The meal I’ll analyse today is my lovely Kate’s favourite meat which is roast lamb.
4 blocks of lamb, or 112g ( that’s the protein) , 3 blocks of potato (150g) and my hope that the odd bit of fat that I rubbed over the meat before roasting was about 4 x 1.5g . The zone diet assumes that all meat has some fat in it.
You’ll notice I’ve slung peas and green beans on my plate, but without really measuring them. I think “pile on the ( non starchy) veg”, but don’t let this take you away from measuring the more carb dense food!
POINTS TO NOTE: when you start to properly manage your weight 1) don’t hunt out weird exotic meals to make. Try and stick with stuff you know and can cook. 2) learn to portion control the important stuff. Dont obsess if you had too much spinach or 3 more fork fulls of cabbage! Learn to recognise the high calorie food. still include it! But manage it.
Todays car park workout was an ‘up down ladder”
Mark out a 10m shuttle run, get a suitably nice, or nasty dumbbell to snatch
On the way up dumbbell snatches 2-20 (2, 4, 6) , on the way down shuttle runs 10-1(10, 9, 8)
Today, it looks like I’m in the gym in the morning, so I’ll probably do a basic deadlift, squat and press strength workout. Kate (my beloved) will either join me or go for a jog. Your choice, go to the gym, or go for a run ( or a mono structural cardio activity like a row, or a bike, or a Cross-trainer). btw, do go to the bottom of this post as there is a free kettlebell guide
The food I want to analyse is this spaghetti bolognese .
As a general point, when you decide to blend protein with other stuff ( be it a sauce or tomatoes or whatever), you’ll need to make judgement as how you divide the end product. So this is 255g of protein to be divided among 3 people( the zone block is 28g of beef , so Im slightly over allocating the required 84g to make 3 blocks). I’ve added a pepper, some garlic, some herbs, an onion, a glass of wine. I threw in a block of kidney beans (sorry, I had them, and I accidentally defrosted them). Ive not really counted in, but it is among 3 people. If I start obsessing about a pepper or onion, I think I’m screwed!
When I came to serve, i just divided it into 3 portions!
Here is the killer. Spaghetti is pure carb. To make 3 blocks I put in 36g of dried spaghetti, that I think gives me three blocks of carb.
Knowing how sparse this would be, Ive added some green beans ( and ignored the minimal carb content)
It was a nice meal, although kate demanded a sprinkle of cheese.
Back to the exercise component
I constantly use kettlebells in my morning workouts. This old guide I wrote years ago may be useful. Have it for free!!
You have to learn to create manage and know your regular meals. Once a week we have this “fry up”
There is a bit of “rough and tumble” in my zone calculations my 2 eggs are 2 blocks, my 3 rashers of bacon is another block ( although Im going to get an exact gram measurement in the future) my fried bread is 2 blocks of carb and I define my 50g of black pudding as a carb block (9g of carb) and I sort of ignore the bit of protein floating about. After the photo, I sneaked a squirt of tomato ketchup and a cup of tea, so I’m probably unbalancing the block system and having a bit too much carb (so a possible insulin stimulating issuer) but its important that I give you an idea of what people do in the real world.
Im assuming the fried bread sucked up the balancing fat of 4 blocks
At the same time, I don’t mind the occasional 9g of carb mistake. Get your diet ok, not perfect.
Perfect is for losers.
WHAT IS YOUR TAKE AWAY?
Most people have regular meals. You’ll have a favourite breakfast, or dinner or snack. You may have it everyday, you may, like my breakfast, have it once a week. Here is your task. Put it into block form or, at the least workout its calorie content and how to control that calories/portion size content next time you make it.
Slowly you can build a library of carefully planned meals you can make without stress. Ideally the ingredients can be stored in your freezer, and you take them out the night before. Make it easy, make it doable! Join the mailing list below for future hints, or drop me a line if you need some one to one help Andrew@andrewstemler.com
with a constantly running clock, 3 rounds of
1 minute squats
1 minute double under
1 minute lunge
1 minute kettlebell swing
1 minute rest
Feel free to only do 30, or 45 seconds out of each work period. Feel free to pick up the kettlebell and use it in the lunges and squats. Enjoy
As I’m 60, it means I was brought up when freezers came in and changed our world.
However, even today, I hear people talk against using frozen vegetables. I use frozen vegetable extensively as they are cost effective, keep well and convenient. I ask my weight management clients to have stock in too!
I recently noticed a comment where someone suggested that the cheapie frozen veg available in the supermarkets that supply common folk like you and me, was inferior and to be avoided.
Just incase you have this doubt, check out “Mineral, fiber, and total phenolic retention in eight fruits and vegetables: a comparison of refrigerated and frozen storage” available here
What the report said was “Minerals, total phenolics, and fiber were analyzed in several fruit and vegetable commodities to evaluate the differences between fresh and frozen produce. Magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, and copper were evaluated in corn, carrots, broccoli, spinach, peas, green beans, strawberries, and blueberries. Each commodity was harvested fresh and split into two batches. Half of each commodity was kept fresh, and the other half was frozen. The nutrient content was analyzed over three storage times per treatment. The retention of nutrients was highly dependent on the commodity, but the majority of the commodities showed no significant difference between fresh and frozen for all analytes (p ≤ 0.05)”
This report does imply that some vegetables are not as good as others as holding onto their frozen nutrients, but, when I get home in a rush, it’s great to reach into the freezer and know you have a portion of veg for the evening meal.
For those who want to dive into the exact difference between fresh food and frozen, I offer you Nutritional comparison of fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables. Part 1. Vitamins C and B and phenolic compounds is an interesting report
To be even handed , if you can go and live in a farm or you have a fantastic garden, it must be great to reach out of the kitchen window and pluck some veg. Thats very rare, and to be honest, I remember my mother “blanching” our garden veg back in the 70’s when that lovely chest freezer arrived.
Outside in the vegetable patch , you can stagger your vegetable crops a bit, but the reality is that you’ll get a glut at sometime. So the freezer is your number one call. As a reflection, we went blackberry picking recently and loved it. We went again, then one more time, and now we cannot face the prospect of another blackberry. We should have frozen those later batches.
On this basic regime, its work for 3 days, rest on the 4th: ( btw DWF means “daily workout and food”)
I set the workouts based on the assumption that you have some dumbbells, a kettlebell and a slipping rope. Ideally you need to add dedicated strength workouts and gymnastics to your regime, but this workout aims to sling together enough elements to do a high intensity session. Often it’s the intensity of the session that will drive fitness results.
To be obvious , this regime doesn’t include pull ups, dips , olympic or power lifts, so it’s not a complete regime, but it gives your lower half, heart and lungs a time.
Each day, I try and give you some eating guidance based on the zone diet. Today, its some general information, a lazy cut and paste, about the zone diet (from the Crossfit Journal, issue 21)
“A block is a unit of measure used to simplify the process of making balanced meals.
7 grams of protein = 1block of protein 9 grams of carbohydrate = 1 block of carbohydrate 1.5 grams of fat = 1 block of fat (There is an assumption that there is about 1.5 grams of fat in each block of protein, so the total amount of fat needed per 1 block meal is 3 grams.)
When a meal is composed of equal blocks of protein, carbohydrate, and fat, it is 40 % carbohydrate, 30 % protein and 30% fat.
lists common foods, their macronutrient category (protein, carbohydrate or fat), along with a conversion of measurements to blocks.
This “block chart” is a convenient tool for making balanced meals. Simply choose 1 item from the protein list, 1 item from the carbohydrate list, and 1 item from the fat list to compose a 1 block meal. Or choose 2 items from each column to compose a 2 block meal, etc.
Here is a sample 4 block meal:
4 oz. chicken breast 1 artichoke 1 cup of steamed vegetables w/ 24 crushed peanuts 1 sliced apple
This meals contains 28 grams of protein, 36 grams of carbohydrate, and 12 grams of fat. It is simpler, though, to think of it as 4 blocks of protein, 4 blocks of carbohydrate, and 4 blocks of fat.“
Even if you are going to slop on the couch, see if you can sneak in a bit of better movement.
Here are some action picks from todays curry task. Everything you need to make a 4 block curry meal, with a bottle of beer.
Using yesterdays pulled chicken and some stock made from the bones, it was chicken curry time. 93g of rice (3 blocks) 120 g of chicken (4 blocks) buried in a sauce of stock and tomatoes, plus tomato puree with onions, ginger, toasted and crushed cloves, coriander, garlic, curry powder and a bit of coconut milk powder.
This sort of meant there was room for an extra 9g carb block (1 block). I sneaked in a beer at 12g of carb, so 3 g over But I knew I was going to do this so I slightly cut back a previous meal.
Nice, but I should have put a bit of chilli in. For me the ginger and clove is enough of a bit, but today it would have been better with a bit of chilli.
An escalating ladder of 1 D/B snatch L&R, 1 push up, 5/10 V sit ups. Then 2 D/B snatch left/right, 2 push ups, 5/10 V sit ups ( 5 for kate, 10 for me.) The V sit up work stays the same each round) ( next round is 3 D/B 3 push ups)
As high up the ladder as you can as you can get in 13 minutes. Depending on the stimulus, you may want a light, medium or heavy dumbbell.
Here we have 112g of roast chicken, (4 blocks) 150g of boiled potato (3 blocks) . I rubbed 2 blocks of butter onto the chicken ( kate loves her crispy skin) and put about 2 blocks of butter onto the vegetables. I boiled up a “mess” of courgettes, broccoli and cabbage, served with an ” as much as you can eat” mentality. Any diet that restricts non starchy carb should be avoided. As many veggies as you can get down I say!!
Use the veggie stock to make gravy (with the juice from the chicken)
The sneaky “bad” things I did were: 1) slung a glass of wine into the baking pan, to support the juice from the chicken and the trivet ( thats the bed of onion, celery and carrot) hoping that most of the alcohol had boiled away ( check if I”m delusional, by following this thread) and 2) stirred in 2 tea spoons of gravy powder which had a bit of carb in. I’ve ignored that as it minor and life is too short.
Delicious and filling!
Straight after diner, when the chicken is cold, rip it off the bone, with your hands. Put the trivet and the bones and any remainder gravy/juice into a pot to make a stock ( you’ll need this for tomorrows curry)
Today, kate and I are off to the gym ( at the amazing Crossfit London) to do a strength workout 3 sets of 5’s of deadlift, squat and press.
If you are stuck at home can I suggest 3 sets of 10 kettlebell deadlift (holding whatever weight kettlebell you have), 3 sets of 10 goblet squats, ( with a weight you can cope with) and 3 sets of 10 dumbbell press. Do these with rest periods as a strength session, not a mad workout!
Not every workout should be a near death intense workout, you need to sprinkle in strength ( and you’ll see the odd run now and then)
If you want more hints and tips do join the mailing list. Ill be launching a free Zone course and I’ll email when it’s ready.
To see if I have time to help you personally in an around the city and the East End of london, do drop me an email Andrew@andrewstemler.com
Most days I’ll post a workout you can do with minimal equipment and no gym access. It be will be on a 3 day on, 1 days off rota
The “gym-less” workouts only assume you has access to 1) some dumbbells 2) a kettlebell 3) a skipping rope 4) a car park and some benches.
Obviously a full Crossfit or exercise regime requires more stuff and more variation, and ill encourage you to practice and train in weightlifting and gymnastics and other forms of cardio, but doing these workouts as bits of intensity (hard and fast) should help most people
So todays workout is
With a running clock set for 15 minutes as many rounds as possible of
20 lunges, 20 double under’s, 100m run.
Feel free to tweak everything: 10 lunges, 10 single skips, walk 50m for 7 minutes 10, or 12 minutes. If there is an exercise you cannot do or tweak, feel free to switch it with one you can do, or just leave it out and practice it later if you can.
If you are in chronic pain take it easy, feel free to limit the range of motion, feel free to rest if you must, but it’s simply about pushing you on a bit or a lot, depending on where you are
For food, ill be recommending the Zone diet . For now this is a TWO BLOCK snack, or “brunch” if you prefer.
This snack had 2 blocks of carb in the form of a slice of bread, 2 blocks of avocado (In the form of 2 (overly generous) teaspoons ) 42g of ham (as one block of protein) and 28g of cheese (as another block of protein).
I sneaked in a tea spoonful of chia seeds for extra fibre and a mini scrap of butter as an old habit
and ended up on toast like this
I’ll be explaining in great details how the zone block system works, but its intention is to ensure that each meal or snack has a balance of the main 3 macro nutrients: carbs protein and fat.
Ill be a launching a free ” how to zone course” some time in the next few months so do join my mailing list and ill tell you when you can get it
“10000 steps a day. Yep, that’s 10 thousand steps every day . Go and buy a cheap pedometer or look up if its already on your phone,, and record how many steps you take each day. This is your baseline of daily activity. Any gym work or running around is training and is extra . This is the minimum amount of movement you do to keep ticking over.
Frequently I see people work quite hard in the gym for an hour, but are totally sedentary for the rest of the time. The gym session barely compensates for their lack of day today movement.
I also see many sports people, who apart from the weekly football match, are to all intents and purposes, sedentary. So, put that pedometer on, check your phone and review your daily count.
5000 – 7500
7500 – 10,000
But don’t worry! slowly build up your activity level if you find yourself in the sedentary box! Get active at work
for some science, look at
“Effects of a 10,000 steps per day goal in overweight adults” by Schneider et al (Am J Health Promot.2006 Nov-Dec;21(2):85-9.)“
Some points need to be made
1) the 10,000 steps is a fantastic way to assess basic activity. Ive helped people who could only manage 3000 steps in a day and the effect was remarkable.
2) 10,000 steps a day is the very least you should be doing.
However, if you present 10,000 step Versus almost anything else, anything else is probably better: Brisk walking is better, a fast 400m run or a Crossfit Workout is better, indeed a life and death brawl at your local pub really gets the blood pumping. The issue is this: you have to really be sedentary to do less than 10,000 steps a day, so its a great baseline and target and you should always do more.