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April 26, 2016
by ASP Admin

The rate at which we improve is dependent on the rate at which we force adaptation. Simply put, in order for us to improve we need to force our body under loads that we are not used to. We must aim for better results than our last workout otherwise we are simply not improving.

Aim to improve in 1 of 3 areas of a workout

Increase the weight
Increase the reps
Increase the training volume
These are 3 simple variables you can change in a workout in order to force adaptation.

Please take note that the best way of measuring this is by following a set tempo, for a number of reps, for a number of sets.

Tempo may be 5010, 4010 or 3010 but you have to remain consistent week by week

A simply way of doing this is through the following

Increase the Weight

Week 1: 4 sets X 10 reps @ 60kgs

Week 2: 4 sets X 10 reps @ 62.5kgs

Week 3: 4 sets X 10 reps @ 65kgs

By adding a small amount of weight week by week shows you that you have forced an increase in adaptation, a small jump of 0.5 – 2.5kgs added is the difference between 1st and 2nd place in the world of lifting

Increase the Reps

Week 1: 4 sets X 8 reps @ 60kgs

Week 2: 4 sets X 10 reps @ 60kgs

Week 3: 4 sets X 12 reps @ 60kgs

There is no increase in weight but an increase in reps, your goal is to force out an extra 2 reps per set on a weekly basis

Increasing the Training Volume

Week 1: 2 sets X 10 reps @ 60kgs

Week 2: 3 sets X 10 reps @ 60kgs

Week 3: 4 sets X 10 reps @ 60kgs

Your goal here is to maintain the same amount of reps but increase the amount of sets (Volume) performed weekly

Small gains are better than no gains, don’t get caught in being comfortable where you are. Always look to improve.

Let’s get stronger together, Article by ASP Coach George


March 29, 2016
by ASP Admin

If you are looking for a new recipe to help with your sweet cravings, make sure to try this one out! These quick and easy bars are the perfect guilt-free treat for yourself or your kids at home. Special credits to the amazing Tetyana Siong for her superbly nutritious and inventive recipe.


2 tsp flax meal
1 1/2 tsp vanilla protein powder
200g cashes (soaked in water for 2hrs)
1 tbs water
1 soft Medjool dates, pitted


2 1/2 tsp peanut butter
1 tsp caramel protein powder
3 soft Medjool dates, pitted
1 tsp maca powder
4-5 tbs water
1/4 cup chopped peanuts, or other nuts/seeds of choice. Mix nuts with coconut oil and Himalayan salt


1. Mix the nougat ingredients in high speed blender. Press it into a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and use your hands to create a uniform rectangle shape that is about 1/2-inch thick. Place in the freezer to set.
2. While the nougat layer is setting in the freezer, prepare the caramel filling. Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender, and blend until completely smooth and creamy. You may need to stop and scrape down the blender a couple of times to make sure the caramel is blended uniformly. Adjust the flavor or texture to your liking and add more water if the texture is too thick.
3. Remove the nougat layer from the freezer and spread the caramel filling evenly over the top.
Sprinkle the nuts of choice, over the top of the caramel layer, and use your hands to gently press the chopped nuts into the caramel filling. Place in the freezer to set for at least 30 minutes. When set, cut into small pieces and coat in melted dark chocolate (feel free to add in coconut oil if you a softer texture)


March 9, 2016
by ASP Admin

The rate at which we improve is dependent on the rate at which we force adaptation. Simply put, in order for us to improve we need to force our body under loads that we are not used to. We must aim for better results than our last workout otherwise we are simply not improving.

Aim to improve in 1 of 3 areas of a workout

Increase the weight
Increase the reps
Increase the training volume
These are 3 simple variables you can change in a workout in order to force adaptation.

Please take note that the best way of measuring this is by following a set tempo, for a number of reps, for a number of sets.

Tempo may be 5010, 4010 or 3010 but you have to remain consistent week by week

A simply way of doing this is through the following

Increase the Weight

Week 1: 4 sets X 10 reps @ 60kgs

Week 2: 4 sets X 10 reps @ 62.5kgs

Week 3: 4 sets X 10 reps @ 65kgs

By adding a small amount of weight week by week shows you that you have forced an increase in adaptation, a small jump of 0.5 – 2.5kgs added is the difference between 1st and 2nd place in the world of lifting

Increase the Reps

Week 1: 4 sets X 8 reps @ 60kgs

Week 2: 4 sets X 10 reps @ 60kgs

Week 3: 4 sets X 12 reps @ 60kgs

There is no increase in weight but an increase in reps, your goal is to force out an extra 2 reps per set on a weekly basis

Increasing the Training Volume

Week 1: 2 sets X 10 reps @ 60kgs

Week 2: 3 sets X 10 reps @ 60kgs

Week 3: 4 sets X 10 reps @ 60kgs

Your goal here is to maintain the same amount of reps but increase the amount of sets (Volume) performed weekly

Small gains are better than no gains, don’t get caught in being comfortable where you are. Always look to improve.

Let’s get stronger together, Article by ASP Coach George


Feb 17, 2016
by ASP Admin



Get a routine and most importantly, STICK TO IT. One of the keys to success in any field is to develop consistency. One of the most important lessons I learned this year is that we need to have consistency in both thoughts and actions. Try to apply the principle of consistency to your goals and you will find it has the power to take you to the next level of success. Start doing something EVERY day to work towards your goals and eventually you will find this helps to create a habit and really helps to build momentum.


It is very important to understand what foods work and don’t work for you. People often look for a one-size-fits-all nutrition plan, or a “magical” diet that celebrities use. What many fail to realise is that nutrition needs to be specifically tailored to the individual; what may work for one person may make another person put on fat. If a magazine, celebrity or friend swears by the nutrition plan they are on, just keep in mind that it may not be right for you.


Tracking progress needs to be objective. Subjective measurements such as how you look in the mirror or how you feel can very be easily swayed by your self perception at the time. If you feel like you’re having a “fat day” then that is most likely what you’ll see in the mirror, when in reality you could be making very good progress. Photos are more objective way of tracking results. It’s often a good idea to take progress photos once a week or every two weeks. The best method is to take it at the same time each day (preferably first thing in the morning), and in the same, or similar outfit. If you want to be even more precise in tracking your progress you may even consider tracking body fat percentage changes.

Remember, how you see yourself and how you look are sometimes completely different! Be objective.


Glute-ham raise. The hamstrings are an often-neglected body part, and finding different ways to train the muscle is always a good idea. Because of the different strength curve used, you engage the hamstring in a different movement pattern compared to lying hamstring curl.


Educating clients is a big part of who we are and I love that aspect. The more the client understands the exercise or process of what training they are doing, the more they enjoy the learning experience. Each client also teaches you something different and to me, that is an additional bonus to being an ASP coach.


Rugby. Growing up in New Zealand, rugby is a way of life. I enjoy playing it as to has been a great way to meet people especially when travelling overseas, you immediately have a group of people who became family. As a team, you have each others backs on and off the field and with that you have a sense of comradery. Thats probably the best feeling and why I enjoy it so much.


Jan 13, 2016
by ASP Admin


• Mindset. This, to me, is the most important part of achieving optimal body composition, or the body of your dreams. Every physical action, whether it’s reaching for a donut or going for a workout even though you’ve had the worst day begins with some sort of thought process or intention in the mind. Whatever goes on in your mind determines your motivation, dedication, will, focus, drive, and eventually, how close you get to your goal.

The power of having the right mindset and being able to manage your thoughts is, unfortunately, one of the most undervalued and ignored aspects personal development and growth. Having the right mindset doesn’t just help at the gym, but in all aspects of life, including your career, relationships, happiness, community, health and more.


Mindset by Carol S. Dweck
Perhaps one of my favourites and a great book to get started with on the mindset journey.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
This book focuses more on success in business and life, but delves heavily into mindset.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
If you’re more into novels then this is a great read that follows the journey of a boy’s single-minded focus and dedication to fulfil his dream.

• Nutrition. Without proper nutrition it will be near impossible to achieve the body you want… unless you are blessed with spectacular genes, in which case you are the exception, not the rule. Unfortunately, for most, the subject of nutrition is more complicated than rocket surgery, which is arguably more complicated than rocket science. It’s no surprise that this is the case given the fact that there’s a new fad diet each week.

If you want to achieve optimal body composition it’s important to find what works best for you on a long term basis. Understanding that fact that people are different and have different dietary needs will go a long way in achieving your goals.

• Weight training. When it comes to shaping the body you want, of course you’ll need to hit the gym. It doesn’t matter if you’re a male wanting to pack on muscle or a female who’s after that toned look, lifting weights is part of the process. In fact, lifting weights will achieve the look you’re after much faster and more effectively than hopping on a treadmill and going for a mindless run for an hour.


Squats. Squats are one of the best and biggest bang-for-buck exercises you can do at the gym. Not only do they give you great legs and butt, but they also recruit a large number of muscles, which is great for burning fat. From a physiological perspective squats are also a great exercise for elevating human growth hormone and testosterone levels, again promoting a leaner physique.


As someone who has struggled in the past with how my body looked I understand what it can be like to be frustrated with my body, especially after many attempts of going to the gym and changing my nutrition. This frustration is very common in many people and being able to turn this frustration around is one of the most satisfying parts of my role. When clients see results you can often see their mood, happiness and sense of self-image shift towards a more positive place; this, for me, is extremely rewarding.


One of my favourite quotes is a mindset quote:

“Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.” – Charles Swindoll

To me this is a great reminder that everything that happens in our physical reality is a matter of perception, and how you choose to perceive that reality and react to that reality is a matter of choice. To any situation, you can either choose to react negatively and unproductively (which only makes the situation worse), or positively and productively (to help find a more positive outcome).


January 4, 2016
by ASP Admin

2016 is here, a time at which we tend to step into the New Year with new hopes and dreams! We hope to look better, get stronger or even intend to step into the gym more often. Whilst most people plan to use this special time of the year to list down all their new goals, whether it is FATLOSS, to get healthier, to train for a bodybuilding competition or an athletic event, the problem with these goals is that sometimes they can be difficult to achieve or even unattainable. Why? Because many people expect instant results set unrealistic expectations or make changes to their lifestyle or eating habits that are not sustainable. As some goals are more difficult than others and require patience to be achieved, people tend to get lazy and demotivated. Here are some tips to help you reach your goals for 2016!


The best lesson I learnt in 2015 is that intention DOES NOT equal action. It is great to have a plan but a plan remains just that until something is done about it. Irrespective of what the plan entails, even if it is not fully thought out, one should always strive to push ahead and work towards it fruition. 


If you have tried everything under the sun towards your goals in previous years without success, perhaps it is time to consider getting some professional help! People often overlook the value in seeking professional help. Sure you can save more money by doing it on your own but what if you could achieve better and faster results? Many of us are guilty of procrastinating, or as its also known, the chief thief of time. Break this cycle and start looking at experts in the field that could be to your benefit. 


Trust me, it makes a huge difference! Keeping track or even a record of your progress is one of the best ways to hold yourself accountable towards your goal while also keeping your resolutions on the top of your mind. By consistently keeping a record of your progress, you are by default consistently working on your goal and can see how far you’ve come which can be a huge motivator when you see results! It also gives you the opportunity to reassess your goals and make adjustments for unforeseen circumstances that you may have come across after first setting your resolution.


This is perhaps the hardest thing to do especially if you have a hectic work schedule ahead. Learn to prioritise, plan ahead and be proactive. Even a simple list of pre-planned groceries or of healthy neighboring restaurants around your workplace can minimise the possibility of you having to impulse shop or order fast food. Remember, you are only given one body so start taking care of it before its too late!

In conclusion, try not to have too much on your plate at one time. Take things one day at a time and don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up every now and then. Don’t be afraid to start again and most importantly don’t ever give up! Learn to be proud of yourself for reaching every milestone, no matter how small, and treat yourself for reaching each and every goal. 

Good luck with your resolutions and have a Happy New Year!


December 7, 2015
by ASP Admin

Together with food, water, oxygen and protection from the elements sleep is one of the basic needs necessary for our survival. It’s a wonder then why something so fundamental has become one of the most under-prioritised aspects of our lives. We sacrifice sleep for our work, TV, phones, social media, computer games and much more, all without realising that getting adequate sleep each night is one of the keys to optimal body composition and having a leaner physique. It is a common-known fact that sleep is necessary for recovery, but “recovery” involves so much more than just recharging your batteries for the next day. Recovery also involves the regulation of specific hormones that promote improved body fat levels, reduction in stress levels, improvements in muscle mass and overall physical and psychogenic repair. Without adequate sleep people will tend to store more fat and find it harder to put on muscle.



Growth hormone (GH) is one of the most significant hormones in regulating anabolism in the body; it contributes to cell repair, cell reproduction and overall growth. Growth hormone is also a precursor to the production of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in the liver which promotes muscle growth and cognitive function. From a fat loss perspective optimising GH production has been found lower body fat.

The significance of sleep in relation to GH is that the majority of GH is released by the pituitary as you sleep. Without adequate sleep GH production is supressed which, in turn, results in supressed production of IGF-1. Studies have found that individuals who consistently suppress GH production by not prioritising sleep generally have much lower muscle mass and higher body fat. Supressing GH production also translates to wasted efforts at the gym. Strenuous physical activity at the gym results in micro damage to muscles which must be repair adequately to prevent continual breakdown.


Cortisol is the primary stress hormone which, in excess amounts can have drastic negative effects on body composition. Individuals who place their bodies under chronic stress (whether it’s physical stress or emotional stress) will tend to store more fat, especially around the front of the tummy. This is an especially big problem in the corporate world where the stress of deadlines and productivity take over health and well-being.

One way to elevate cortisol levels (something you don’t want) is to sleep less. Studies have found that individuals who have sleep problems or average 5 hours or less of sleep store more body fat and also find it harder to lose body fat.

From the perspective of inflammation poor sleep increases inflammation in the body which not only increases physical stress—thus ramping up cortisol even more and increasing fat storage—but is also a major contributor to many diseases and overall poor health. In addition to this inflammation supresses recovery from training which can lead to decreased strength, poor muscle repair and impeded fat loss efforts.


Increased cortisol from a poor night’s sleep can have an effect on food consumption the day after. The reason for this is because when cortisol increases another hormone, insulin, tends to make its way in the picture. Insulin is responsible for storing nutrients, but is also commonly called “the fat storing hormone” since constantly elevated insulin levels contribute to fat storage. Cortisol and insulin are antagonistic hormones; when one goes up, the other goes down.

In times of stress (or elevated cortisol levels) one way to lower cortisol is to increase insulin, and one simple way of doing this is to eat refined carbs. This is one major reason why people tend to choose refined carbs or lollies when they stress eat. It’s never a celery stick with some nut butter.

If you want to be able to make better food choices throughout the day and prevent unwanted carb cravings then managing stress levels by improving sleep is a great way to do so.

All-in-all, sleep is an incredibly crucial factor in getting the physique you’re after. Keep in mind that the points above are only a few of the benefits of sleep in relation to fat loss and hypertrophy. The negative effects of under-prioritising sleep extend beyond the above points. Under-sleeping can lead to lowered testosterone levels, overall increased appetite, poor cardiovascular health, poor cognitive function, insulin resistance and much more.

It’s important to note that getting enough sleep means getting enough sleep each night. Most people are in the habit of neglecting sleep during the week and then “catching up” over the weekend. This up and down in sleep patterns is enough to disrupt circadian rhythms which results in diminished benefits of sleep, and can even increase physical stress. If possible it is ideal to maintain a similar sleeping pattern even on the weekends.

Stay tuned for Part 2 for tips on how to get a better night’s sleep! In the meantime, sleep tight!


December 7, 2015
by ASP Admin

We are proud of our coaches here at ASPC and it is our pleasure to introduce weightlifting certified ASP Strength Coach George Menelaou.

Coach George has an amazing ongoing personal journey that has already seen more than 50kgs drop off his bodyweight and he has developed a dedicated passion for coaching in power and Olympic lifting. Here are some of George’s best tips and insights on improving strength, his views on being an ASP Coach, and his favourite quotes.


-Building a solid foundation of conditioning and muscle prior to being involved in strength

-Learn how to move small weights effectively before learning how to move big weights

-A staple in my program for my strength athletes are the big three: squat, bench and deadlift. However, I would never neglect pull ups/chin ups or overhead presses. They are a must in programs in order to get stronger.


It would have to be the clean and jerk; it is an Olympic weightlifting exercise and one of the most complex and explosive movements you would ever try and put together. I feel like my years of training has been in order to strengthen my body in order to complete this one movement, it simply puts everything together. It really is satisfying to move a heavy weight from its lowest position (the floor) to its highest position (overhead)


As an ASP coach I love to see incredible changes in not just my clients but any client training at Australian Strength Performance. From a client dropping large amounts of bodyfat and gaining muscle at the same time to a client gaining 10-30kgs in a deadlift in a short period of time. The aspect of a clients transformation in their physique and strength is truly amazing and fulfilling as a coach.


My favorite quote of the day would be:

“What if I told you in 10 years from now your life would be exactly the same, I doubt you would behappy. So why are you afraid to change?”

My favorite quote of the week would be:

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”


November 11, 2015
by ASP Admin

Olympic weightlifting is both a dynamic and explosive sport. Many athletes perform Olympic weightlifting movements to become better in their respective profession. One of the limiting factors in completing one of the two lifts comprising of the snatch and the clean and jerk is upper body strength. If the bar is dropping behind you or you fail to lock out your arms working on your overhead presses would benefit you greatly and remove any faults in your technique. Here are 4 lifts to improve your shoulders, triceps, and stabilising muscles such as the rotator cuff, traps and the lats in order to lock out these enormous weights day in and day out.



This is a basic exercise and a must for programming when getting started in Olympic weightlifting.Stand with the barbell in your front squat position or jerk position (usually outside shoulder width). Press the bar straight up using only your arms, once it passes your head lock your arms out and reach full extension to resemble the end of the jerk position before lowering the bar for the next rep. Note that your head should push back at the start of the lift and then push forward at the end of the lift in order to press the bar in a straight line.

Perform this exercise using a 4-0-1-0 tempo and focus on your lockout, increasing strength and control of this exercise will yield greater lockout strength when trying to complete the Jerk. This exercise can also be done behind the neck, ensure you have mobility in the shoulder before perform the exercise this way.


This is a basic exercise for strengthening your overhead position in the snatch.Stand with the barbell behind your neck as it would be in a back squat, holding it with a snatch-width grip, the same position you would hold the bar in a snatch deadlift position. Press the bar straight up into the proper snatch overhead position, locking your arms out tightly before lowering the bar for the next rep.

Perform this exercise using a 4-0-1-0 tempo. This exercise works effectively on stabilising the shoulders, traps, lats and rotator cuff muscles. This exercise will help reduce the rate at which your arm bends when catching the weight in the squat snatch position. It is also a fantastic rear delt builder.


The push press is an effective Olympic weightlifting movement used to overload the triceps during lockout. It is also a great way to effectively overload the eccentric part of the overhead press.

Stand with the barbell in your front squat position or jerk position (this movement can also be performed in a snatch grip position). Using some help from the legs by performing a bend in the knees then launch the bar upwards with speed and press the bar up at the same time. Ensure you have locked your arms out and then control the weight back to your starting position in order to begin the next rep.

This exercise is performed in a much more explosive manner so use a 4-0-X-0 tempo. X meaning fast drive from the legs and a quick press overhead. After creating a base of strength with Overhead presses and Snatch Presses add this to your programming in order to overload your Jerk or Snatch lockout.


Normally performed in an overhead snatch squat position however it can be done in an overhead squat position provided you have good mobility in the shoulders and squat. I would give a beginner a snatch grip overhead squat to determine how much mobility work is required in order to get them started in performing squat snatches.

A strict press or push press movement is performed to gain an overhead snatch position. As the arms are pressed out a partial range or full range squat is performed with the bar remaining locked out in the overhead position. You then rise with the weight remaining overhead in order to begin the next rep.

Perform this exercise with a 4-0-1-0 tempo in order to become more comfortable in a squat snatch position. This is a squat with an Isometric hold so maintain tightness in the arms and the trunk. If you cannot perform a full squat then work on your overhead, shoulder mobility and perform power snatches before getting into full snatches.


September 15, 2015
by ASP Admin

Winter is finally over and the prospect of beautiful, sunny days is finally in sight! For many of us, however, the cold winter months have not been kind, and with declining motivation to eat well and hit the gym the winter weight has added a few unwanted kilos. After losing the motivation to train over winter it’s sometimes hard to get back into the routine of regular training. So what are some of the things that you can do to get back into the right mindset for hitting the gym? Below are a few pointers to get your mind back on track.


This is one of the most important points to follow if you want to succeed in attaining your gym goals. More often than not people go to the gym without specific goals. They might have a vague idea such as ‘I want to lose some fat’, or ‘I want to put on more muscle’, but this is typically coupled with an ‘I will train and see what happens’ approach and no timeframe in sight. The problem with vague goals and ‘seeing what happens’ is that typically not much happens at all. Vague goals leave far too much room for deviation and don’t hold the individual accountable; it’s much easier to justify eating junk food if you don’t really know what you’re striving for and if there’s no deadline to meet the goal.

If you want faster results at the gym it helps to aim for something more concrete. Many people apply the commonly-used S.M.A.R.T. acronym when setting their goals. If, for example, your goal is ‘I will get from 24% body fat to less than 15% in eight weeks’, this is how to apply the S.M.A.R.T. acronym:

(S)pecific: Is the goal specific in nature? In this case, yes, since you have given yourself specific figures to reach, together with a timeframe.

(M)easurable: Are you able to measure your progress? Yes, you can measure body fat percentage.

(A)chievable: Is the goal attainable? If you are committed to the appropriate lifestyle changes, then yes.

(R)ealistic: Is the goal realistic? Provided no major unexpected events occur, then yes.

(T)imely: Does the goal have a deadline? In this case, eight weeks.

Sometimes a goal may seem overwhelming or difficult to reach. In such cases it may be necessary to set up smaller goals in between that finally reach your end goal.

When you’ve reached your goal then create a new one, even if the goal is to maintain what you’ve achieved.

As a final point it’s also a good idea to write down your goal and stick it on your bathroom mirror!


This next point is a great tool to help you stay on track and motivated. It really involves looking at your goal (and your life) from different angles and identifying how your goal can be a positive influence if you reach it, as well as the consequences if you continue on your current path. This may lead to some very hard realisations, but also identifies some very positive outcomes.

Here’s how it works. In relation to your goal ask yourself the following questions and list your responses:

  1. What would happen if I reached my goal?
  2. What wouldn’t happen if I reached my goal?
  3. What would happen if I didn’t reach my goal?
  4. What wouldn’t happen if I didn’t reach my goal?

The key is to respond to these questions whilst considering all aspects of your life, from your health, work, relationships, mental state, physical state, financial state, etc. Whilst this exercise may take a little bit more time and thinking you’ll likely find that it’s a great way to get you motivated again. If it helps you could even pin your responses in a place you regularly look at to serve as a reminder.


A motivational board is another way to stay motivated and is one strategy that many in the health and fitness industry use. This is the place where you can write down your goals, put up inspirational quotes, pin up pictures of the physique you wish to have, or anything that represents what you want out of life.


If training on your own is what’s stopping you from staying motivated then train with a friend, join a group class, or better yet, train with an experienced coach. Training with a good coach will give you the appropriate guidance you need in terms of training with correct form, program design and pushing yourself appropriately to get the most out of your workout. A good coach will also make sure you stay accountable by frequently checking up on your training, nutrition and other lifestyle habits.

These are just a few ways to help you get back into the training mindset once again. Keep in mind that there are dozens of motivational techniques to choose from, and this is by no means an exhaustive list. Many people use visualisation and do this every night before sleep. Others watch motivational workout videos on YouTube, and others enjoy following fitness role models. It may be hard to kick-start yourself back into a regular training, but with the right motivation the habit will set in again and you’ll be on your way to getting ready for summer!


July 19, 2015
by ASP Admin

With the onset of colder winter days and rainy weather, what better way to warm yourself than by coming home to a bowl of hot creamy soup. Here’s one of our favourite recipes for a nutritious, high in protein soup, guaranteed to titillate your tastebuds and satisfy your winter carb cravings.


  • 1 table spoon olive oil
  • 1 large brown onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 500g cauliflower cut into florets
  • 500g broccoli cut into florets
  • 120g baby spinach
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock
  • Yoghurt
  • Salmon


  1. Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat
  2. Add onion and garlic and stir for 3 minutes until onion has softened
  3. Add the broccoli and cauliflower, cook, stirring for 5 minutes
  4. Add the stock
  5. Season with some pepper and salt
  6. Reduce heat to medium low
  7. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the cauliflower and broccoli is tender.
  8. Add the spinach in the last 2 minutes of cooking
  9. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly
  10. Blend until a smooth creamy consistency
  11. Grill some salmon fillets seasoned with Himalayan sea salt
  12. To serve, add yoghurt and salmon chunk

Winter Carb Cravings – What You Need To Know

July 12, 2015
by ASP Admin

For many of us in the fitness game, winter is that time of year that seems to sabotage our fitness goals. The cold, dreary days make us stay indoors more than we’d like, and the layers of clothes means that many of us think it’s “okay” to let ourselves go. On top of that many of us seem to have a curiously increased hankering for all the foods we know we shouldn’t be having: chocolate, lollies, cake, pastry, pasta, chips, etc. If you’re someone who has increased winter carb cravings, don’t fret, you’re not alone. Many of our clients come to us during the winter period with complaints of irresistible carb cravings, resulting in growing waistlines. So what is it that drives us to crave carb-laden meals and sugary snacks during the winter period?

The Winter Blues

Well-documented research has shown that the winter months can bring about a type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or more colloquially known as the winter blues. One of the reasons affecting SAD is the lack of vitamin D3 in our bodies due to reduced sun exposure. Optimal Vitamin D3 levels is crucial in regulating mood, with low levels of vitamin D having been shown in studies to be correlated with poor mood and even depressive symptoms.

In order to feel better, many people rely on high carb, sugary junk foods to elevate their mood. This is because the carbohydrates in these foods promote the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which enhances mood. In addition to this, the stress from being in a low state further depletes our body’s serotonin levels resulting in physical cravings for carbs in order to replenish the low serotonin levels, and the cycle continues.

So what can be done to keep vitamin D3 levels up during the cold winter months? Aside from going out and trying to get some sunshine in the grey weather, a simple solution is to take a good vitamin D3 supplement. Keep in mind, however, that because vitamin D3 is a fat-soluble vitamin, the absorption of this supplement will be far more effective when taken with sources of good, healthy saturated fats.

Increased Energy Needs for Homeostasis

Another reason for increased food consumption over winter may come down to homeostasis, the body’s process of maintaining a stable internal environment (e.g. stable body temperature). During the cold winter months, our bodies tend to burn more calories in order to stay warm. One method of doing this is by generating heat through brown adipose tissue, otherwise known as brown fat. Interestingly, brown fat utilises a substantial amount of blood glucose when active, bringing blood sugar levels down and potentially eliciting carbohydrate cravings. In addition to this, thermogenesis (the creation of heat) from brown fat can be induced by eating food, which may mean that our bodies are naturally stimulating our appetites in order to bring about diet-induced thermogenesis.

One common mistake that many people make when they experience elevated hunger is to try and “manage” their hunger by ignoring it or taking the route of calorie restriction, which has been proven to be ineffective for long term fat loss. Others may choose to have “light snacks” that often include chocolate, biscuits or a sugar-loaded granola bar rather than real, wholesome food.

Hunger is often your body’s way of signalling that it needs more food, or simply more of particular vitamins and nutrients. Ignoring these signals or going down the path of calorie restriction often results in binge eat, over-snacking (often on junk food) and poor food choices in general. The research on calorie restrictive diets have time and time again shown that those who practice this will tend to put on more body fat in the long term than when they started.

If you find yourself hungrier over the winter period, aim to increase your consumption of protein from healthy, clean sources and as always, eat plenty of vegetables with your meals. If you’re eating carbs then opt for unprocessed carbs such as brown rice, sweet potato, yam, quinoa or pumpkin. As a final note on this point remember to stay well hydrated during winter. Hunger can often be mistaken for thirst and winter is one of those periods where people don’t drink enough water.

Evolutionary Adaptation

One possible explanation why some people experience winter carb cravings may be due to an evolutionary adaptation based on lifestyle practice. Studies on earlier nomadic and farming groups show that populations experiencing cold winters relied significantly on grains and tubers harvested during the warmer months as well as on a small proportion of cured meats. This is because many of the fresh fruit and vegetable food sources would not have survived the cold, and hunting animals became significantly more difficult.

As such, the increased cravings for carbs during the winter months could have resulted from an innate evolutionary reliance on carb sources over winter.

Of course, this adaptation may have aided our survival up until 100 to 200 years ago, but the world we live in now is vastly different and we no longer have the winter famines that our ancestors had. Vegetables, meat or other protein-dense foods are readily available. If you find yourself with carb cravings then increasing protein consumption from healthy sources can help decrease these cravings by keeping you satiated. Don’t worry if you find yourself eating more food during your meals provided that what you’re eating is the right kind of food. If you keep yourself satisfied with the right kinds of food then you’ll be less likely to eat the foods that add to your waistline.

The reasons why people experience winter carb cravings can differ from individual to individual ranging from low vitamin D levels, to increased energy needs and potentially even evolutionary adaptations. At the end of the day, however, whatever the causes are for your carb cravings it doesn’t mean you need to make poor food choices. Being smart about what you eat by consuming nutritious, unprocessed food with plenty of meat and veg can greatly curb carb cravings. If you find yourself indoors and lacking sunlight then it may be worth trying a good quality vitamin D supplement to boost depleted levels which may assist in improving your mood and curbing your cravings.
Written by

Patrick Hammes
ASP Coach

Healthy Kids Eating In Style

October 16, 2014
by ASP Admin

To follow on from ASP Coach Priscilla‘s popular post on ‘The Business of Fish’ last month, we have her back to discuss fun and tasty ways to get your kids eating healthy! 

I was asked by a client for suggestions for her kids’ meals as she was embarking on her new nutritional plan. As she found the change in food had made such a difference for her and the way she felt, she thought why not have the kids to the same thing?

Instead of pulling the box of cocoa pops from the cupboard she wanted to introduce the kids to the idea of having protein as the first meal of the day. Kids lead a very active life and what better way to support their activity and growth than by providing the right nutritional support?

So here are some ways of creating fun in the kitchen while providing healthy meals for your kids.

  • Scrambled Eggs: A fun way to serve kids eggs is to put cookie cutter shapes in a pan well oiled, then arrange cutters in a close circle and pour egg mix into cutters. You can add salmon, vegetables etc. at this stage. Cover cutters with some non stick baking paper. Cook for 3-5mins or until desired texture. Use a fish slice to remove cutters.
  • Grating vegetables is a good way to disguise them when adding them to mince meat.
  • When making spaghetti and mince balls, make the spaghetti out of zucchini as a variation.
  • Paleo style crepes are great in the morning and you can also add them as a lunch box filler. Spread with a nut butter (if the school allows nuts) or simply squeeze lemon juice and roll into cigar shape and wrap. You may also use the crepes as bread alternatives. Add your savoury fillings and roll into shape.



  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla


  1. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients.
  2. Heat a 9″ frying pan over medium heat and melt a small amount of coconut oil in the pan.
  3. Using 2-3 tablespoons of batter per crepe, swirl in the pan until the batter is thin.
  4. Cook for 1-2 minutes; until the edges are browned and curling upwards slightly. In a swift motion, scoop the crepe onto a spatula and flip quickly.
  5. Cook for 1 minute on the other side.
  6. Roll the crepes with your favourite fillings. If you choose to make these ahead of time, you can freeze them with a couple sheets of parchment paper between each crepe.


When I was younger my mum would make a soup or broth in the cooler months and send it with us to school in a thermos – a great way of adding all those nutritious veggies!

The Business Of Fish

September 9, 2014
by ASP Admin

Today we have another guest post from one of our senior coaches, qualified chef Priscilla Burnett! We’re lucky enough to have Priscilla discuss some simple but delicious methods to incorporate healthy quantities of fish in your diet. Enjoy!

Growing up, Friday night was fish and chip night, which was the highlight of the week. One of us would be in charge of writing who was getting what, another to run around to the shop and collect the order. And the unfortunate others would be on setting the table.

Now when I talk fish and chips, I mean FISH and chips. None of this palm sized morsel that you pay the earth for. I’m talking proper fresh juicy fish. However I’m digressing.

I’ve had a clients of late ask me how to cook and how to choose fresh fish. Melbourne is fortunate to have a host of fresh food markets to choose from.


Ideally buy your fish between Tuesday and Saturday as the fishing traulers don’t go out over the weekend.

Try and choose Australian or New Zealand fish. This way you are guaranteed clean, fresh water and the ‘catch to table’ time is drastically reduced.

Build a repoure with your fish monger. They will be more likely to give you the best cuts of fish.

Fish shouldn’t smell like Fish! Look for plump, bright coloured flesh. It shouldn’t look dull or flat or have a slimly feel to it.

If buying whole fish, the gills should be bright colour, eyes bright and still protruding.


Often you can smell fish cooking from a mile away. To help with this try cooking in an oven bag. This greatly reduces cooking time and cleaning up. Adding vegetables to the bag gives you a meal all in one.

Remember to rotate your fish. Often you find one you like and just keep buying it. Again ask your fish monger to recommend different varieties to you.

Try adding fish to the recipe for cauliflower fritters available in our ebook – Lean Cooking Made Simple

Oven bake is a hassle free way also of preparing fish. Often marinating fish overnight or during the day helps create a different flavor. Whether it be an Asian theme ginger/coriander or Spanish flare with a salsa verde.

Try mixing salmon with white fish and making fish balls. This is a great way to use end cuts and use up left overs.

A nut crust is a nice textural difference to add. Add some seasame seeds and lemon juice, blend and genourously smother fish.

Poaching fish is not commonly done in the home but is very easy. You can just use a high sided tray and fill 2cm deep with either a fish stock or white wine/water mix. Add lemon juice, salt, pepper and herbs. Place fish on a piece of baking paper with butter smeared on the inside side (side to touch fish), submerge fish almost completely in liquid. Fish is done when white droplets appear on surface.


Heading into summer, this is a nice refreshing dressing to add to your seafood dish.


Handfull of coriander
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon honey
½ cup olive oil

Shred coriander and place in bowl.
Add lime juice and zest.
Add salt, pepper and honey.
With a whisk, slowly add in olive oil making sure you are whisking the whole time.
The more oil you add, the thicker the dressing will be. So play around with oil amount for desired coating.


This has a lovely summer feel to it. It also keeps well in the fridge and can be used with chicken and pork.


  • 2 red capsicums
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and pan fried
  • ¼ cup roasted almonds
  • 2 tomatoes, skinned, deseeded, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (red wine vinegar can be substituted)
  • ½ teaspoon smoked sweet paprika


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degree.
  2. Put the capsicums on a baking paper lined tray. Cook for 30 mins or until the capsicums have turned black and started to collapse. Set aside to cool, then remove skin and seeds.
  3. Put the garlic in a food processor and blitz.
  4. Add the almonds and blitz to a coarse crumb.
  5. Add the capsicum and tomatoes, the olive oil, sherry vinegar and smoked paprika.
  6. Season to taste and set aside.



  • 2 cups nuts (salted if you like)
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut


  1. Place ingredients into food processor and pulse to semi course consistency.

You can brush fish with melted coconut oil to help with cohesion of rub.



  • Large handful of parsley
  • Handful of basil
  • Handful of mint
  • 2-3 roasted cloves garlic (quickly pan fried)
  • Small handful of capers
  • 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 8 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place all items except olive oil into food processor. While blending, drizzle in olive oil.
  2. Use as either a basting/sauce to cook seafood in or as a sauce to drizzle over once seafood is cooked.

You can play around with the consistency by how much olive oil you put in. The more you put in the thicker it will be.


Missing the satisfaction of spreading butter or margarine over your potatoes? Simply put a small container of olive oil in the fridge. It will harden and become like a soft butter! Also add garlic or herbs to create your own flavoured oil spread.

Introducing Asp Online

July 4, 2014
by ASP Admin

Today, we’re thrilled to introduce the brand new and much anticipated ASP Online! We’ve worked hard gathering your feedback over the last few months, listening to what you’d like to see at trainasp.com.au, and we can safely say we think you’ll love what we now have to show you. With the new website, you’ll soon be able to view our live class schedule, and book in online! You can send us a message if you have a query, purchase items (both physical and digital) from the new ASP Store; you can even apply for an ASPC Membership right from your browser. Keep reading below for a full list of the great new features.

Inspired by rich colours and minimalist appearance, the dynamic new ASP Online platform has been designed in-house, built in-house and will continue to expand in-house. That means if you think there’s a great feature that’s missing but would fit well in the new domain, let us know and we’re likely to add it!

Here’s to a fresh, strong and healthy new look for your ASP’s online presence, we can’t wait to see what it brings!

With the added functionality to our brand new ASP hub comes a host of new features; we’ll be making changes, edits and additions to ASP Online ongoing and this is certainly just the beginning, but here’s what we’re already excited to announce:

The ASP Store – Our very own online shop, and a flash sale on our downloadable cookbook to celebrate! More products to come soon.

Responsive – ASP Online is tailored to your internet browser. Go ahead, resize it and watch us adapt!

Centre Information – We are finally displaying everything you need to know about ASPC, right here online.

Membership Applications – Along with ASPC Membership information, we’ve even added the ability to apply online too!

Announcements – Now when we have major news, you’ll be the first to know. A noticeable header will appear at the top of our homepage highlighting anything from a sale or promotion to dates of a new course, and will disappear once you’ve seen it.

Online Booking – Strong Man, Strong Gal, Stretch, Massage; once you’ve decided you want to attend one of our scheduled sessions book in right here.
[Coming soon…]

Public Holiday Hours – We’re now showing exactly when we’re open for every public holiday of the year on our opening hours page.

Courses & Events – We’re set to be providing and hosting an array of educational seminars later this year, and now you have a place to find the details.
[Coming soon…]

Careers – Interested in joining the ASP Team? Wondering what open positions we have available? Then this page is definitely for you.
[Coming soon…]

Mobile Information Bar – Need to quickly and easily find ASP’s most important business information while you’re on the go? Our site’s mobile information bar (see below) enables exactly that.

Newsletter – Subscribing to stay up to date with ASP’s latest is now easier than ever. Simply head to the footer of any page, click newsletter, plug in your details and you’re on our mailing list!

Terms & Conditions – Full disclosure. You can view our membership terms and conditions as a downloadable PDF online at any time.

Dynamic – Perhaps the best and most exciting new feature of them all – ASP Online will change! The look, feel, content and user experience will be constantly evolving based on the feedback of you, our fans.

Newsletter – Subscribing to stay up to date with ASP’s latest is now easier than ever. Simply head to the footer of any page, click newsletter, plug in your details and you’re on our mailing list!

Terms & Conditions – Full disclosure. You can view our membership terms and conditions as a downloadable PDF online at any time.

Dynamic – Perhaps the best and most exciting new feature of them all – ASP Online will change! The look, feel, content and user experience will be constantly evolving based on the feedback of you, our fans.

Love it? Hate it? We’d love to know what you think! Head to today’s post on our Facebook Page and let us know your thoughts and suggestions with the rest of our followers.

Workshop With Billy Simmonds

June 2, 2014
by ASP Admin

After renowned Australian professional natural bodybuilder, powerlifter, martial artist and vegan Billy Simmonds’ Recent Visit to ASPC to smash out a lifting with ASP Coach Luke Tan, we are super excited to announce that Billy has produced a vegan strength and nutrition workshop, to be held right here at ASPC!

In conjunction with Prana Organic Nutrition, and supported by Saka Water, Spectablend and of course the whole team at Australian Strength Performance, we have the pleasure of hosting a three hour workshop presented by the man himself!

Enter the running for FREE TICKETS to Billy’s workshop by heading to our Facebook Page and following the prompts! We’ll be announcing the two lucky ASP Fans by next Wednesday the 4th of December. Full details for the workshop below.










In Part 1 of the session Billy will discuss in detail nutritional concepts ranging from foundational basics through to competition dieting, raw foods, meal structuring, how to stay lean while building muscle, supplement reviews and more.

Part 2 will involve a look at different training protocols and the most effective for varying levels of ability and experience.

Part 3 will be practical with tuition during some fun lifting games and then an intense metabolic conditioning circuit.

There will be alkaline water with amino acids and a delicious post-workout smoothie provided for each attendee.

Numbers are strictly capped to ensure an intimate, personalised workshop.

Cost includes full participation in both nutrition & strength sessions, personalised written notes including programs and a gift bag.

It is recommended you are already undertaking some level of exercise if you are expecting to fully participate and benefit from the session.

To secure your spot please send the below details to Billy at bws_21@hotmail.com

  • Name
  • Age
  • Training Experience
  • Injuries/Food Allergies
  • What you are most wanting to learn to help you get to the next level
  • Estimated personal bests in both deadlift and squat
  • Your preferred t-shirt

Payment can be made via Paypal with bws_21@hotmail.com as the ID.

“This will be a ground breaking workshop and I look forward to seeing you there to share with you all my knowledge. Being strong and fit as a vegan is by far one of the best lifestyles for your health, the environment and of course other animals so please join me and become a POWERPLANT!!! ”

— Billy Simmonds


May 7, 2014
by ASP Admin

Today we have a guest post from one of our inhouse specialists – ASP Coach Priscilla Burnett! As well as being a full-time ASP Coach, Priscilla is also a qualified chef, and with many years experience in the culinary industry she is here to discuss her top tips to spice things up in your kitchen!

The most common issues I have found with my clients when it comes to their nutrition, is the challenge of creating exciting meals within their prescribed nutritional guidelines. Food for them can often become bland, mundane and just plain boring when focusing more on the nutritional parameters that we’ve recommended. As a Chef and ASP Coach though, I have the opportunity to use my years in the kitchen as a tool to offer clients ideas to ‘spice up their lives’.

Below I have compiled some of my most most popular ideas for you to try for yourself at home!


When I start to talk about cabbage, Brussel sprouts and cauliflower, many of you will conjure up some horrid image of a plateful of soggy, overcooked mush. Unfortunately for these humble, nutritious vegetables, many of you have discarded them from your dinner tables. But it is actually not their fault they’ve gained the poor reputation they have over the years, it’s ours!

With the Great Depression affecting the way many foods were cooked, the ritual of boiling vegetables and leaving absolutely no nutrient value left in them became the norm for many of us growing up. However, this process also left a bad taste in our mouths, pun absolutely intended!

So, let me show you how these little gems can be the delight that they were always meant to be and the highlight of your next feast.


igh in vitamin C, cut the cauliflower into florets and also add as much of the stem as possible. As with any vegetables with a stem, this is where most of the nutrients are, as the stem is the ‘straw’ in which the plant draws up the nutrients from the ground.

Drizzle a small amount of walnut oil, fresh rosemary and season with salt & pepper.

Roast in oven for 20 minutes.

Remove when florets are browned and starting to blacken on the ends. This brings out a lovely nutty flavour to the cauliflower.


Try slicing celery and leaving to macerate in orange juice.

The orange juice brings a sweetness that helps cut the acidity often associated with celery. Serve either as a side or add kale and walnuts and serve as a tasty twist to a Waldolf Salad!

Brussel Sprouts

Possibly the most hated of vegetables, but with the help of some friends can be the enjoyment of your dinner party!

Pan fry sprouts with a nob of organic butter, sliced bacon and chestnuts.

This can be served as a salad, but is also excellent as a compliment to a pork dish.

The bacon brings saltiness to the dish and adds texture to compliment the softness of the Brussel sprouts.

Priscilla was one of the masterminds behind the recipes in ASP’s first cookbook! Lean Cooking Made Simple incorporates similar methods to those mentioned above to help spice up your nutritional routine, with

nutritional break downs, facts and tips, all based around healthy, wholesome foods! Check out the link below to grab your copy, only $11.00!


5 Tips To Get You Squatting Deeper

April 24, 2014
by ASP Admin

Following our recent post discussing the benefits of squatting squat ‘arse to grass’ we have here a much-needed follow up post providing five tips for HOW you can perform such an essential, but somewhat difficult exercise, and safely. As always with these topics they are likely to generate questions and queries, so please feel free to Contact Us or post your questions, feedback, and experiences on our Facebook Page.

1. Stretch Your Calves

Often the main reason you may not able to go deeper in your squats is tight calves. Try loosening up your calves using an isometric stretch on a leg press – holding each stretch at the lowest position for a minimum of 20 seconds and changing the position of your feet from pointing inwards, neutral and outwards.

2. Elevate Your Heels

By elevating your heels on a platform, you shorten the calf muscles and push the knees forward. This allows your body to be kept more upright as you move deeper into the squat, and also has the added advantage of making the squat a more quad dominant exercise.

3. Stretch Your Lower Back

A tight lower back can often cause your back to round as you descend into the squat, putting unnecessary stain on the lumbar erectors. Performing supine windmills beforehand can help loosen the back muscles, facilitating a deeper and more effective squat.w to get a better night’s sleep! In the meantime, sleep tight!

4. Widen Your Stance

Place your feet slightly wider than your hips, and turn your feet slightly (10-15 degrees) outwards. This creates a greater degree of movement for the femur (thigh bone), at the hip joint, allowing you to squat past a ‘parallel thigh’ position. Anatomically, this position tends to be more ‘natural’ and further activates the strong gluteal muscles, enabling you to lift a heavier load with increased stability.

5. Squat With Chains

Using training aids like chains are useful not only in overloading the squat at the top, but also assisting in deepening the range of movement at the bottom of the exercise.

Squatting Arse To Grass– Why Should We Do It?

April 7, 2014
by ASP Admin

All too often we are taught to limit our squatting to just below parallel rather than perform full ‘arse to grass’ squats, because it is a ‘safer alternative’. The main argument being that a full squat places a lot more stress on our knees and ligaments.

While from a static anatomical standpoint, this argument is seemingly true, our body actually behaves different in a dynamic movement under load. For example, supporting structures like cartilage and ligaments work to dissipate the intensification of stress on joints. On sensing the increased load, stretch receptor cells in the joint alert the brain to increase the muscular and ligamentous stability in and around the joint capsule, thus preventing injury.

There are circumstances a full squat would not be initially advised, such as for individuals with disintegrated or damaged knee cartilage, post knee operation patients, or individuals with disc bulges or spinal issues. In the majority of clients with knee issues though, it is ironically their years of half squatting, poor technique and the lack of full squatting that forms the root of their problem.

The Benefits

So, if a full Range Of Motion (ROM) squat is not bad for us, what exactly are the advantages of performing such an exercise?

  • Recent research has shown that full ROM squats help to strengthen the ligaments around the knees, and maintain the capsule integrity.
  • Squatting through a full range of motion helps to minimise imbalances of the quadriceps muscles by forcing the muscles to work through the lower half of its movement capacity, as well as reduce imbalances between the quadriceps and hamstrings.
  • It encourages optimal muscle recruitment and activation over a larger range of motion, leading to better quadriceps development.
  • Deep squatting helps to activate the lower fibers of the Vastus Medialis Oblique (VMO), which serve a critical purpose of stabilizing the knee during movements like running and jumping.
  • Full squatting is an instinctive movement pattern of the body, like walking or breathing. For example, perfect squatting techniques are best observed in children, who perform the exercise with ease and without instruction.
  • It can help to eliminate knee pain caused by patella-femoral tracking syndrome which ironically can be caused by muscular imbalances and tight iliotibial band as a result of partial squatting.

Protein For The Vegetarian/Vegan

March 22, 2014
by ASP Admin

With the increasing number of vegan clients and athletes we are training, we are also proud to introduce ASP Senior Strength Coach Luke as a competing athlete and passionate vegan! In this post, he highlights the importance of protein for vegans/vegetarian and identifies some great sources to obtain a variety of different proteins.

Whether it’s because you’ve been brought up as one, you detest the taste and texture of meat or perhaps, you are one for ethical or spiritual reasons, you are a vegetarian/vegan.

Vegetarians/vegans consume a large proportion of their calories from whole and natural plant based products, hence a typical vegetarian diet will be high in carbohydrates (mainly sugars), starches and fibres. Sugars and starches provide a great energy source for training, while the fibre in the diet helps with digestion, detoxification and sugar regulation. Just as common though, is that the vegetarian/vegan diet has an overall lower protein content.

Since protein is the one of the main macronutrients that facilitates critical bodily processes, cellular repair, muscle growth, immunity and overall health, particular attention must be paid. As opposed to a traditional meat eater’s diet where protein is readily available, a vegetarian needs to consume a greater volume and variety of protein rich food to have the necessary amino acids (basic building blocks of protein) and achieve muscle-building goals.


1. Legumes

Legumes (also known as “pulses”) are a group of plant foods that boast a high protein content. They are also a good source of fibre, zinc, magnesium and iron. Examples of legumes include lentils, cooked beans (eg: kidney, black & red beans, chickpeas, lima beans, etc.) and peas. A cup of cooked legumes yields approximately 13-18 grams of protein.

As legumes contain certain fibres and sugars that are only ingested in the gut instead of the small intestine, consumption of legumes has been associated with bloating and gas. To prevent and minimise these occurrences, start with small amounts and slowly increase your portions. Do not mix legumes with simple sugars in the same sitting. Wait at least 30-45 minutes before consuming any fruits. Additionally, soak beans overnight and discard the water before cooking them (not necessary for lentils).

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2. Nuts & Seeds

Nuts and seeds are another alternate protein source, and provide ‘good fats’ that your body needs for brain and cell development as well. Nuts and seeds also help induce a feeling of satiety (feeling full).

Both chia and flax are a great source of omega-3s for the vegetarian. Omega-3s reduce cancer risks, promote immune function and support healthy cognitive development.

Protein content for various nuts:

  1.  ¼ cup of raw almonds : 6 grams of protein
  2.  ¼ cup of walnuts : 5 grams of protein
  3. tablespoons of natural peanut butter (unsweetened) : 8 grams of protein
  4. 2 tablespoons of flaxseed : 7 grams of protein
  5. 2 tablespoons of chia seed : 6 grams of protein

3. Soy

Soy is a commonly used source of protein because of it’s digestibility and high protein content. Since soy is a grain that’s quite often genetically modified, opt for organic and GMO free should you wish to consume it. Tempeh, natto (fermented soy beans), edamame beans, tofu are some examples of soy products. Soy milk, although popular is often also highly refined, processed and sugared. As such, opt for alternatives like almond, oat or rice milk.

Protein content in some soy products

  1. 1 cup edamame beans : 16 grams of protein
  2. 125 grams of tempeh : 25 grams of protein
  3. 125 grams of firm tofu : 20 grams of protein

Some people can be allergic to soy products, so before consuming, check to see if this includes you. There has also been substantial research showing that soy can exert an estrogenic effect on the body. Over consumption of soy could thus lead to accumulation of fat especially in the thighs, an increase in estrogen and concomitant suppression of testosterone (a muscle-building hormone). For an individual looking to build muscle and lean up, such effects can prove counterproductive to their goals.

4. Whole Grains

Not only do grains provide a great source of carbohydrates for energy, they also contain a decent amount of protein and are a great source fiber.

Protein content for some common grains:

  1. 1 cup of brown rice : 5 grams of protein
  2. 1 cup of wild rice : 6 grams of protein
  3. 1 cup of quinoa : 11 grams of protein
  4. 1 cup of oatmeal : 6 grams of protein

It’s important to note that oatmeal on its own, though gluten free, may have traces of gluten through cross contamination. If possible, always opt for gluten free choices for all foods. Gluten is highly allergenic to many individuals and is one of the common causes of food insensitivities and intolerances we face.


Given that a vegetarian/vegan’s diet often lacks protein, it is important to consider supplementing the body with these options:

Rice, Pea or Soy Protein Isolate – These can be great alternatives to whey protein. Shaken, stirred or mixed, they provide a convenient protein boost to your diet. Each serve (depending on scoop size) typically contains approximately 25-30 grams of protein.

Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) – BCAAs are a primary source of fuel for the muscles during a workout. They aid optimal muscle recovery and help boost testosterone levels. Taken pre, intra and post-workout, BCAAs assist the building of lean muscle and fuel the fat burning process.

Amino Acid Complex – This can constitute a range of different amino acids, which aim to counteract the lack of certain proteins due to a vegan/vegetarian diet. You can opt for these throughout the day to supplement and meet individual daily protein intake needs.

Lysine – This essential amino acid is often lacking in many plant based foods, with its highest concentrations being in soy based foods, lentils and legumes. Furthermore, lysine is also depleted during a workout. So if you are working often, and are a vegan/vegetarian, be sure to add lysine to your supplement stash.


Your body’s priority is to achieve a state of homeostasis (remaining the same or ‘normal’) as this ensures your survival. Putting on muscle mass therefore requires you to consume a substantial amount of protein and calories more than ‘normal’. To calculate the approximate amount of protein required to gain muscle mass, here’s a simple formula:

1.5 to 3.0 (depending on activity levels) x bodyweight (kg) = Protein (g) needed per day.

If you have identified that in your vegetarian diet you are not consuming the necessary amount of protein for muscle growth and recovery, now’s a good time to start! Keep in mind these few points when designing a good vegetarian/vegan diet:

Eat Frequently – Aim to have 5-7 meals per day (including protein shakes & supplements) to keep those protein levels in check.

Maintain Variety – Vary your intake of plant based proteins to ensure the body receives a full spectrum of amino acids. This also prevents you from getting tired of always eating the same types of foods.

Limit Processed Foods – Foods such as veggie patties and sausages are highly processed, sugared and contain large amounts of gluten. Aim to consume mainly whole and natural foods. However, should you opt for processed foods, choose a gluten/wheat free alternative.

Go Gluten Free – Not only are most people’s digestive tracks insensitive to gluten, long-term consumption gluten has also been shown to slow down brain synapse function, thus affecting brain cognitive abilities and reaction time.

Maximise Nutrient Absorption For Muscle Growth

February 6, 2014
by ASP Admin

Training for mass gain? Looking to lean up by increasing your muscle mass? Be sure to maximise your nutrient absorption to maximise your muscle growth!

We should all know by now that muscle hypertrophy is dependant on a lot more than just an increased dietary protein intake. But what exactly should we be consuming to promote a significant and healthy increase in lean muscle mass? Here’s five of our top supplemental/nutritional recommendations to promoting optimal muscle growth.

1. Bicarbonates

Bicarbonates, such as those found in natural sparkling water, are very helpful in increasing stomach hydrochloric acid (HCL) production which supports the effective digestion and absorption of food.

If you are looking to build muscle, then first ensure the food you consume is effectively broken down and absorbed.

2.Prebiotics and Probiotics

High quality pre and probiotic are necessary to ensure the flourishing of good gut bacteria. These nutritional aids ensure you have a healthy absorption system and prevent the onset of stomach bugs. The latter being an all too common setback in the form of unnecessary weight loss.

3. Zinc

Zinc is the precursor for the absorption of all nutrients. It also assists in increasing stomach HCL production and is a necessary ingredient for the production of testosterone, a prime hormone for muscle gain.

 4. Magnesium

Dietary magnesium is a nutrient that works synergistically with zinc. Daily intake can help suppress stress levels, prevent weight gain across the stomach regions and increase testosterone levels through the reduction of cortisol.

 5. Saturated Fat

Saturated fat is an essential component in the production of fat-soluble hormones like testosterone, cholesterol for healthy brain integrity and function, and also promotes an optimal metabolic rate. Often, the inability to lose weight and gain muscle can be directly attributed to the lack of saturated fat intake. Some great sources of saturated fat include cold-pressed coconut oil and organic servings of butter.

Brain Food – Eating To Make Us Smarter, Faster!

January 23, 2014
by ASP Admin

Sluggish, demotivated or just a bit off? It’s possible your brain is depleted of the vital nutrients it needs to run at optimum condition. Here’s five supplemental/nutritional tips to get your nervous system running like a well-oiled machine again!

1. Acetyl-L Carnitine

The acetylated form of carnitine is the only form to cross the blood brain barrier, and is extremely effective in assisting energy production for increased brain function.

2. GPC (Glycerophosphocholine)

Commonly available as Alpha-GPC, Glycerophosphocholine is a naturally occurring chemical shown to drastically improve cognition, mood elevation and attention span. Its benefits have been unanimously highlighted in many independent, scientific trials.

3. PS (Phosphatidyl Serine)

Like GPC, Phosphatidyl Serine has been shown to help individuals cope better with emotional and mental stress, as well as drastically improve memory.

4. Taurine

Another common brain booster, Taurine is an amino acid that helps to reduce anxiety and stress, allowing you to make better decisions. Furthermore, if you have difficulty night and especially if you supplement with large amounts BCAAs during workouts, it’s more than likely taurine can help solve that problem.

5. The First ‘Protein Hit’ is critical

By ensuring that protein is the first food/drink that enters your mouth in the morning (after brushing your teeth of course), you increase the production of neuropeptide Y – a motivation chemical that keeps you more alert and enables you to make better food choices throughout the day.

The Biggest Loser ? – Our Biggest Inspiration!

December 16, 2013
by ASP Admin

If you’ve seen any of our Success Stories, you might have thought “that’s impossible!” or “ I don’t believe it”. With so many gimmicks in the fitness industry, it’s hard to believe that transformations of such calibre are possible, let alone natural!

The truth is, every single ASP transformation is genuine.

More importantly though, they are a personal testament to the hard work, dedication, sweat, lifestyle inconveniences and even tears shed by each ASP client. Each person’s story is different and unique. Some struggle more than others, falling back into old habits along the way. Others lose sight of their goals, and a few have given up altogether.

Then there are those who continue on, picking themselves up after each fall, choosing to move forward. These clients of ours haven’t completed a 12 week transformation, haven’t followed every piece of advice given, may have lost focus, cheated and many a times been on the verge of leaving. Yet their determination, perseverance and constant desire to change serve to remind us every day exactly why we do what we do.

One such client is someone we call the ‘silent warrior’, and this is his inspirational story:

At 175 kilos, I was the heaviest I had ever been. It wasn’t always like that. I was an active and popular kid, but things started to change growing up. Throughout my high school years, I became a victim of social abuse, incessant bullying and was marginalised from my peers. Feeling lonely, unloved and hating the world – myself included, I began indulging in food as my sole comfort.

This, as I was soon to realise, was to become a common trend in the years ahead. By the end of high school, I had gained 75 kilos and weighted in at whooping 115 kilos! With poor grades but the prospect of a shot at real life, I decided to join the workforce instead, looking for a trade apprenticeship. Again, I was overlooked because of my weight, and so with no further option in mind, I turned to labouring. During this time, I had tried to join a gym in an attempt to get fitter, but would always get intimidated by the huge bodybuilder types who were lifting insane amounts of weights. Moreover, I couldn’t help feeling that whenever I was exercising, people would stare and comment about how fat I was.

My labouring job did not last for long, and I quickly moved into the security industry, believing that this time my size and weight would be an advantage. How wrong I was! The bullying did not stop there as I hoped, with colleagues and patrons still calling me fat, and on one occasion, even had someone grab my belly fat in an attempt to insult me. Such ridicule continued year after year.

So here I was, 4 years later, standing at my heaviest – morbidly obese, unhealthy, unfit and extremely unhappy. One thing that became clear throughout this time was that I did not want to live like that anymore. I was huge fan of mixed martial arts (MMA) and the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC), and decided that I wanted to become a fighter, or at least get fit doing so. Not knowing where to start, I enlisted in an MMA gym and followed a strict bodybuilding style diet introducing 1-2 cheat meals through the week. For 3 whole months, I trained twice a day, but had not lost any weight whatsoever. I could not understand this and felt perhaps I could do with some expert advice. After seeing the amazing transformation of a friend David Crow, with Australian Strength Performance, I was convinced that these guys had the knowledge to help me out. The following day, I called Ben Siong – the Founder of ASP – to tell him my story, and that was the beginning of my new life.

I had never felt more welcomed anywhere than with ASP. On commencing, Ben introduced a personalised diet plan which was completely different from the plan I was on, put me on a training protocol under ASP Coach Priscilla, and implemented some big lifestyle changes.

The effectiveness of the program was immediate. I was getting lighter, fitter, stronger and felt on top of the world. But my journey wasn’t like that all the time. After two months, I gradually began slipping back into my old habits and self-sabotaging mindset, and found myself cheating with food. Each time it happened, I justified my actions and then felt compelled to lie, hoping Ben would not know. However, my weekly BioSignature sessions would inadvertently give it away.

Being the awesome mentor he was, Ben would never blame me, but encourage and coach me through my mis-actions, pushing me further whenever I hit a rough patch in my weight loss journey. Each time, we would refocus on my goals and try again. It’s incredible to experience such a level of support especially when you never had any going through your whole life.

With the help of Team ASP, I competed in my first competition of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in November 2012. I beat one opponent and faired very well against two others. Unfortunately, during this time my best friend suffered a personal loss in his family and this affected me deeply. Over the next few months I once again found myself in the slums, facing an uphill battle to maintain my motivation and training.

Then it happened one day during one of his consult, that Ben suggested I work to become a personal trainer. Not just any trainer, but an ASP coach whom he will take under his wing and develop. I could not believe it! Here was a suggestion that I have never thought possible – a morbidly obese, self hating, depressed person aspiring to become an ASP coach? It took a while to sink in, but I now see what Ben sees – that I have the potential to inspire others, to tell my story and help people who have experienced the same things I have.

Having lost 28 kilos so far (24 kilos in fat!), with ASP, I’m still far from my goal weight. I am also little apprehensive of the thought of being a trainer, but I’m choosing to take the challenge face on. My name is George Menelaou, I am proud of who I am, and I have a story to share, a story about my continuing journey – a story about how determination and self belief can make anything possible!”

As George mentions we will be keeping a close eye on his progress over the coming weeks & months, and we’ll be posting updates for you too! We’ll discuss details of his exercise regimen, how he is managing to lose all his weight healthily, as well as the challenges he faces and overcomes.

Want to send your well wishes to George? We’ll be promoting his story on our Facebook page shortly after this post, so please share, like or leave a comment

Bringing Sexy Back! Five Ways To Increase Your Sex Drive

November 15, 2013
by ASP Admin

In our modern technological age, with televisions, computers and phones dictating every waking minute of our lives, it’s quite common to find ourselves with increased feelings of stress or tiredness. We now place less importance on the healthy, stress relieving habits that keep our psyches in balance; like sex! Our libidos are extremely important energies and are also prime indicators of both psychological and physical stress. Here we share a few great tips from ASP to get you back in balance and naturally bringing sexy back!

1. Sleep is Critical

Sleep is vital for optimal energy production and a great training session. But restless nights don’t only affect your daily activity, they can also take their toll on bedroom antics! To ensure a good night sleep, make an effort to remove yourself from the television or computer screen a good 30 minutes before bed. This allows your mind to wind down and dissipate the adrenaline built up from it’s flashing, bright lights.

Sleep in a dark room with no lights (includes phones or television standby lights), as the receptors on your skin may keep you awake in response to the light.

Check out our Sleep Remedies post for more tips on gaining a better night’s sleep.

2. Learn to Relax

All too often the built up stress from the daily grind can deplete the production of sex hormones like testosterone and DHEA, and this can diminish one’s sex drive. Supplementing with magnesium and taurine often helps to reduce anxiety and ease the mind.

3. The Brain is the Sexiest Organ in the Human Body!

Now, although that may come down to a matter of opinion, there’s no disputing that having an increased concentration span and a positive, motivated attitude throughout the day is a great start to feeling sexy all over again. Supplementing with up to 600mg of Alpha-GPC per day has also been shown to be highly effective in enhancing brain cognition and mood.

4. Take a Quality Electrolyte Daily

Sweating and/or a diet high in ‘convenience foods and sodas’ can lead to the depleting of the body from much needed salts like sodium, magnesium and potassium, which are critical to optimal energy and health. Because energy is often a limiting factor to a healthy sex drive, more energy means you can now bring your sexy back! A quality electrolyte is ‘Electrolyte PX’ developed by Dr Mark Schauss, and will help give you that boost you’re after.

5. No One Feels Sexy When Bloated

Let’s face it, there’s no feeling good when you’re poorly digesting your dinner, yet nowadays we are constantly bloated because of the foods we consume. This can often be due to intolerances to foods like homogenised and pasturised diary, nuts, gluten (in breads and pastas), or even eggs. Apart from cutting out these foods from your diet, use a good pre and pro-biotic to aid nutrient absorption and dissipate that uncomfortable bloated feeling. There’s no greater aphrodisiac than feeling sexy in your skin!

The Fat Diaries Confessions Of a Fat Molecule

October 15, 2013
by ASP Admin

Struggling to lose that festive season bulge?

Looking to shed that final 1% body fat that just won’t move?

Below are four untold truths of fat that may change your perception on what’s best for your body, and might just be the key to dropping those kilos!

1. Everyday Fat Cells DON’T Multiply!

Fat gain is actually often due to an increase in the storage size of the fat cells, NOT the number. The only time fat cells multiply is during puberty or pregnancy. As a result, individuals who tend to gain fat during those times, will find it harder to lose weight.

TIP: A great tip for accelerating that fat loss is coupling a high quality flexseed/ fish oil together with L-carnitine. This helps to increase the energy production of the cell and increase overall metabolism.

2. High Cholesterol is NOT a Be All and End All Indicator

Having a ‘High Cholesterol’ level may not be all that bad. Cholesterol is a lipid molecule found in all cell membranes and a main constituent of our brains. Sometimes, a high cholesterol reading can actually reflect the natural response of the body to replenish the loss of cholesterol via cell disruptions like stress or cell oxidation. So in fact, high cholesterol can often just indicate the body’s healthy process of repairing itself.

3. Fat is the Body’s Toxin Storage System

Fat accumulation is the body’s natural protective instinct against the effects of toxins. From petrochemicals and xenoestrogens to heavy metals, we are in contact with at least 200 of these toxins on a daily basis, causing our bodies to be in a constant state of protection. It is no wonder why our population is getting fatter and more disease ridden.

4. Saturated Fat is Essential!

Saturated Fat is critical to maintain cell membrane integrity and an essential synergist for the effective absorption of amino acids in the body. It is therefore imperative we include servings of unprocessed saturated fat in our diets. Societal emphasis on low fat and high carb/astpartamic products has no doubt contributed to a population deprived of essential proteins for body repair and detoxification.

Got a question? We’d love to hear from you! Post your queries, experiences of feedback on our Facebook wall here and we’ll get back to you the best we can!

Trainer Challenge : A Lot Can Happen In Two Weeks!

September 15, 2013
by ASP Admin

Here at ASP we have recently had the privilege of transforming three trainers from varied training backgrounds into the best shape of their lives. As part of the expansion of the ASP Service offering, we are looking to accommodate the many requests we get from our clients, fans and supporters for a body transformation ‘quick fix’. Whether it be for a rapidly approaching event, milestone or time in our lives, we all want significant, visible results, and fast!

So, what better way to test our condensed and intensified program, designed only for those are serious about achieving their goals of looking and feeling their absolute best, than trying it out on already gym-seasoned trainers?!

The three personal trainer ‘guinea pigs’, only one of whom is from Melbourne and therefore had any previous exposure to ASP underwent an accelerated two week phase including BioSignature Modulation and condense ASP Evolution program. Click any of the Success Story thumbnails below to see their transformations in detail, the results speak for themselves!




After his two week phase, personal trainer Brian has even taken to writing about his ASP training experience on his, and our blog! Check out his experience here

My Aaustralian Strength Performance Experience

August 15, 2013
by ASP Admin

Today’s post is a guest post by the newest member to the ASP Team – Brian Zaugg. Brian is a Bachelor of Physical Education (BPhEd) graduate from New Zealand with a double major in Exercise Science and Prescription, and has been training with ASP for some time now. For more information or posts of Brian’s check out his brand new blog at zauggb.wordpress.com

After travelling and working around the United States for over a year, my journey brought to Melbourne, Australia where I was in search for some work. After a few weeks of searching, I landed a job at Fitness First Melbourne Central, one of the cities most popular gyms. While spending some time there I was fortunate enough to meet a trainer by the name of Ben Siong. A few talks later and we soon found each other appreciating the same training methods and principles. It was then that I was introduced to his company – Australian Strength Performance. Ben and his elite team of trainers take a scientific approach to achieve results for clientele, which include but are not limited to optimal body composition, body transformations, sport specific training, and strength work. Ben, one of Australia’s leading body composition experts founded the operation after experiencing years in the fitness industry and countless certifications in an effort to keep progressing and expanding his knowledge. He follows the methods and teachings of expert lifestyle, strength and conditioning coaches, including world-renowned Charles Poliquin.

While I could list all of Ben’s credentials, it is more important to specify that Ben’s Bachelor of Science and Psychology Honours, PICP Level 4 (theory qualified), and BioSignature certification speak for themselves. It is this knowledge that has drawn me to ASP allowing me to be fortunate enough to work with them as a consultant and now, fitness writer on their website!

Well, enough of the formalities! I’m sure you are all curious to know whether I train with them and the answer is YES. Along with my own personalised program and nutritional/supplemental biosignature program, we all do a team workout once a week together that is devised by Ben. Every Thursday theASP Team and myself hesitantly prepare ourselves for what is about to be revealed. None of us know what the program will look like until it gets handed out to us at the briefing prior to the session. This is Ben’s idea of “being in the trenches” style learning with a hard lesson in session planning, training protocol (rep ranges, sets, and tempos), as well as exercise selection and technique all occurring the week prior to the session.

Now, I will start off by saying I’m not a novice by any standard of my training age, I’ve been doing this for a few years now for myself and as a profession, and this training style is not for the faint hearted. There’s none of this bodybuilding style, set, rest, mirror flex, set, rest, and bang out as much weight (even if your technique is dangerously terrible) as possible stuff. All of it is a precisely calculated programming with each aspect having a specific purpose. I can’t give away too many secrets but I can say that there were definitely times where I thought I was going to throw up, pass out, curl up in a foetal position and cry as it broke me. Don’t even get me started on the rigor mortis feeling of delayed onset muscle soreness the next day when you try to get out of bed! But there is something very humbling when you complete such a session; you feel a sense of achievement as well as mental growth. I have never been one of those trainers who just read sources and prescribes. How could I, being in an industry that is based on physical activity? With such an attitude, how would I know what it is like to truly go through the pain and commitment of a client for the resulting effect?

Speaking of such an effect, I am currently working with Ben through a 12-week transformation challenge. The abovementioned year of travelling brought all of its challenges such as lack of gym access (at $30US a workout 5 times a week, you do the math), less then ideal nutrition, and the ever-present peer pressure of late night socialising. I realise many of you reading this will think that a serious trainer would have found a way but honestly, that would have taken away from my entire globetrotting experience. Now that I have got that out of my system, I’m itching to get back and surpass how I once was. I am roughly halfway through the transformation process and will be posting final results in a ‘Part 2′ of this article. So stay tuned for progress pictures, stats, thoughts, and some more insight about what ASP has to offer. But if you can’t wait that long, contact either myself, or Ben through the website and go through it yourself!


Above is a sneak peak of Brian’s progress in his ASP Evolution Transformation. Along with his 12 week program mentioned above, Brian was also part of a ‘two week trainer challenge’ where ASP had the privilege of transforming three trainers from varied backgrounds into the best shape of their lives, in less than fourteen days! Incredible changes already Brian, and only two of twelve weeks down!

For full details and images of the two week trainer transformations, head to our Trainer Challenge: A Lot Can Happen In Two Weeks! blog post.

Motivation 101 Getting Psyched For Results

June 21, 2013
by ASP Admin

If you’re a working individual, then finding time to work out on a regular basis can often pose a challenge. With the amount of work and extracurricular commitments we tend to have on our plate, it is no wonder that so many of us find the most convenient excuses when it comes to exercise.

For the growing minority of health and body conscious individuals, going to the gym has become a set routine several days a week. While regular workouts are commendable, performing the same circuit of exercises repeatedly (whether it’s a weights or cardio based program) can often see you hit a plateau. The lack of further progress can get quite discouraging, and this represents the main reason why gym goers lose motivation, give up and quit altogether.

Whichever category you are in and whatever stage you’re at with your training, here are some tools that will see you thrive in the long haul, and keep you pressing on towards your weight loss, muscle gain or performance goals!


The title says it all – planning is essential should you want to get clear vision of what you want for yourself.

Objective and Measurable Goals – The first rule for planning is to list down objective and measurable goals for yourself. This means rather than forming a subjective ideal (e.g. I want a body like Halle Berry or like that guy on the cover of Men’s Health magazine), list down something specific like clothing size or bicep circumference. If you are training for athletic performance, aim for measurable goals such as target lifts, sprint times or vertical leap height.

Objective goals are not only easier to monitor, but they also help prevent against subjective body image illusions. Some of us are overly harsh on ourselves and are never satisfied with great results because of our own self-perception. For example, a person suffering from ‘Biggerexia’ will always see himself as smaller and weaker compared to everyone, even though this may not be the case. As such, objective evidence of muscle growth and progress helps ease these subjective perceptions. On the flipside, some lazy underachievers may ‘feel’ like they’ve lost weight after one workout session and overly reward themselves. Objective evidence serves as a reality check and tells you exactly where you are at.

Realistic Timeframes – The second rule of planning is to set realistic timeframes for your objective goals. False expectations can often lead to being left disappointed and discouraged. Because every person differs physically with regard to training years, muscle composition, diet, etc., it’s important to understand that some workout programs may work more efficiently for others than for you. Consult with a health professional, strength coach or personal trainer to get a better idea of what timeframe is likely for a typical person of your health, age or gender.

Divide and Conquer –  Rule number 3 is to divide and conquer. That is, breakdown your timeline and set goals (which may be a 6-month or year-long endeavour) into fortnightly targets which you can review as you go along. Short-term goals are essential to keeping motivational levels high and regular monitoring of progress will also give you a better idea of how well you are tracking. If you want extra motivation, take monthly pictures of yourself to track your progress. Seeing the visual evidence for yourself can be a strong source of motivation!

Reward Yourself – The fourth and final rule of planning is to reward yourself when you meet your short term goals! Rewards act as a form of positive reinforcement and can be a great motivational tool. Caution: Make sure the rewards are appropriate. Don’t go undoing all your hard work by over-indulging in a 2000 calorie meal if you’ve only lost a kilo!


Be honest with yourself. Why are you doing this? What exactly fuels your motivation to exercise? Whether it’s looking good, to excel in your sport or other health reasons, you need to know exactly what you stand to gain. List down all the things that motivate you – the aesthetics, the health benefits, getting into that wedding dress, making sure the abs appear before that euro trip in summer, etc. Having this written clearly and pasting it up so you can conveniently see it every day will act as an constant reminder – a great motivational tool. Try putting yours on your bathroom mirror!


Sometimes, things just don’t go to plan, or we slip up. But hey, that’s part of the journey and being down on yourself won’t improve the situation. Refocus and set your eyes on the prize. With any problem, there is always more than one way to overcome it.

For instance, I find that with many of my bodybuilders who have to be extremely strict when dieting for a show, the urge to binge on sweets can sometimes be overpowering. Those that give in tend to consume ridiculous amounts of sugary foods that can set their progress back by a few weeks, and beating themselves up for this setback will only lead to more binges and guilt trips throughout their competition preparation. Many individuals have and will give up because of this roller coaster ride of emotions.

My solution? An unorthodox approach adopted from regular visitor to us at ASPC in Melbourne, Coach Poliquin – give them some heavy cream and cinnamon powder whenever the sugar cravings hit. Delightful to the taste buds, this little maneuver satisfies sugar cravings and in fact reduces their further desire for sweets – all whilst maintaining a low sugar intake.


Visualisation is a technique used by many coaches to achieve success for their athletes. It follows the logic that you would be more motivated and thus likely to succeed once you can perceive what succeeding feels like. One of the ways I like to use this tool is by getting my athletes is to use all their five senses to embrace what it feels like to have already achieved their goal. These are some of the questions I commonly ask:

  1. What can you SEE during your moment of success? Is it the crowd screaming or are you looking at gold medal in your hands?
  2. How does it FEEL to have achieved it? Do you feel invincible, My break washing
  3. on top of the world, or speechless, emotional perhaps?
  4. Describe what you TASTE? Is it the celebratory champagne after the victory, or the sweat just after the winning try?
  5. What can you HEAR around you? A cheering crowd after you lifted your PB, or
  6. curly.
    fans screaming your name?
  7. Is there a familiar SMELL? The smell of rain on the tarmac after your winning sprint or the scent of chalk on your hands after a successful lift.
  8. Similarly, you can always embrace your personal success story by envisioning it. Make sure you embrace the sense of victory, the way your body feels and looks, the confidence levels and the satisfaction of success. By doing so, you lock a real experience of success within your sub-conscious. This establishes a pathway that will actively guide your conscious actions towards making your goal a reality.


To make this a successful tool, ‘Anticipating your Pitfalls’ is best practiced as a 3-part process:

  1. Acknowledge your downfalls and make sure you write them down. This may be your love for beer or sweet desserts, or even a busy schedule which always serves as a valid excuse for skipping a workout session.
  2. Anticipate the situations that will put you face to face with these vices, and stay far away from them. If it’s there, you are more likely to give in to it.
  3. Replace that anticipated vice with a positive action. For example, when going out clubbing with mates on a Friday will lead to drinking, make the effort to go out and watch a movie instead. By taking the pitfall out of the picture, it does not become an option. Here’s another: If you know you tend to procrastinate and skip workouts, then find a gym partner to keep you accountable and set yourself a fixed time for each gym session. If you prioritise it just like you would a hot date, you’ll never miss it!


It is said that you are the product of the 5 people you hang around most with… so if you are constantly around people who encourage negative actions, or persuade you to lose sight of your goals, you are more likely to give into them than you are to push through and succeed.

Aim to surround yourself with people that will support you in your quest for your goals. Choose your gym partners wisely – aim to workout with people who are also dedicated to working hard, rather than chit-chatters who stand around talking for 5 minutes between each weights set.


May 8, 2013
by ASP Admin

“I’ll have a sparkling water, please.”

It has been a long week filled with deadlines, meetings and presentations. It is 5:30pm on a sunny Friday evening. “What a welcome to the weekend!” everyone is thinking.

Terry, an office worker (whom you often see queuing up for a large coke and popcorn at the cinemas) has just arrived in the beer garden and is about to order 2 pints of cider. There is a two-for-one offer from 5pm to 7pm and he is hoping to get as many in as possible. Not far behind in the line, is Terry’s colleague Jake. Jake, a well built athletic 40 something (who loves Saturday morning runs) is ordering 2 sparkling waters with a squeeze of lemon.

So what prompts people like Terry and Jake to make the choices that they do? What prompts us to make decisions that help or hinder us? Why do we sometimes feel like we are making progress one moment and the next, it seems like a slippery slope?

“Why can’t I seem to get a six pack/toned tummy no matter how many times I go to the gym?”

“Why can’t I stick to eating well?”

Sound Familiar?

It all comes down to what you value in your life. What means most to you and how much you are willing to do to fulfil this value.

Values steer us to a specific direction on where we want to be, how we would like to be and why it is important to us.

Someone once said to me “Gym goers are wasting their lives away, they aren’t living!”. The argument was that the gym junkie’s life revolves around the gym. They can’t head out on a Friday night and go on an alcoholic binge. They can’t eat anything they want. They need to set their alarms at 5am on weekday mornings to go to the gym.

But to label this as time wasted really depends on perspective.

The gym fanatic might value looking lean/toned. They might value feeling strong, healthy and confident in their appearance. This same gym fanatic will see the value in investing $30 in a bottle of fish oils, rather than a $30 bottle of wine. They might value waking up feeling fresh on a Saturday morning and going for run.

Values are integral part of how we perceive the world; they are the internal compass that guides us to make conscious decisions, decisions to whether something does or doesn’t suit us. Values influence the way we speak, our behaviours and also our social circle.

Values are what separate the office worker running on the treadmill from the fitness model standing on stage (who also happens to work behind the desk).

Define what you value.

If you want to be committed to a positive change in your health and fitness goals, a great way to start is to identify specifically what you value, what you specifically want and why you want it.

STEP 1 – Ask the right questions.

“What specifically do I want?”,”Why do I want it?” etc.

STEP 2 – Visualise it and own it.

Believe without a shadow of doubt that achieving this is possible. Start visualising that you have already achieved it. Think of this experience as creating your own movie/picture in your mind. Be in the moment and know deep inside that you will get there.

STEP 3 – Focus on what you want rather then what you don’t want.

The mind does not recognise negations. Negations such as don’t, won’t, can’t, not etc. For example, consider the statement ‘I don’t want to be fat’. The mind disregards ‘don’t’ and only focuses on the subject. The mind interprets it as ‘I want to be fat’.

Start choosing empowering statements of possibility rather than lack.

“I am getting stronger with each repetition”, “I am losing that weight” etc.

Be kind to yourself. Be positive!

Many people stare at their own reflection and only see their flaws, they see the weight they are not losing (especially in the areas that they want to lose most). Try focussing on the other areas of your body and notice the changes that are happening. Be kind to yourself and give yourself a pat on the back for each step forward.

What if exercising meant that you were going to be cured from heart disease? What if eating unprocessed and organic food was going to prolong your life if you had cancer? What if being positive living healthily was going to prevent you from having depression? How would you then act? What would you start doing differently?

When you value your health and specifically state what you want, then other factors such as being lean/toned, having more strength and energy, fitting into clothes perfectly and being confident in the way you look, just become by products of the journey.



April 3, 2013
by ASP Admin

We recently interviewed one of our long time ASP clients, Geoff Higham!

At 62 years old, Geoff has been exercising for over 40 years! He has spent countless hours in gyms in all his time training, but instead of tiring he is still training strong and maintaining a physique enviable of most 20 year olds!

Below we discuss Geoff’s experience with ASP compared to the many other fitness professionals and services he’s been exposed to over the years, as well as his secrets to remaining in such great shape!

When did you start training with ASP and how has ASP helped you?

“I started training with Ben over four years ago, before ASP was even created. Since then I’ve kept coming back to Ben and his team of ASP coaches to train and transform my body and lifestyle, they’ve completely changed my life!”

How is ASP different to other trainers, coaches and fitness services?

“Over the many years I’ve been exercising I’ve trained with a lot of different people, even before gyms and personal training especially became as popular as it is now. I’ve trained with trainers and coaches who know their technique and service they provide like the back of their hand, and some that don’t. But I can safely say that ASP is the best of the lot! I feel the burn and the effectiveness of every exercise during every session. I can then feel the changes to my body, and of course see them too. ASP trains me with completely different methods than any that I’ve worked with before. Ben’s also helped me to make my training, nutrition and motivation regime a lifestyle that I live now, instead of a fad fix that I try out for a while. I’m not ready to slow down, I’m the healthiest I’ve been! ASP has even inspired me to complete the course to become a PT myself, at 62

What’s included in your daily nutrition these days?

“Most of my meals will now include red meat or chicken, and vegetables, with nuts as snacks. Sometimes I’ll have juices or whole fruits too, but that’s only when I’m feeling lean – thanks ASP for that tip! I basically eat clean every meal, I’ll have some cheat meals on rare occasions but these “

Out of the supplements you take to support your training lifestyle, do you have a favourite?

“BCAAs! I take BCAAs (Branched-Chain Amino Acids) with every workout I do now, they help with my body’s response to training, make me stronger and not as sore after each session. They’re great!”

What other supplements are you taking?

“I take a multivitamin, and a post-workout BCAA/Amino complex to keep me lean, no carbs there! I also take ten omega-3 fish oil capsules a day, 5 in the morning, 5 at night. I love my supplements! “

Finally Geoff, what does ‘fitness’ now mean to you?

“ASP has definitely changed the way I think of fitness. I see fitness as a lifestyle now, not just exercise. Me being fit now means I sleep better, eat better, generally feel better. Fitness is not all about exercise!”

Geoff began his training journey with Australian Strength Performance at 67kg, reached a post-ASP transformation weight of 77-78kg, and now maintains a steady, lean and strong physique at 71kg.


March 28, 2013
by ASP Admin

Thought, action, reality and the power of visualisation.

Remember Aladdin, and the genie granting his three wishes? Imagine that you had the power to get an infinite amount of wishes granted. Imagine that you had the ability to start changing your life and achieving your career & health goals from today. Imagine a life of abundance, happiness and health.

The ability lies in the power of thought, the power of visualisation; a technique that can be used by anyone at anytime to achieve any desired goal.


Visualisation is the act of creating an image in your mind with a desired outcome. Just like a tape or a rehearsal before a play, the image is replayed over and over again in the mind’s eye, and rehearsed as if the desired outcome has already been accomplished.

The image/scene is replayed repeatedly in the minds eye involving:

  1. Sight: What do you see?
  2. Sound: What do you hear?
  3. Touch: How does it feel?
  4. Smell: What does it smell like?

The idea is to make the scenario as vivid as possible, almost like you are actually there experiencing it. In doing so, you tap into your subconscious mind to make an imprint of the outcome. This imprint results in the necessary thoughts/actions in your conscious mind to allow for the desired conclusion.


Think of your subconscious mind as a library of information, an infinite database of information and life experiences. Just like the operating system on a computer, it runs in the background while you are surfing the net, playing games, on Facebook or writing a document. The subconscious is active whether you are awake or asleep.

The transition between the subconscious and conscious mind can be related to driving a car. When you first learn how to drive a car, your conscious mind is focussed on your driving environment. You are aware of the sounds the engine makes when you step on the accelerator, when to change the gears, whether you are driving too close to the car ahead of you, you are extremely cautious of your environment.

As you gain more experience in driving, your subconscious mind takes over your driving ability. Your conscious mind is now focussed on where you need to go, which is the best route to take to avoid peak hour traffic and what radio station you enjoy listening to.

The subconscious mind governs the way we think, the way we act and the way we perceive the world. It is a force that we should learn to tap into on a regular basis.


In basketball, a player will run through in his mind the perfect shot. The feel of the ball in his hand as he flicks his wrist and makes a three point shot from the half court mark. In his mind, he hears the sound of the half time buzzer going off and the roar of the home crowd. The shot goes in the basket with a huge ‘swoosh’. The scene is replayed over and over again in his mind to train muscle memory, increase his confidence and accuracy in each of his shots.

In a study done on visualization in sports, a group of soviet athletes were split into four focus groups. Group 1 focussed 100% on physical training. Group 2 focussed 75% on physical training and 25% mental training. Group 3 focussed 50% physical training and 50% mental training. Group 4 focussed 25% on physical training and 75% on mental training. The group that focussed most on mental training came out on top.


Imagine that you are going for a job interview tomorrow, for a job that you really want. In your mind’s eye, you visualise walking into a brightly lit office looking your best, the interviewer greets you with a warm smile. You imagine the smell of the cups of coffee on the table as you perform your best sales pitch ever. The interview goes well with you feeling confident that you have gotten the job. The interviewer offers you a firm hand shake saying ‘welcome to the company’. You run through this scene over and over in your mind visualising the desired outcome. When the interview finally happens, you are confident and articulate during the whole process as if it was second nature to you.

Alternatively, on a cold and wintery night you visualise yourself at the beach. The sound of the waves, the feel of the soft sand on your feet. How perfect that white bikini fits you without you having a muffin top. The envious looks of other women around you thinking ‘wow I wish I looked like that!’ as you walk to the shoreline. It is this image that you play constantly in your mind as you contemplate whether you should go to the gym at 6:30am the following morning.


The more vivid and the more creative you can be with each visualisation, the better. The more you think or visualise about something, the more likely you are going to get it. Start thinking about what you really want and imagine yourself getting it, feeling a sense of accomplishment once you have attained it. In your mind, start each day in your mind visualising exactly how you would like it to be and guess what, it will unfold just the way it was meant to.



by ASP Admin

When it comes to weights training, the bench press has gained unrivalled popularity amongst other upper body exercises. For many, the pectoral muscle group remains the most, or sadly for some, only focused-on muscle group. However, despite our obsession with the bench press, many of us quickly hit plateaus in strength and pectoral development and are never able to reach that next level. Below are 5 powerful tips to help bust through your plateau and unleash your full benching potential.


What muscles you say? The rotator cuff muscles constitute four intricate stabilising muscles in the shoulder girdle. These muscles play a pivotal role in optimal shoulder movement and strength, but are often neglected at the expense of prioritising the much larger, and more visible deltoid muscles.

In most cases, the resulting imbalance is created by weak external rotators and disproportionately stronger deltoids and pectorals. This can lead to constant clicking in the shoulders, acute pains, impingement syndromes and muscle weakness, especially while performing a major pressing movement like the Bench press.

External rotation exercises like Cuban presses, cable external rotation exercises and Powell raises can effectively help to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles and increase your benching strength.

Performing these simple exercises at the end of your chest workout over the next four weeks will be sure to see you bump up the number of plates on that barbell.


Introducing a back-focused exercise between each of your bench press sets, such as a bent-over row, lat pull down or a chin-up can actually help to increase your bench-pressing strength. Research has shown that the antagonist pairing of exercises as such is not only a more time effective way of training but also a great way to boost your results. By working the antagonist muscles, we encourage optimal fiber recruitment of the stabilisers utilised within the exercise, and prime the primary muscles to lift more.

Simply speaking, training the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids and rear deltoids (the antagonist muscles) between sets of bench presses effectively increases the overall stability and strength of the pectorals and anterior deltoids (the primary/agonist muscles) for the proceeding set, thus allowing you to lift heavier in the bench press.


It’s important to regularly rotate between using dumbbells and barbells for several reasons. For one, dumbbells are a great way of evening out imbalances between both sides of the body. They also allow for a greater range of motion on the pectorals and anterior deltoids, hence increasing the recruitment of muscle fibers involved in the pressing motion.

By focusing solely on barbell work for an extended period, you will quickly hit a plateau as the body adapts to the same repetitive motion. Changing it up with dumbbells creates a new and different neurological stimulus for the brain, forcing it to see the exercise as a different movement pattern, and effectively breaking the existing plateau.

This process of readapting forces the muscles involved to recruit different and an increased number of muscle fibers for the task. Regular rotations between barbell and dumbbell work can thus help you to continually increase your benching strength.


You are only as strong as your weakest link. It is common to see people perform ‘half-presses’ in the gym, where a heavy weight is moved through an easier and shortened top range of motion. Yet, they fail to press the same weight once it gets to the bottom position nearing the chest. This is a result of the lack of muscle recruitment at that given range.

Muscle activation techniques can increase intra-muscular contraction of muscle fibers within that position. Techniques such as holding a one or two second pause at the bottom position of the bench press or performing quarter reps with a lighter weight before pressing it up. In the long run, this translates to increased strength in the weakened range, and hence more overall strength in the bench press.


The lack of adequate rest on a muscle group often leads to incomplete repair and the loss of strength. After a big session focusing on the pectorals and triceps, individuals often continue to train ‘other’ muscles like the deltoids in the following days.

What many of these people fail to realise is that these smaller muscle groups are also involved in the bench press, and must be given adequate recovery before they hit the bench again.

It is therefore important to plan your exercise splits carefully to prevent too much overlap of muscle groups. Adequate rest on the muscles used in the bench press will definitely see your bench improve by the next session. So from warming the bench to stacking the plates, be sure to follow these sure fire tips and watch your bench press strength increase like never before!


Jan 21, 2016
by ASP Admin

Here is the first addition to our ‘RECIPES’ section! One of our enthusiastic and very talented clients Cara Jelinic delivers a delicious pesto stuffed chicken breast recipe that combines fresh, natural ingredients to keep you lean, healthy and satisfied!

Like us on Facebook here and stay tuned for more healthy recipes that are on their way.



  • 1 to 1 and a half cups basil leaves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese or cottage cheese
  • ¼ cup olive oil


  • 3 tomatoes chopped
  • 1 small onion or half a large onion chopped finely
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped


  • 2 x 150gm or more chicken breast
  • Fresh rocket for serving

*Use organic ingredients where possible.*


  1. Turn oven on to 200 degrees Celsius (fan forced)
  2. Toast pine nuts on stove till slightly golden
  3. Place basil, garlic, pine nuts, salt & pepper in a food processor and pulse until basil is chopped. Turn on high and slowly add olive oil. Pour into bowl and mix in the cheese. Put aside.
  4. With a knife, slit each chicken breast lengthways to form a large pocket. Spoon half the pesto mixture into the each chicken breast. Place each chicken breast onto a piece of pre-cut baking paper and wrap until firmly sealed. Place both onto an ovenproof tray (folds underneath) and place on middle shelf of oven. Bake for 30 minutes.
  5. While the chicken is in the oven, place onion and butter in a saucepan and sauté until soft. Add the tomatoes, garlic, salt pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Prepare both plates by placing
  7. Put a small handful of rocket in the middle. Place the chicken breast on top of the rocket and spoon the sauce over the chicken.
  8. Serve immediately

*Serves 2*


December 12, 2012
by ASP Admin

Diets are the latest trend in our weight conscious society. With everything from shakes and calories, restrictive plans to pills and celebrity fads, diets aim to make you slimmer, healthier and happier. Yet a ‘Die-It’ as the name suggest, appears to be merely a painful means to an end rather than a sustainable and satisfying solution.

Recent statistics have shown that while Australians spend up to one million dollars per day on dieting products, they are likely to regain one to two thirds of their lost weight within the year, and almost, if not all of the lost weight within five years. The question then remains, why are diets so ineffective? Here are some tips on making a diet more enjoyable and sustainable for you.


Being on a ‘die-it’ often carries an underlying belief (and often a desperate wish!) that your action is merely short term. This not only results in extreme and often harmful eating habits such as “crash-dieting”, but also ”diet-clock watching” – where an individual develops an unhealthy focus on “letting loose” at the end of the suppressed diet rather than focusing on the ultimate goal of health and wellbeing.

As such, it is common to see people reward themselves with comfort foods once they can justify that the dieting period is over. Such actions can lea to guilt and emotional overeating, causing the individual to ‘rebound’ or ‘relapse’ in an extreme way, and put on more weight than when they first started the diet.

On the other hand, by embracing your new nutritional plan as a lifestyle change, you are consciously accepting the positive change in your eating habits to be a long-term action that will be part of everyday living. This paradigm shift is not only effective in eliminating the guilt and need to emotionally eat, but also in maintaining focus on overall health and wellbeing in the long run.


While there are so many diets in the market, not every one will suit you. What can make someone lose fat fast can in fact help you stack on the kilos and vice versa. It is important then to consider and choose a diet that will support your individual body needs. A nutritionist or qualified Biosignature Practitioner would be able to assist you. When you’re on a nutrition plan that supports optimal health, you will find that not only does the fat melt off,

but you feel more energised, sleep better, are able to think more clearly, and also naturally start to reject the comfort food you were previously on.


Small and steady changes are easy to introduce, remember and implement. It is how good habits are formed and built upon. For example, if you normally rush off to work with only a coffee in the morning, then having a small handful of nuts or an egg in the morning can be a great way of introducing breakfast as a habit. Once the action of eating something is cultivated, then you can look at better alternatives for the meal.


A sudden removal of a regular food from your routine can cause a void and lead to cravings and constant thoughts about the removed food. Choosing to substitute the food for a similar but healthier option is a more gradual, but effective way of removing that undesired food habit. For example, if you have a habit of drinking a couple of bottles of beer or a can of sugary soft drink every night, start substituting this with a glass of iced-soda water that will still leave you quenched and refreshed, but in a better state. is text.


Whoever said that healthy food had to be bland, tasteless and dull? One of the biggest problems in sustaining a diet is the lack of taste and variety in the food. This has the effect of deterring people from their new eating regimes. Be creative in introducing spices and herbs to flavor your foods. You’ll be surprised just how good healthy foods can taste!


Not planning your meals in advance can lead to bad choices in foods especially when you are hungry. When you plan in advance (e.g. stocking up your pantry with nuts rather than chocolates) or prepare healthy ready-to-go meals or snacks beforehand, you not only plan what nutrition you will be consuming but also have less of a tendency to look for other less optimal choices when hunger strikes you.


November 16, 2012
by ASP Admin

Not seeing results? Hit a plateau? Wondering why your workouts haven’t worked for you? It’s always frustrating when you’ve invested your precious time, effort and not to mention money into your workouts, only to find out that your weight, physique, strength or fitness has simply hit a plateau. If you’re stuck in this rut then you already know that something you’re doing just isn’t working. Perhaps it’s time to start looking at some of your workout habits and see if they are really beneficial for you or counterproductive instead.

Get ready for a reality check.

Here we debunk some common workout myths to help you unleash the real hercules (or aphrodite) inside of you!


Surely you have come across the gym member who swears by having a banana or protein bar before, or during a workout, because that allows them to push harder, as the sugar converts into energy. In my opinion, that’s all in their mind – a placebo so to speak.

Truth is, for sugars to be converted into energy, sufficient time must be allowed for digestion of the food before it can be transported by the blood to the mitochondria (energy centers of the cell) to be used as fuel. In an average individual, digestion alone can take as long as 4 hours, depending on the efficiency of his/her digestive system. Moreover, while you’re working out, blood will be instinctively directed to the muscles to help with contraction and nutrient supply. The digestive system then becomes a secondary priority, and the food consumed tends to sit in the gut partially digested.

Large intake of sugar pre-workout also brings about an associated increase in insulin (the storage hormone) and a drop in cortisol (the stress hormone). While this may be seen as a positive response, cortisol actually plays an important part in the workout. It acts as an adrenaline to give us the “oomph” we need to push harder. In reality, the introduction of carbs pre-workout will only suppress our ability to train to our limits.


There is no doubt that with convenience and pretty packaging on the top of their priority list, people rush to buy pre-made shakes sold at health food counters – all at the price of feeding their bodies with a low grade protein. Protein oxidises and denatures within an hour of being emulsified in water or milk.Due to protein’s unstable nature, manufacturers often add sodium based stabilisers (like sodium benzoate) to prolong the protein’s stability. Such stabilisers have been linked to health problems such as disruptions in mitochondrial functioning (simply speaking, this makes you fat!), gut sensitivities as well as liver and DNA damage. If the protein shake is milk based (this constitutes 90% of premade shakes on the shelf), then more problems arise. Milk can often cause bloating to those who are lactose intolerant, and furthermore, cannot be digested quickly enough to facilitate the window of opportunity straight after a workout.

My suggestion is to use a high quality whey isolate powder, preferably from organic grass-fed cows or New Zealand cows. Mix the powder with water only and consume it immediately after workout to maximise the protein’s properties and the body’s post-workout anabolic window.


Caffeine is a great pre-workout stimulant used to raise cortisol and adrenaline levels during a workout. It also increases the body’s pain threshold and maximal strength, thus allowing the person to work harder for longer.

The main post-workout objective however, should be aimed at reducing cortisol for an anti-catabolic (preventing muscle breakdown) response as well as increasing testosterone and insulin for an anabolic (muscle building) response. This maximises the body’s ability to build muscle. By having a coffee straight after the workout, stress levels will continue to be elevated for extended periods. This encourages muscle breakdown and increases fat storage around the abdominal region. So if you’re wondering why that six pack is still in hiding, post-workout caffeine might just be your answer.


This statement would represent some of the most regular gym goers, and you probably see them more often than you would the trainers. I call them gym socialites, as you’ll see them chatting and resting more than they actually train!

Workouts exceeding an hour per session can be highly counterproductive to your efforts. It’s best to keep your training to no more than an hour (excluding warm-up). Here’s why – after 45 minutes into your workout, physiologically your body’s testosterone levels will start to decrease and there’s a corresponding increase in cortisol.

This unfavourable shift in the testosterone-cortisol ratio has a two-fold negative effect on the body:


  • is catabolic, converting the protein in muscle into glucose and glycogen (these products tend to be stored as fat around the gut)
  • is anti-anabolic, discouraging the body from using amino acids to form protein in muscle cells.


  • is the hormone that regulates muscle growth in the body, and its decrease means the body’s ability to build muscle also decreases accordingly.

Furthermore, with too much resting time in-between sets, you WILL lose both concentration and strength for the proceeding sets, as well as the desired training effect the overall workout is aimed at.


Here’s one that goes through every woman’s mind. It is a common misconception that any form of weights or resistance training will lead to an overnight explosion of muscle growth, leaving you with chunky thighs and hulk-like arms.

The good news, ladies, is that muscle simply isn’t that easy to gain unless you’re taking additional steroids or testosterone boosters. In reality, most women have up to 15 times less testosterone than men, making it much harder for a female to build muscle.

It is also important to understand that when you lift weights, your body undergoes additional physical stress. This causes micro tears in the muscle tissue, bringing about an inflammatory response. As a result, the specific area that has been worked tends to swell – this is only temporary ladies! Reparation of the muscle in the next few days will cause the inflammation to dissipate, and produce a tighter, toner muscle.

In addition, most women also tend to experience fluid retention (particularly in the lower half) in the first 4 to 6 weeks of doing weights regularly. This is a natural child-bearing mechanism that the female body undergoes – not that you have suddenly put on muscle or weight!. For women training past that initial period, you will find that this does not occur anymore. In fact, following the initial period, the fluid tends to drain away almost instantaneously overnight, leaving you feeling leaner and more defined.


Continuous jogging for 30 to 45 minutes, 3 to 5 times a week, is commonly perceived as the best way to increase athletic endurance and stamina. However, any athletic or fitness benefits associated with the same continuous aerobic exercise has been shown to plateau after just 6 weeks!

Additionally, continuous aerobic workouts have been found to impair athletic performance. For example, if you are an athlete who competes in a sport requiring speed and explosiveness, then continuous aerobic training can detrain your system, reducing both strength and power. Studies have shown that continuous lower body aerobic work decreases vertical leap and sprint times, thus making you slower and less dynamic. Furthermore, on a hormonal level, such aerobic training reduces the body’s testosterone/cortisol ratio, effectively decreasing your ability to gain lean muscle (see myth 4 on workout duration for more information about excess cortisol and its adverse effects).


Why is it that the most advertised fitness equipment always target your abs? You don’t see bicep or calf machines flying off the shelf, yet thousands of ab-swings, ab-kings and other ab-things are sold via infomercials all guaranteeing that 10 minutes of crunches a day will give you a lean six-pack. The reason is that abs are often the hardest muscle to achieve real success in, especially if you aren’t genetically gifted and born naturally lean and ripped.

What you have to understand firstly is that performing a specific exercise for a certain targeted area or muscle group does not make fat in that area simply vanish. As you burn more calories (doesn’t matter doing what, it can be doing crunches, weights or running) fat stores slowly burn up. However, you don’t have control over which fat stores are used up first. Adipose tissue (fatty tissue) distribution around the body is dependent on one’s genes and hormonal predisposition, so in order to reduce fat specifically (that’s right, Spot Reduce), you need to target the source – hormones. I use a technique called BioSignature Modulation which can specifically target fat loss in desired areas just by addressing the associated hormone(s) in question. Find out more about Biosignature in our Services section).

Secondly, the abdominals are fast-twitched muscles and grow with heavy loading through a full range of motion, so countless reps (or should I say half reps for those that do crunches) of ab work will increase only lactic build-up, but not contribute much to muscle growth.


A lot of people feel like they are working out more during an aerobic session, because their heart rate is kept high and sweat is continually produced. As such, aerobics often makes the workout feel more healthy and effective. However, it is a fact that continuous aerobic activity increases oxidation within the body, often leading to an excessive build-up of free radicals (especially if you are not consuming sufficient anti-oxidants). This leads to metabolic changes that have been found to accelerate aging! So really, by increasing your aerobic activity, you are forcing your body to get older.

If you are looking to increase your cardiovascular fitness, maintain your muscle and yet lose the fat, then stick with interval training. Interval training has been proven to increase the intensity of your workout, the calorie burning capacity of your body even after the workout ceases and improve both aerobic and anaerobic fitness. This means that you retain lean muscle whilst getting fit.


To prove this misconception, answer this question: Who typically has less body fat – a marathon runner or a 100m sprinter? If you picked marathon runner on the basis that they simply do more aerobic exercise, then you are mistaken. Sprinters, who hardly do any continuous aerobic exercises, on average have less body fat because of their high-intensity training which has been found to increase metabolism and calorie expenditure for as long as 24 to 48 hours after their workout!

Additionally, excessive aerobic exercise highly stresses and fatigues your adrenal glands, leading to symptoms such as tiredness, arthritis, depression and reduced concentration. Crucially, adrenal fatigue and stress also leads to hormonal imbalances, not only making it difficult for effective weight loss to occur, but could in fact increase body fat. This explains why you may be exercising regularly, yet unable to see much weight loss results!


October 24, 2012
by ASP Admin

Have you been slogging it out in the gym with little or no results? We are often led to believe that the amount of work and sweat we put in equates to the results we achieve. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case. Maximum effort alone with little or no variety in our workout routines can still lead to frustrating training plateaus that can be hard to break out of. Here are six tips that can get you out of that rut and achieving your goals more quickly:


The word ‘Period-ise’ simply means to group your training into distinct periods or phases. Each new phase can be dedicated to a particular training goal such as strength, hypertrophy (muscle-building) or fat-loss.

Generally speaking, it is best to change your training goals often, as that not only adds variety to your training but also encourages the recruitment of different types of muscle fibers. Research has shown that 70% of the population will adapt to a given training program with about six to eight repetitions of the same program. This usually equates to keeping your program for a maximum of 3 to 5 week periods before changing it up.


Varying the types of equipment used within training is important for both neuromuscular (the coordination between the brain and muscle) and muscular development. When we use the same type of grip, handle, bench angle or equipment over and over again, we are restricting our muscles to the same stimuli. While this leads to training plateaus and boredom, it is also a common cause of overuse injury, where the joint is strained through an overly repeated motion. By exposing our muscles to different types of equipment, we encourage the recruitment of a different proportion of fibers, as well as the creation of new patterns for movement and stability.


Tempo refers to the speed of the movement when performing a repetition. This is not a new concept and may be familiar those who already make an effort to perform their exercises at a well-controlled pace.

When executing a given exercise, we are putting load on the muscles involved until we finish the set. The tension created on those muscles is known

as ‘Time under Tension’ or T.U.T for short. By varying the T.U.T, we are able to produce a specific desired training effect such as muscular endurance, hypertrophy or power.

Compare a person who completes 10 bicep curls within 30 seconds and another who completes the same in 60 seconds. Where all other factors are constant, the length of time the bicep muscles is under tension is effectively doubled in the latter example.

With an increased T.U.T, the body is able to recruit more muscle fibers and cause more micro damage within the muscle, hence giving the body more opportunity for growth and recovery. What this means is, if you are not already monitoring the timing of your reps and sets, this could be an effective strategy for you to gain better results almost instantly.


These days, many people place more importance on the weight lifted or the number of repetitions performed than on actually performing a full range of motion with correct technique.

Moving through a full range of motion with each repetition ensures that a large proportion of muscular fibers are being utilised, contributing to better development of overall strength and muscular development of that muscle.

By performing an exercise over a limited range, the muscles targeted are only effective within that given range. Short ranges of motion contribute to an imbalance within the muscle, but also between the joint and the muscle itself, often leading to nerve impingements, muscular tightness and overuse injury. While there are specific types of training that encourage shorter ranges of motion, they are used for rehabilitation purposes or for specific periods of time.


This is such an important concept that is taken too lightly by so many. How many individuals do you know who are impacted by work stress and/or family stressors and yet still opt to channel what little energy they have left into long bouts of vigorous training?

While the gym can sometimes be used quite effectively as a source of stress relief, overtraining is in itself a major physical stress on the body. Overtrained individuals often find themselves getting weaker, losing weight, sustaining more injuries and experiencing fluctuations in appetite. Unfortunately when it comes to stress, the body’s response is simply to increase its release of cortisol (the stress hormone). On an ongoing basis (i.e, where the stressors are continuous) this especially leave. This leads to the breakdown of muscle and encourages fat storage around the front of the belly .

The key here is to train smart, keeping training times to no longer than 45 minutes after warm-up, and taking at least a week off after 12 weeks of consistent training.

Resting can sometimes mean staying away from a particular exercise, especially if you have been excessively using it. Renowned Strength Coach and regular visitor to us in Melbourne, Charles Poliquin, suggests a ‘Jachère’ style of training can be crucial for growth.

For example, if you have been continuously performing bench presses for the last 6 months in every chest workout, try staying off the bench for up to 12 weeks. This does not mean staying off chest workouts, but substituting your bench presses for a dumbbell chest workout. When you return to the bench 3 months later, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with your increase in strength.


For the individual that has a little more time on their hands, sometimes training twice a day can really help boost results. For example, performing a more demanding strength training at the start of the day and a lighter circuit session in the evening. While such a training regime is a great plateau buster, it must be monitored carefully to prevent overtraining and fatigue, as that can be counterproductive to your gains. The main considerations when training twice a day are optimal nutrition and sufficient recovery, ensuring a minimum of 6 hours of rest between workouts.

Remember – Training hard is good, but training smart is better! Enjoy!


September 15, 2012
by ASP Admin

Following my article Being Awake to the Problems of Losing Sleep many readers showed a keen interest in what I might have to recommend as remedies for improving sleep. So here’s my take on natural sleep solutions – A useful list of tips we all should know about foods, supplements and lifestyle habits in gaining a better night’s sleep.


Foods high in Tryptophan
(an amino acid) such as turkey, fish, dairy, eggs, bananas, figs, pineapples can make a good and relaxing evening meal. This is because tryptophan is involved in the production of serotonin, a feel good hormone that also helps induce drowsiness. However, try to refrain from eating big meals within 2 hours of your bed time, as this not only hinders growth hormone production but can disrupt the quality of sleep.

Refrain from eating or drinking stimulants
(things that are likely to increase heart rate and dehydrate you) such as caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and foods high in fat or salt close to bedtime. Caffeine from percolated coffee for example, has a half-life of 8 hours, meaning its effects on the adrenal system will last a whole eight hours! So ensure your last cup of coffee for the day is no later than 2:00- 3:00 pm in the afternoon, otherwise you’ll probably be in for a restless night.

Herbal Teas
are known for calming the adrenal system after a stressful day, though sometimes it may take up to 2 weeks of nightly use for the person’s system to feel and enjoy the tea’s full benefits. The most popular sleep-inducing herb is Valerian (Valeriana officinalis), an ancient remedy for insomnia. Common teas like Tulsi and Chamomile are also known to work a treat by reducing cortisol (a stress hormone). Other herbs include Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) from North America, which acts upon and calms the nervous system, and Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), recognised by European herbalists to aid digestion and induce sleep.


is a cheap yet effective supplement that will help with reducing cortisol, induce calm and improve sleep patterns. For those that find pills hard to swallow, magnesium creams are also highly effective as they get absorb into the skin and can act rapidly to give the same advantages.

is another helpful supplement. The Poliquin products range we stock in Melbourne include a product called Uber inositol. When taken just before bed, this supplement helps induce deep sleep by balancing out all neurotransmitter imbalances, including raising serotonin levels to help with sleep, and decreasing adrenaline levels.

Grapeseed Extract
is a powerful antioxidant 20 times more potent than vitamin E. If you are waking up between 1am and 3 am constantly, it can be an indication that your lung meridian (an energy centre of your body) is disrupted due to a lack of antioxidants. Regular doses of grapeseed extract often does the trick to help this sleep bump.

Liver Support Supplements
like the P1P2 balance from Poliquin that we have available in Melbourne, which can help improve the quality of sleep, especially if you find yourself frequently waking between 3am-5am. Often our liver has to work overtime to detoxify numerous toxins from our systems and this strain can affect sleep quality.

Phosphatidyl Serine (PS)
works to reduce stress and high levels of adrenaline within the system, effectively calming a person down. When used before bed, PS is great for inducing deep sleep.


such as a walking, jogging or working out in the gym produces endorphins – chemicals which help you feel good and improve sleep. However, performing vigorous exercises close to bedtime can overly increase adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones), and be counterproductive to good sleep. As such, exercises should be done at least two hours before bedtime and not immediately before.
Light and Muscle Relaxing Exercises
like yoga, which can also help release physical and mental tension without overstimulating the body. Here’s a simple relaxation technique to be done in the “Savasana Position” (Lie flat on your back with a pillow under your upper body so that your shoulders are slightly elevated; this makes breathing easier). In this position, mentally focus on relaxing individual muscles in your body, starting from each toe, up your calves and thighs, through your hips, lower back, abs, chest, shoulders and neck. Focus on relaxing the muscles on your face and feel your eyeballs gently relax down into the eye sockets. Relax the temples and forehead, then the bridge of the nose, your cheeks and jaw muscles. Feel the connection between the ear passages and the jaws, and relax them. Allow your tongue to rest on the lower palate and for your relaxed mouth to be slightly parted. The key here is to focus on deep and effortless breathing. You’ll probably find yourself concentrating a little harder on the steps to do this initially, but constant


Stay Relaxed and Positive
when you cannot get to sleep. As rhetorical as this might sound, frustration or anger will only agitate you and tense your muscles up. Adopt a positive mindset and know that even if your mind can’t completely shut down, the fact that your body is in a restful position is already aiding muscle and tension recovery. Drowsiness often occurs in 30-45 min waves. If you happen to miss a wave, don’t get restless, simply relax your mind and body in time for the next wave.

Prayer or Journaling
can be an effective method for ‘getting stuff off your chest’. Speaking, thinking or writing out the day’s highs and lows, triumphs and anxieties can be an effective way to release these built up emotions. It may also help organise your thoughts and rationalise away any unnecessary worry or tension. One great technique I’ve learnt from Strength Coach Charles Poliquin recommended to many of our clients in Melbourne is to use a grateful log.
Here’s how it works: Before going to bed, get a pen (not a computer!) and write down at least 10 different things you are grateful for within the day. You could simply begin with: “I am grateful for…”.
As New Age as it might sound, this practice is very calming for the mind and helps you appreciate the world in a positive light before falling asleep. I have found this to ease all my stressed clients, prevent their minds from racing all night, and enrich the quality of their sleep significantly.


Try to Rid Your Bedroom of Electronic Distractions
such as televisions, laptops and phones. Apart from the obvious noise and lights disturbances, these devices also emit radiation that has had been scientifically shown to interfere with your sleep patterns.

Needing an Alarm Clock is NO Excuse to Use Your Phone
The best option would be a simple battery operated analogue clock. However for those that insist on having digital bed side clock, ensure that your clock has red numbers, since blue and green colours used on the digital clock stimulates the brain.

Sleep in a Cave!
Closing all curtains and blinds to have complete darkness encourages your body to produce more melatonin and to induce drowsiness. If you’re not able to get complete darkness in the room, use a sleep mask.


Avoid High Adrenaline Activities Before Bed
Adrenaline-fuelled activities are typically thought of as including strenuous exercise and daredevil stunts. However, what we consider relaxing, such as watching television or chatting online will also raise adrenaline and decrease melatonin production, thus disrupting your sleeping patterns. If you do have to watch television, make sure you choose an appropriate genre such as a relaxing comedy and not a thriller or horror flick.

How About SEX?
Is that too high an adrenaline activity to avoid before bed? Research shows that although sexual activity results in increased heart rate and adrenaline, it also helps us release a cocktail of brain chemicals and hormones, including prolactin, norepinephrine, serotonin, oxytocin, vasopressin and nitric oxide (NO). These chemicals are strongly linked to the sensations of drowsiness and relaxation, as well as a reduction in stress levels – so sex can be a great help when trying to sleep.

Establish a Regular Sleeping Pattern
by going to bed the same time each night. This sets up your “body clock” so that you are more likely to feel tired at the same time every night. Research has found that ideal time for sleep is between 10pm and 6 am in the morning, where the first 4 hours are crucial for the physical recuperation and the next 4 hours, from 2-6am are for mental/psychogenic repair.

Refrain from doing “Daytime” Activities
whilst lying in your bed. (e.g. watching TV, working, studying, etc) Doing so gets your body used to being awake whilst lying down in bed and makes it harder for it to recognise and abide by sleeping patterns.


September 4, 2012
by ASP Admin

It is estimated that adults in modern western societies now sleep one and a half hours less on average than they did a century ago. Statistically, that averages to less than 7 hours of sleep a night, but in reality, only a portion of those hours can truly be accounted for as deep, sound sleep. So why is it that despite working harder, longer and faster, so many of us are finding it increasingly difficult to fall asleep at night, experiencing poor sleep, and then wake up exhausted and frustrated?

For some, the problem lies in taking work back home to complete, often resulting in bedtime anxiety and restlessness. Others are unable to get a good night’s rest due to sleep disorders (e.g. sleep apnea or insomnia), chronic pain, medications or other health conditions.

Amongst the younger crowd however, the chronic lack of sleep tends to revolve around socialising, media and electronic devices – and often all at once. Using laptops and computers for movies, games, emails and social net-working, as well as mobile texting and calls are all common pre-sleep distractions. In fact, studies have shown that checking and replying to emails, or reading up the latest gossip on social network sites just before bed has the same effect on the excitatory system as drinking a double espresso! This effectively heightens brain activity and heart rate, making the individual restless just before bed and unable to drift into a deep sleep. Furthermore, prolonged exposure to the lights from a television set, mobile phone or a laptop (which in reality flashes at high speeds too fast for the naked eye to conceive) is intense enough to discourage any production of melatonin – a chemical in the brain that is released upon sensing darkness and induces a state of drowsiness.

Now burdened with a lack of sleep, we proceed to face our tasks for the new day, only to find that we’re less astute, grumpier and probably spending too much time staring at the added wrinkles on our face and droopy eye bags that weren’t there the day before. It’s obvious that sleep deprivation impacts us on both a mental and physical level, and when prolonged, can cause detrimental health consequences.


This topic remains one of the most widely researched areas of psychology and medicine. It is commonly accepted that though the brain may be able to compensate for a lack of sleep over a short period of time, its function undoubtedly decreases over prolonged periods of sleep deprivation.

Studies have shown that a lack of sleep impairs the brain’s ability to exhibit the appropriate emotions in a given situation, often resulting in irrational outburst or frustration. Without sufficient sleep, the receptors of our brains’ neurotransmitters are also unable to regain sensitivity. This causes lower production levels of monoamines – chemicals in our brain which are vital to regulating our moods and concentration. As such, a sleep deprived person will commonly experience increased moodiness, irritability and stress throughout the day. Additionally, sleep deprivation also impairs our attention and working memory, causing concentration lapses in simple routines – even those that we have practiced countless times over. The consequences of this can be trivial, such as forgetting to bring a pen to class, but can also be fatal, such as losing focus whilst driving.

In the long run, prolonged sleep deprivation has been found to disrupt the neurotransmitter balances in the brain, leading to states of depression and anxiety (which has been directly linked to an increase in suicide rate), as well as to the development of serious mental illnesses such as psychosis and bipolar disorder.


Not only does the lack of sleep disrupt the neurotransmitter balance in the brain, it also adversely impacts one’s hormonal system. Given that sleep is the body’s time to physiologically rest and recover, the lack of it induces a high state of stress within the system.

The production of cortisol, the stress hormone, causes the breakdown of amino acids (protein) from the muscles in the extremities like the legs and arms, and feeds it to the gut where it is stored as fat (that’s right, the lack of sleep will involuntarily make you fatter!). Cortisol also depresses the production of growth hormone and testosterone (both necessary for maintaining muscle mass and keeping one youthful), weakens the immune system and makes a person more insulin resistant (and thus increasing their chances of metabolic syndrome, diabetes and major fat gain). Furthermore, Studies in the U. S. have shown that when there is an onset of stress, there is a high tendency for people to emotionally eat (especially sweets), as this can temporarily produce a serotonin (‘feel good’ hormone) high, leading to weight gain and obesity – an epidemic that has never been so relevant as in modern society. Other long term effects also include high blood pressure, heart failure and stroke.

In athletes, sleep deprivation has been extensively studied in the context of motor skills and reaction ability, as measured via “Psychomotor Vigilance Tasks” (PVTs). These include areas of mental focus, reaction times and skill set – all of which have proven to be impaired when the athlete lacks sleep.

Sleep deprivation following a heavy training session also slows down the replenishment of glycogen in the muscles overnight, as well as growth hormone production. This has shown to disrupt optimal muscle repair processes and increase DOMs (delayed onset of muscle soreness). That’s not all. The body will also respond to the lack of rest by suppressing muscle building, and instead use up existing muscle stores to fuel low energy levels – a highly catabolic process! Additionally, testosterone (the primary muscle building hormone) and energy levels are likely to be decreased, thus affecting overall strength and performance in version a before feel the next training session.


August 13, 2012
by ASP Admin

It is widely accepted that when it comes to fashion, sophistication and a touch of class, no one says it better than the French. Yet in more recent times, it is their rather controversial diet that has stolen the limelight. From buttery croissants and full fat yoghurts at breakfast to cheeses and confit of duck at lunch accompanied by robust red wines, the French diet is rich in flavour, calorie dense and great at getting you into shape. Celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Gisele Bundchen have both used this diet to regain their amazing figures after childbirth.

Here are 5 great tips on how living la manière Française (the French way) keeps you slim, healthy and beautiful.


The French Diet is all about maintaining a balanced lifestyle rather than entertaining a quick fix. In France, people make an effort to incorporate regular meals into their busy schedules; with breakfast, lunch and dinner tending to be the norm. By having fixed times for meals, you not only promote an effective metabolic rate (how much energy is being used up through the day), but also ensure steady and consistent energy levels throughout the day.


The French people are food connoisseurs in their own right. Eating is regarded as a luxury and every mouthful is savoured, enjoyed and celebrated by their palates. By taking time to enjoy each meal, you encourage better digestion, decrease stress and get more satisfaction out of smaller food portions.

In contrast, wolfing down your meals often leads to eating more as it takes an average of 15 minutes for your brain to get the message that your stomach is full. In addition, a large food intake at any one time is accompanied by a steep rise in insulin levels (a storage hormone) and results in fat being deposited directly around the love handle region. Eating slowly is thus a great way to appreciate flavour, eliminate unnecessary calories and reduce your waistline.



The French are big advocates of choosing quality foods over quantity. Fast foods and packaged foods are uncommon, and the French will go to great lengths to ensure that their foods are prepared with the freshest ingredients and the best locally farmed produce. Apart from enhancing the flavours in foods, fresh locally farmed produce also mean fewer pesticides, fewer artificial chemicals and more naturally occurring nutrients for the body.


Organic Butter over Margarine
Staple French cuisine, with the likes of croissants and patès are known to contain copious amount of butter. Yes, it’s true that butter is a saturated fat, but more importantly it is also true that many of our body systems (such as the hormonal and immune system) and cells depend on saturated fat for survival and proper functioning. High-quality butter from good organic sources provides natural fats needed by the body; fats that are low in toxins, high in vitamins, trace minerals and natural antioxidants. When used in place of margarine, (a hydrogenated fat whose molecules resembles plastic), butter has scientifically shown to better heart health and reduce the appearance of cellulite in women.

Choose a Full Fat Yoghurt
Yoghurts constitute a huge part in French diets, especially during breakfast, and its benefits are plenty. A high quality naturally-produced yogurt contains milk fats and proteins, enzymes, vitamins and live cultures for good digestive health. The fat in the yogurt plays a crucial role in facilitating the body’s absorption of the milk calcium, as well as providing the body with all the nutrients as nature intended. This allows for satiety, and less cravings for sweets. The live cultures in yoghurt also aid the intestinal tract in fighting off bad bacteria, breaking down lactose (milk sugar) and creating an optimal environment for digestion.

Have up to 2 glasses of Red Wine a Day
Wine is an integral part of the French lifestyle. From socialising to dining, the French never fail to be seen with a glass of wine in hand. Wines, especially red wines, are high in minerals, antioxidants and contain a special compound called resveratrol, that is great in maintaining heart and arterial health, elevating testosterone levels (this helps to maintain lean tone muscle), keeps a person youthful and sustains longevity.

Keep Well-Hydrated with Water
The French always make an effort to drink lots of water through the day. Water is not only necessary to life, but being well-hydrated can also help speed up your metabolism and weight loss, boost skin rejuvenation and maintain a youthful, more radiant complexion


The French people understand the benefits of regular exercise. In fact, they love walking everywhere. From the grocer to going to work, the French walk because they enjoy it, not just for the sole reason of keeping fit. Learning to enjoy activity is a great way to stay motivated, maintain your health and sustain results.

In fact, a recent study found that people who exercised for weight-loss or toning up spent about 40% less time exercising than those who exercises for reasons beyond dropping weight such as: reducing stress, spending time with friends, or to increase their well-being.


July 2, 2012
by ASP Admin

As a strength coach, one of the most frequently asked questions by gym goers and athletes alike is: “what supplements should I be taking before and after my workout?”

This idea of workout specific nutrition though popularised by the commercialisation of protein shakes (cleverly endorsed by sports stars and bodybuilders), is not a novel concept. As early as 1940, whey protein has been used specifically as a workout aid to enhance muscle growth in athletes, and by the early 1980s, peri-workout nutrition had evolved to become a precise science adopted by top coaches such as Charles Poliquin to improve athletic performance.

However, while the benefits of workout specific nutrition are well documented, how well a person responds to a given supplement is dependent on numerous factors ranging from their training age, type of training performed to their individual genotype. Furthermore, it is my firm belief that one’s workout nutrition is only worth their workout invested. Simply speaking, a workout cocktail will not offer maximal benefits should the workout not be carried out properly.

Keeping this in mind, here are some supplements I have found to be universally helpful to anyone wanting to push harder and recover faster:


Caffeine – is a great stimulant that is best taken 45 minutes before the workout. Research has shown caffeine to enhance mood, increase adrenaline levels, increase maximal strength and decrease one’s perception of pain (Now, that’s one great way to push harder!)

What you also ought to know is that contrary to popular belief, espressos contain little or no caffeine, given that the caffeine cannot be effectively extracted from the brief amount of time boiling water runs through it. Instead if you want caffeine from a coffee fix, use a percolated coffee, or alternatively, a caffeine supplement like Java Stim from the Poliquin range that we stock in Melbourne will give you that edge.

Beta-Alanine – is another good pre workout supplement. It is an amino acid that increases strength and power output as well as delays muscular fatigue during training. A good dose of this supplement will give you a distinctive tingle across the face, chest and arms.

L-Carnitine – works within the mitochondria (energy producing centres of the cell) to burn fat, as well as increases the number and sensitivity of androgen receptor sites. Simply speaking, its purpose is to shred fat while increasing testosterone uptake during training – a combination that will get you leaner and stronger.

Alpha-GPC – (Alpha-Glycerylphosphorylcholine) serves to increase maximal strength by up to 7% pre-workout. It also Increases growth hormone production for muscle growth and regenerates the pituitary gland.


BCAAs – branched chain amino acids are a pre-requisite for individuals looking to get the best results from their workouts. Comprising of 3 amino acids: Leucine, Isosleucine and Valine, this supplement provides the main source of fuel for muscular contractions, aids recovery, decreases visceral fat and increases the testosterone to cortisol ratio while working out. Strength Coach Charles Poliquin recommends a dosage between 20 -40 grams of BCAAs during a workout for optimal results (In fact, he even goes as far as saying one’s workout efforts will be futile should BCAAs not be consumed!).

Lysine – is an essential amino acid (one that the body cannot naturally produce, and needs to be sourced from foods or supplements) that tends to get depleted during a workout. Research has shown that supplementing with 3-5 grams of lysine thoughout enables the body to maintain optimal conditions for carnitine to function, helps muscle recovery and promotes calcium absorption for stronger bones, tendons and cartilage.


As soon as the workout is complete (which ideally should last between 40 minutes and an hour tops for most individuals), aim to consume your post workout nutrition so as to optimise that window of recovery.

High Quality Whey – isolate/hydrolysate (provided you are not lactose intolerant) is abundant in BCAAs and protein for recovery and has the added benefit of being highly insulogenic , i.e., spikes insulin levels post-workout. This works two-fold: to decreases cortisol (a primary stress hormone that is catabolic) and insulin being a highly anabolic hormone, encourages muscle growth. For my athletes, I normally recommend a serving of 0.6 g of protein to 1 kg body weight.

Magnesium – is a cheap method used to decrease cortisol after a workout. This in turn can help to increase testosterone levels post workout to optimise muscle growth. Another alternative is to take 800mg of Phosphatidyl Serine.
(Check out Charles poliquin’s Blog at www.strengthsensei.com for more information on the benefits of Phosphatidyl Serine post-workout)

Vitamin E – (Specifically gamma-tocopherol) works synergistically with essential fatty acids to protect muscle from oxidative damage which may be created during the workout.

‘Red Juice’
such as pomegranate or cherry juice, can help with providing antioxidants for cellular damage and sugars to create an anabolic environment for recovery.

Simple Carbohydrates – like dextrose powders should be consumed by athletes who are “carb worthy” (in the standards of Charles Poliquin, less than 10% body fat!). Simple sugars increase post workout insulin levels, creating a highly anabolic environment for muscle growth. Furthermore, adding protein to carbs post workout helps to increase protein synthesis up to 31% and glycogen synthesis up to 36%! The recommended amount is 2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight (Again, this is dependent on factors like training volume – The more reps, the higher the need for sugars post-workout). Products likeQuadricarb from the Poliquin Range offers 4 different types of simple sugars in one hit that facilitates both a rapid and continuous uptake of sugars into muscles following the workout.


June 12, 2012
by ASP Admin

I once heard legendary strength coach Charles Poliquin say that if our cells, tissues and organ systems were like the pages of a book, then Omega-3s would be the spine that bound these pages together. Essentially speaking, Omega-3’s constitute the fundamental building blocks that our body requires for optimal function and survival.

Omega-3 can be derived in two main forms: Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), commonly sourced from small cold water fish such as sardines and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) from, larger fish like salmon. However, despite the ‘acid’ terminology given to it, Omega-3s (and it’s less famous counterpart Omega-6) are actually forms of polyunsaturated fat. That’s right, it is a FAT!

Omega-3 and Omega-6 are both essential in our diets because they cannot be self-generated by the body but instead need to be externally sourced from the foods we consume. Over the centuries of human evolution, our feeding habits have seen our DNA built upon a 1:1 ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 – an optimal proportion for cellular function and overall health. This remained the case even up till the early 1900s where natives were living off a Paleolitic diet. For more information on the Paleolitic Diet, see our article The Paleo Diet – Stone Age Nutrition or Fad?

However, in the past hundred years or so, modern western diets have changed to include more processed and pre-prepared foods, distorting our Omega-3 to Omega-6 consumption to a staggering 1:20 ratio! One main reason for this is the introduction of seeming ‘healthy’ plant oils like peanut oil, corn oil and sunflower oil which are high in Omega-6 and have become a complication which is a staple for numerous households. At the same time, our diet has neglected important sources of Omega-3 such as fish and seafood, most likely due to cheaper and more convenient alternatives. Furthermore, even our cheaper meat alternatives like beef are now disproportionately higher in Omega 6 because these animals are now mainly grain fed (a cheaper alternative which contains more Omega-6) rather than grass fed (which is high in Omega-3).


Whilst Omega-6 remains essential to the human body for growth and general maintenance of health and brain cells, a high Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio can lead to a thickening of the blood as well as cardio-vascular problems such as blood clots, blocked arteries and heart failure. It may also aggravate autoimmune and inflammatory diseases such as arthritis as well as promoting obesity, high insulin and blood sugar levels.

On the other hand, the health benefits associated with a diet higher in Omega-3 has been well documented. This was first discovered by scientists in the 1970s researching a particular tribe in Greenland who ate large amounts of fatty fish and seafood, yet displayed no signs of heart disease. It supported the findings that Omega-3s reduced the risks of coronary heart disease as well as triglycerides and atherosclerosis. Further evidence also showed that Omega-3s improve blood flow circulation and prevent plaque build-up in arterial walls.

In addition to the numerous cardio-vascular benefits, Omega-3s have been associated with other positive side effects:

Weight Loss – A high intake of Omega-3s in obese individuals has been shown to promote fat loss and increases in their metabolism.

Insulin Sensitivity – Research has found that Omega-3s improve the insulin sensitivity of cells. This increases the body’s efficiency in storing glucose as glycogen within the muscles as opposed to storing it as fatty tissue – in other words, this keeps you lean.

Reduces Stress – Omega-3s have been found to decrease cellular stress and disruption (this is a precursor for inflammation and numerous modern diseases), as well as contributing to restoring cellular integrity.

Reduced Cancer Risks – Several studies have found a possible link between Omega-3s and a reduced likelihood of cancer (especially breast, colon, and prostate cancers). There is also evidence that Omega-3s may benefit existing cancer patients by improving appetite and energy levels, as well as retaining muscle mass.

Immune Function – It has been found that particularly with infants and children, Omega-3s improve immune function maturation.

Healthy Brain Function – An increased intake of Omega-3’s (and carnitine) during pregnancy have shown to produce children with higher IQs. High Omega-3s dosages have also helped improve learning disabilities and cognitive disorders in kids, such as ADHD (attention deficient disorder). There is also recent evidence that Omega-3s impede the progression of psychotic and neurological disorders such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Sources of Omega-3 – Good sources of Omega-3 come mainly from Seafood such as oysters, mussels, prawns, scallops, etc. and Oily fishes of both small and large species. Many fishes nowadays however, tend to contain traces of toxic heavy metals (e.g. lead, nickel and mercury) as well as solvents (e.g. PCBs and PBDEs) due to their feeding and breeding environments. When ingested, these toxic substances can accumulate within our bodies and adversely impact our short health.

A safe recommendation would be to limit consumption of oily fish (with the exception of tuna which should be completely eliminated due to its high mercury levels) to two servings per week and supplement the rest of your Omega-3 needs with high quality fish oil. Some of my preferred brands include: Nordic Naturals, Melrose and Poliquin, all available in Melbourne containing minimal solvents and are highly regulated to ensure quality.

Cod Liver Oil has been a popular choice of Omega-3s especially for growing children (you might remember the orange flavored emulsions as a kid). However, the high levels of Vitamin A and Vitamin D in this oil may cause toxicity with prolonged consumption. Such oils are best consumed by individuals with specific conditions like Chromes disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, both of which are conditions associated with vitamin A and D deficiencies.

For some vegetarians and individuals with seafood allergies, choosing to avoid fish (even if this mean oils in supplementary form) often means switching to plant-based ‘alternatives’ such as Flax Oil for their Omega-3 fix. Whilst flax oil is often advertised to contain Omega-3s, these are in the form of short-chain Omega-3s called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). While ALA carries its own health benefits, our bodies are not able to convert them efficiently to the desired long-chain EPAs and DHAs, and even when they are converted, it is in minute amounts. Flax oils also tend to be unstable, and most store bought oils would have been already oxidised upon transportation, making the oils rancid upon consumption. The danger of this, apart from not getting your money’s worth, is the fact that rancid oils are cancer causing and have known to lead to other diseases such as arthritis, stroke, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Krill Oil is another good and nutritious source of Omega-3, however the mass harvesting of krill has been found to damage the ecosystem, particularly their impact on whales that rely on them for food. It is therefore in the best interest of the environment that if we source our Omega-3 oils from seafood and oily fish.


May 29, 2012
by ASP Admin

The move from winter into spring often brings on new challenges. For most of us, that can involve losing those winter bulges and getting our physique in top shape for the upcoming summer. This is a time where personal training, gym memberships and bootcamps are in greatest demand, and also a great time to realise that proper nutrition is most crucial to achieving that ideal physique. So what better way to begin than by eating your way to a leaner, sexier body?

Recent research has shown that foods low in refined sugars and high in quality protein, beneficial fats and fibres are a great way to go when targeting the love handles and upper back fat, just under the shoulder blades. According to internationally renowned strength coach Charles Poliquin, fat gravitates to these specific regions due to the body’s insulin response to excessive carbohydrate consumption (do pastas, chocolates and desserts ring a bell?). If that sounds like you, then it’s your body’s unique way of alerting you to the fact that you (along with approximately 70% of the world’s population) are not tolerant to carbohydrates, and should minimise your sugar intake (including fruits and juices) in order to shape up and optimise health benefits. Furthermore, choosing foods that are dense in beneficial vitamins and minerals can also support and accelerate the process of your physique overhaul. For example, foods rich in trace minerals like zinc, calcium and selenium play an important part in building lean muscle and maintaining healthy looking skin

Here are 10 treats for your taste buds that will help you shed those unwanted kilos, feel healthy and bring your sexy back.

1. Wild Salmon

  • Low in calories, yet makes a very satisfying meal.
  • An excellent source of protein that helps build lean muscle and speeds up your metabolic rate.
  • High in omega 3 essential oils that are necessary for maintaining heart health and overall cell integrity.

2. Mushrooms

  • Great source of protein that is low in carbohydrates, and high in fibre.
  • They prevent aromatisation – the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. This helps the body maintain more lean muscle mass, and can contribute specifically to keeping the back of your arms (triceps) lean. 
  • High in antioxidants and natural antibiotics that help strengthen the immune system and prevent cancers. In fact, research has shown that women who ate just one third of an ounce of raw mushrooms a day (about one button mushroom’s worth) had a 64% reduction in breast cancer risk.

3. Brazil Nuts

  • A nutritious snack high in healthy fats to help regulate your thyroid and effectively accelerate your fat burning ability.
  • High in selenium – a trace element that that has shown to prevent breast cancer, maintain youth and speed up your metabolic rate.

4. Ricotta Cheese

  • More than just being high in calcium, ricotta is also rich in branch chain amino-acids (a protein constituent) that boost lean muscle and immune function.
  • Is produced from whey protein (a highly absorbable and beneficial milk protein) that is left behind in the cheese making process, unlike other cheeses that are made from milk curd. 
  • Contains phenylethylamine – a naturally occurring chemical compound that acts like a stimulant elevating desire and mood.  

5. Watercress

  • Prevents the build-up of estrogens in the body. Estrogen accumulation has shown to cause certain cancers like breast and ovarian cancer and specifically induce fat deposits on the thighs as well.
  • Rich in Vitamin C, calcium and zinc that is crucial for collagen production, a protein that gives skin elasticity and firmness.
  • Rich in antioxidants that strengthens the immune system and combats sun damage to the skin.

6. Avocado

  • High in monounsaturated fats that will help lower bad cholesterol absorption and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • A great source of antioxidants that helps maintain firm great looking skin.
  • A tasty healthy alternative to sauces, spreads and dips.

7. Kale

  • A green leafy vegetable that is rich in bone-fortifying calcium. 
  • Prevents the accumulation of estrogens, which is important for cell health and maintaining lean legs.
  • Very rich in beta-carotene. The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A which assist in cell turnover so old skin cells that dull your complexion are replaced with new ( youthful looking) ones.

8. Eggs

  • Helps build lean muscle, a strong immune system as well as maintain a healthy overall cholesterol count.
  • One of nature’s most complete sources of protein and nutritionally balanced meals, provided the yolk and white are consumed together. An Organically-farmed egg (as Mother Nature intended), contains just the right proportions of omega3’s and 6’s for optimal nutrition.
  • The cholesterol in the yolk is a crucial component of each of our 75 trillion cells and is used to maintain an optimal cholesterol count within our bodies.

9. Green Tea

  • A refreshing beverage high in antioxidants that can help combat stress, strengthen the immune system and prevent cancers.
  • A cup of organic green tea can help prevent the absorption of 50 grams of carbs after a meal – a great quick fix for carb binges.

 10. Chili

  • A robust spice that contains capsasum – a compound that helps to elevate your metabolic rate, maintain good heart and skin health, and is used as an anti inflammatory.
  • Contains as much as 3 times the amount of vitamin C as oranges, a vitamin that helps boost immune function and maintain vibrant skin.


April 20, 2012
by ASP Admin

In recent years, there has been a push for foods that are artificially preserved, sweetened, packaged, canned, genetically modified, fortified, and microwavable to be seen as healthy and 100% consumption-safe. What that means for us is that despite destroying vital nutrients and enzymes in whole foods, and adding numerous artificial chemicals (many, lethal in accumulated dosages, with names we can’t even pronounce!), these food cocktails are considered acceptable for our bodies and our ongoing health. Little wonder nowadays we develop countless nutritional problems! With this understanding, let’s embark on a quick nutritional re-evaluation to seek some truth about 5 common food myths, no holds barred:


“When eating eggs, the cholesterol-filled yolk should be discarded, while the egg-white, high in protein and goodness is eaten.”


Eggs represent one of nature’s most complete sources of protein and nutritionally balanced meals, provided the yolk and white are consumed together. An Organically-farmed egg (as Mother Nature intended), contains just the right proportions of omega3’s for optimal nutrition. The cholesterol in the yolk is a crucial component of each of our 75 trillion cells and is used to maintain an optimal cholesterol count within our bodies. Without the yolk, we limit our ability to absorb the nutrients within the egg-whites. It is natures’ way of telling us we should be consuming the egg whole to enjoy its benefits.

In fact, back in some primitive societies, whole eggs were considered so nutritious; it was often prescribed as a pre-pregnancy food for the mother-to-be. Some of these women ate up to 8 eggs daily for extended periods in preparation for conception.


“Tuna, nicknamed ‘chicken-of-the-sea’, is a great protein source and can be consumed frequently.”


Tuna may be high in protein, yet most varieties contain abnormally high levels of mercury. Fossil evidences of more ancient tuna varieties also exhibited a similar pattern of elevated mercury levels, indicating that we should be careful about consuming tuna as a species.
Toxicity studies suggest that by having a single standard can of tuna each day for a week, the safe level of mercury consumption for a 200-pound person is exceeded twice over!
Short term, mercury accumulation can cause decreased mental function and insomnia. In the long run, individuals may develop disrupted thyroid function (tuna will get you fat!), poor gut function and hypertension. Mercury toxicity can also complicate birth and seriously compromise the health of the baby within the womb.


“Margarine is a healthier alternative to Butter, a saturated fat.”


Margarine is a product of a chemical process called hydrogenation. This causes the vegetable oil to solidify and stay rigid under room temperature. Hydrogenation destroys the nutrient and vitamin value of the oil and transforms it’s molecules to resemble a plastic rather than fat!

Because our bodies cannot effectively detoxify plastics, we accumulate it, causing us to store fat and can eventually lead to cancers. Hydrogenation also often leaves traces of nickel and aluminium (used in the chemical process) within the margarine and metal toxicity has been found to cause Alzheimer’s disease and cancers.
In contrast, butter is made naturally from beating cream. The vitamins and minerals are preserved, and pure butter without additives contains healthy fatty-acids that benefits cholesterol levels and general health.
Additionally, numerous studies have shown that margarine increases ‘bad’ Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) and total cholesterol levels of its consumers. Interestingly, since margarine began displacing butter and animal fat in households, heart disease has correspondingly risen from its anonymity to become a leading cause of death!
And finally, given its celluloid-like properties, experts have linked margarine consumption to the development of cellulite. Research have shown that women who revert back to consuming more natural fats like butter tended to display marked improvements in their cellulite problems (so ladies, think again when you opt for margarine).


“Skimmed/low fat milk is a healthier alternative to full fat milk.”


Removing fats from milk separates this naturally-occurring nutrient from its source, creating an ‘incomplete’ food. When consuming skimmed milk, our body will crave for that missing element, often giving us food cravings and hunger-pangs.
Truth is, we cannot absorb the minerals from the milk without the saturated fat that act like carriers. So if you are drinking milk for the calcium, it is futile unless you consume full-fat milk.
Additionally, low fat milk often contains milk powders to obtain a smooth consistency. The milk powder is made by spray-drying the milk proteins and fats, oxidising the cholesterol within it. Increasing research has linked oxidised cholesterol to heart disease.


“Diet drinks are always a healthier alternative because of its significantly lower calorie count.”


Diet drinks contain fewer calories because they contain alternative forms of sweeteners such as aspartame to trick the taste buds. When the tongue tastes the sweetness of the drink, it alerts the brain to incoming sugar. Accordingly, this stimulates the digestive tract to receive the sugar input. However, when no traces of sugar are detected, it sends a return message to the brain indicating a need for sugar. This ironically spikes your craving for sweet foods! Furthermore, recent studies have also started to draw a link between Aspartame and certain cancers.


March 8, 2012
by ASP Admin

Sounding like something straight out of the Flintstones, the Paleolithic (“Paleo”) diet is the original diet designed keep us lean, strong and healthy. As its name suggest, this diet is essentially derived from the types of foods our ancestors consumed during the Paleolithic Age, spanning from about 2,600,000 years ago to about 10,000 years ago. While the availability of certain foods depended largely on factors such as geographic location, climate conditions and seasonal changes, each Paleolithic diet shared several similarities in common:

Firstly, the vegetable components did not include grain and grain products, but mainly consisted of non-starchy wild fruits and vegetables, dairy, and consisted mainly of meat from wild animals, which bore a completely different amount of fatty acid composition to our modern day domestic animals.

Secondly, the non-vegetable components excluded any dairy, and consisted mainly of meat from wild animals, which bore a completely different amount of fatty acid composition to our modern day domestic animals.

Third and perhaps most obviously, the Paleolithic diet excluded processed foods and refined sugar (apart from honey). As a result, the diet could be characterised as high in protein and fibre, and low in carbohydrates.

Now this begs the questions: what makes a 2 million year old diet still relevant in today’s society?

According to science, our genetic structure determines our optimal nutritional needs, and this has evolved according to the environmental conditions in which our ancient ancestors lived, including the foods they ate. The latest research has shown that our genes have only evolved between 0.01-0.02% since our ancestors in the Paleolitic age, leaving us (yup, you guessed it) between 99.8%-99.9% similar to how humans were 2 million years ago! Yet even though our genetic profile has remained largely unchanged, our human diet has drastically drifted away from that of our ancestors. Mass agriculture and industrialisation have introduced numerous grain, refined sugar and salt, dairy products, as well a plethora of processed and artificial foods as a regular part of the human diet.

In other words, many of us are not eating the foods we are genetically and physiologically adapted to eat. The food which we are fuelling our bodies with is therefore not in sync with the fuel our bodies need – much like fuelling an unleaded car with diesel. This resulting discordance has been accused as being a fundamental cause for many of our modern “first world” diseases, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancers, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, heart disease, auto-immune diseases, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s and a host of other conditions that originally were unknown to our Paleolithic ancestors.

Ironically, some of the unhealthiest foods in today’s diet is being promoted and recommended to us by health organisations and nutritionists, and some of the foods which we were made to consume are rejected as unhealthy. Things like saturated fat, cholesterol and red meat – types of foods that humans are actually genetically designed to consume – often come attached with a “eat only in moderation” label. Yet what we should really be eliminating in our diet are grain products, excess sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oils, legumes and homogenised and pasteurised dairy, some of which are at the very base of the universal food pyramid (an out-of-date diet concept still widely accepted in Australia).

If your goal is to stay lean, healthy and natural, here are my 6 Top Tips to maintaining a successful Paleo Diet:

Be generous in having ANIMAL PROTEIN through the day
Organic if possible, as this will contain less toxins, preservatives and hormones. This includes:

  • Red meat and game (Beef, pork, lamb, veal, rabbit, goat, sheep, kangaroo, deer), including their organs (liver, kidney, bone marrow). Don’t be scared to eat the fatty cuts if they come from a well-treated animal and all meals with proteins should contain fat as well. Preferably choose pasture-raised and grass-fed meat coming from a local, environmentally conscious farm.
  • Poultry and eggs (chicken, wild turkey, pheasant, duck, quail, goose)
  • Wild caught fish (Salmon, tuna, trout, bass, halibut, sole, haddock, turbot, walleye, tilapia, cod, flatfish, grouper, mackerel, anchovy, herring)
  • Shellfish (Crab, lobster, shrimps, scallops, clams, oysters, mussels)

Have lots of fresh NON STARCHY VEGETABLES.
These include:

  • Non leafy vegetables (Celery, tomatoes, bell peppers, chilies, onions, garlic, leeks, kohlrabi, green onions, eggplants, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, cucumber, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, artichokes, okra, avocados, zucchini, mushrooms)
  • Leafy vegetables (Lettuce, spinach, collard greens, kale, beet top, mustard greens, dandelion, swiss chard, watercress, turnip greens, seaweeds, endive, arugula (rocket), bok choy, rapini, chicory, radicchio)
  • Root vegetables (Carrots, beets, turnips, parsnips, rutabaga, sweet potatoes, radish, jerusalem artichokes, yams, cassava, pumpkin, ginger)
  • Herbs (Parsley, thyme, lavender, mint, basil, rosemary, chives, tarragon, oregano, sage, dill, bay leaves, coriander)

Moderate your intake of FRUITS AND NUTS.
Bear in mind that while fruits are high in antioxidants and vitamins, the way a lot of store bought fruits are being cultivated and stored nowadays cause them to be extremely high in sugars and almost devoid of nutrients. Therefore aim to eat mostly fruits low in sugar and high in antioxidants like berries as well as nuts high in omega-3 or low in omega-6 like macadamia nuts and almonds. Here are some examples:

  • Fruits (berries, strawberry, cranberry, cranberry, blueberry, blackberry, grapefruit, peaches, nectarines, plums, pomegranates, pineapple, papaya, grapes, cherries, apricot, honeydew melon, kiwi, lemon, lime, mango, tangerine, coconut, figs, dates, passion fruit).
  • Raw nuts and Seeds (pistachios, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), pecans, walnuts, pine nuts, macadamia nuts, chestnuts, cashews, almonds, hazelnuts).

Minimise (or eliminate) CEREALS, GRAINS AND LEGUMES.
While there are certain cultures that have adapted better to consuming these foods, humans as a species have only been eating grains (refined or whole), since the beginning of mass and industrialised agriculture some 10,000 years ago. Since our genes and the make-up of our digestive system was formed long before the advent of industrialisation, grains remained structurally and chemically different to the foods which the human body had already grown accustomed to eating. Unlike birds, which have a digestive system adapted to dealing with grains and seeds, our bodies are simply not made to effectively break down these forms of carbohydrates. These include:

  • Grains (wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, soy)
  • Legumes (peanuts, kidney beans, pinto beans, navy beans and black eyed peas).

In nature, sugar almost always coexists with fats, protein, minerals and vitamins. By segregating sugar, like white sugar, we are in fact feeding our bodies a foreign substance, something that it cannot breakdown completely and will eventually interpret this as a poison. This includes:

Sugar products (sweets, soft drinks, all packaged products and juices including reconstituted fruit juices). As a rule of thumb, if it comes pre-packaged in a can, bag or box, don’t eat it!

With the exceptions of organic butter and maybe heavy cream. Some cultures have successfully adapted well to dairy and its products, but this represents only 30% of the population, and more often than not, they have access to raw diary from organically grown grass-fed cows (not genetically modified cows selected for increased milk production, nor grain-fed cows). For those of us that may not get such high quality raw diary, then be aware that homogenisation and pasteurisation kills the good cultures and enzymes in milk that many of us need when consuming diary.


February 14, 2012
by ASP Admin

“Diets, Diets, Diets.” That seems to be the hot topic on everyone’s lips leading up to summer. Alas, the annual quest for a toner, leaner, more defined physique begins, but with the vast amount of information on dieting, nutrition and looking good, which ones actually work? Let’s take a look at three popular diets and find out what exactly makes a diet work for you.


The Atkins Diet has been widely popularised because of the rapid changes dieters see in their weight. The diet works by switching your body into a state of ketosis, using fat as the main source of energy instead of carbohydrate, thus inducing drastic weight loss. Dieters follow a regimented 4-stage eating plan. The first stage is a two-week induction phase where only fats, meats and certain cheeses are allowed, and starchy carbohydrates, fruits, nuts and legumes are kept to an absolute minimum. Following which, selected carbohydrate portions are gradually increased with each subsequent phase, and done so until the desired weight is achieved.

Celebrities who have been on the Atkins Diets include Halle Berry, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cameron Diaz, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.

The Pros:

  • Good for people who are pre-diabetic and those with type II diabetes.Works well for people who are overweight and need to lose fat fast. Great for meat lovers, given that it is a high fat, high protein diet.

The Cons:

  • Weight loss in the first week or so is mostly due to water loss from the body.
  • It is non- sustainable in the long term.
  • Depravation from carbohydrates can cause one to ‘rebound’, and over indulge in sweets when getting off the diet. (So don’t be surprised when you are heavier than when you first got on the diet!).
  • While it allows for unlimited saturated fat, it does not specify the need for organic saturated fats. The increasing incidence of heart disease and high cholesterol nowadays is due to the accumulation of trans-fats, plastics, chemicals and stress hormones in non-organic animal fats.
  • High amounts of protein at any one time can also increase insulin (the storage hormone) secretion substantially, causing fat to be stored instead of lost.


Founded by Arthur Agatston, MD, the South Beach Diet has had a following of big names such as Oprah Winfrey, Bill Clinton, Jessica Alba, and our very own Nicole Kidman. This diet is based on the theory that cutting out ‘bad’ fats and carbohydrates will help your body lose weight and be less susceptible to heart disease, thus helping you become healthier and slimmer.
Unlike the Atkins, the South Beach Diet does not restrict carbohydrate portions per se, but emphasizes the use of ‘good’ low glycemic (GI) carbohydrates ( carbohydrates that do not cause a sudden spike in our blood sugar levels) over ‘bad ’ high GI ones, such as highly processed foods, sweets and soft drinks. It also distinguishes between ‘good’ unsaturated fats and ‘bad fats’ like saturated fats and trans fat, both of which is believed to increase in the likelihood of cardiovascular disease. The diet is divided into three different phases all of which include specific allowable foods, meal plans and recipes.

The Pros:

  • Ideal for people who want a rough outline on nutrition rather than a structured program.
  • The focus on ‘good’ and ‘bad’ carbohydrates has been found to decrease the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure and help with type 2 diabetes.
  • Carbohydrates are not cut out completely, but are substituted by ‘good’ low GI carbohydrates.
  • There is no need to count calories or weigh foods on this diet.

The Cons:

  • The diet can be a slippery slope for carbohydrate addicts, as no clear guidelines about portion sizes or grams are given. This is left open to the dieter’s interpretation and may lead to overeating.
  • Focusing on the Glycemic index (GI) can be rather misleading and cannot be taken as an absolute indication for healthy living. For example, French fries have a lower GI than baked potatoes, but that does not mean it is a healthier option.


Created by Dr Barry Sears, the Zone Diet was not originally intended for weight loss diet but in fact, had an initial focus of decreasing heart disease. The diet focuses on the consumption of a correct ratio of food groups, in particular each meal should comprise of 40% carbohydrates: 30% protein: 30% fat. By keeping to this optimal ratio, our body’s sugar and fat storage hormone – insulin, will not be over secreted at any one time. This means reduced inflammation, more sustained energy, a better metabolism and the best part of all, the weight falls off. Celebrities including Madonna, Demi Moore, Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston have all claimed success with the Zone diet.

The Pros:

  • Places a focus on lean protein and ‘good cholesterol’ which is healthy for your heart.
  • No specific foods are forbidden, thus giving the dieter a wider variety to choose from.

The Cons:

  • While an ideal ratio is specified, the total amount of food to be consumed within each meal is not. Eating large quantities, despite keeping a ratio does not make it healthy to the waistline!
  • The Zone can be time consuming as food has to be prepared in a fixed proportion. Inconvenience can often deter dieters from reaching their goals.

While all 3 celebrity diets are helpful in losing weight in their own right, dieters often cannot sustain the results of the diet, leading them to put on more weight than when they first started. Oprah, for instance, has been on almost every diet known to man, only to see her weight ‘yo-yo’ up and down. This is known as the ‘rebound effect’. The stricter the diet and the more emotional suppression the dieter goes though, the larger the rebound effect. Frequent yo-yoing also impairs the proper functioning of the thyroid gland (this is the centre that regulates our metabolism), and leads to drastic weight gain.

Diets may work better for one individual over another. This highlights one fundamental truth – that we are all different in body chemistry and physical structure, and therefore have different nutritional requirements. Unless we are eating what our body really needs, it is not going to be helpful to our weight nor health in the long run. Severely low calorie diets have also been shown to increase cortisol (a stress hormone), causing abdominal fat and muscle breakdown.

So if you really what to shed those nasty kilos and keep it off for good, make sure to give these tips a go:

1. Make eating healthy a lifestyle, not a temporary band-aid.
A Diet (Pronounced ‘die-it’) as its name suggest, is a means to an end. By making a lifestyle choice to nourish your body with healthy produce, you will keep that weight off for good.

2. Stop counting calories!
While calories do have a part to play in the dietary equation, they also discount the importance of other elements in foods such as vitamins, mineral and phytochemicals. These are essential for maintaining the optimal health of our bodies as well as facilitating the absorption of nutrients, without which our bodies breakdown and are more susceptible to disease.

3. Do not just focus on weight loss.
Often initial dietary weight loss can be due to the loss of water (not fat, as you would be led to believe!). Learn to rely on other signs such as how your clothes fit, muscle tone and overall fitness levels.

4. Specific foods stimulate specific hormonal responses.
For instance, while pound for pound carbohydrates have the same calorie count as protein; it stimulates insulin more than any other food! Insulin is a storage hormone that is responsible for reducing blood sugar and storing fat.

5. Aim to have protein in every meal.
Protein sources such as meat, fish and eggs not only increases the satiety of the meal, keeping you fuller for longer, but also increases your metabolic rate. In fact, having protein in the morning has been found to stimulate neuro-peptide Y, a neurotransmitter manufactured in the gut which is responsible for feelings of motivation. Thus a good hearty breakfast sets you up for the day and can help you make better decisions.

6. Stick to nature.
Because our bodies are organic, it is best suited to handle foods that are natural. Unprocessed, organic foods contain a higher amount of vital nutrients and are not adulterated with artificial chemicals and pesticides. By opting for fresh organic produce as often as you can, you will ensure that your body has the nutrition it needs for optimal living.

7. Stay off packaged, canned and preserved foods.
Such foods are known to contain large amounts of xeno-estrogens and ‘plastic- like’ molecules which our bodies are unable to breakdown. According to Renowned Strength Charles Poliquin, our inability to detoxify such estrogens effectively often results in fat storage specifically around the thigh and hamstring region.

8. Eat fat to burn fat.
Due to our diets of modern foods, our bodies severely lack omega-3, an essential unsaturated fatty acid. Omega-3s contribute to the optimal functioning and integrity of all our cells. A high quality fish-oil such as Poliquin or Nordic Naturals is regulated by the highest standards in the industry and can provide a much needed supplementation our diets. The benefits of increasing our Omega-3 intake include weight loss, improvement of cognitive ability, and overall cell health.

9. Eat and enjoy your foods slowly.
Taking time to chew and taste the flavours, will not only promote better digestion, it will also ensure that you do not overeat.

10. Exercise with weights.
Research has found that you would reach your maximum weight loss potential after only 6 weeks of continuous aerobic cardio (that’s right, all those extra miles on the treadmill won’t do you any good), and in fact, can make you fat around the belly region. By using weights, you are building lean muscle tissue. Every extra pound of muscle actively tones your figure and burns an extra 70 calories a day!