Posts Tagged ‘paleo’

Plymouth Daylight Hours

Plymouth Daylight Hours

 Sleep is your friend.

And it’s a friend I’m willing to bet you don’t see enough of.

Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar and Survival is one of the most influential books in my nutritional and lifestyle philosophy.  The gist is that we are designed to live in sync with nature and her seasonal shifts. 

Seasonal Sync

Think about it.  In nature the season would dictate what food was available (see the Seasonal Food Calendar blog entry).  The season would also dictate how much daylight there was, how much sleep we got and hence our activity levels. 

Summer would mean lots of light for finding a mate (so that the child would be born in spring and hence miss the winter hardship) and lots of carbs for putting on fat ready for winter.  Winter would spell a lack of carbs and less daylight.  Less daylight and colder temperatures would mean less carbs, more sleep and leaning out ready for spring/summer again.

Where We’re Going Wrong

What happens today is that Carbs are available all year round in devasatingly refined forms, light bulbs mean that WE control daylight and our sleep patterns completely out of kilter with the season.

This is not good. 

As far as our bodies are concerned it’s permanent summer!!  Long days of light mean we crave Carbs – is it any wonder?! Our bodies are trying to fatten us up for winter!

If you look at the chart above, the blue line is the changing number of hours of daylight throughout the year.

There’s a pretty dramatic shift from 8 hours mid-Winter to 16+ hours mid-Summer.

The Solution (More Than Just Sky+)

The upshot of this is that from mid-September to mid-April, you should be getting ATLEAST 9-10 hours sleep per night and eating a low-carb diet.  As summer rolls around, stay up late and increase carbs.

9-10 hours sounds like a lot, but in reality it’s going to be at 10pm and getting up at 7am – not that unreasonable. 

If you’re worried about missing stuff on TV, get SKY+.  If you’re just channel surfing, then go to bed – or read a book (late night reading will make you sleepy, trust me)

Oh yeah, and that should be in a PITCH BLACK room with any blinking, flashing clocks or lights covered.  This will ensure your body releases the right hormones to optimise recovery and health.

Sooner or later, we’ll discuss a little more how to optimise sleep itself, but for now, go black out your windows and get some shut-eye.

🙂 ChrisCFW



Eating Paleo is a great place to start, but getting further into things you might want to start looking into what foods you should be eating at what time of year.

Seasonal eating is a great thing to try and get you head around and is something that our Paleolithic ancestors would have to have done without a choice.

There are several key benefits to seasonal eating, the main ones being:

  • Variety – its easy to fall into the same patterns of eating and get bored.  This forces you to learn to cook new things.
  • Natural rotation diet – eating the same thing day-in, day-out can lead to food intolerances.  Eating seasonally ensures you mix things up to avoid this.
  • Macronutrient ratios naturally syncronised – we’re designed to put on fat for winter and lean out for spring/summer.  Seasonal eating means that your insulin levels and body composition is always within safe limits as the dense carbs that cause insulin issues are only available for a few short months.
  • Fresher foods – if its in-season, your local farmers can supply it so you can get super-fresh produce (check out your local farmer’s market).

Here’s a great calendar of seasonal foods for you to use as a reference point.  This was originally from 

Take a look at the patterns of when fruits are around, when green leafy veg are dominant and when root vegetables come into play – fascinating stuff.

Now, I’m not saying that you can only eat the stuff on the list below, because there are obviously some omissions.  As a guide however to the kinds of stuff you should be basing your diet on, its a good start.

It’s also  a good guide to what you can expect to find at your local farmers market each season.



& vegetables
& meat


cauliflower, celeriac, forced rhubarb (forced to do what?), leeks,
parsnips, turnip, shallots, squash
lobster, scallops


cauliflower, celeriac, chard, chicory, forced rhubarb, kohlrabi, leeks,
parsnips, spinach, swede, turnip
halibut, guinea fowl, lobster


cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, mint, mooli, parsley, broccoli, radishes,
rhubarb, sorrel
(fresh ones!), lobster


cabbage, cauliflower, morel mushrooms, wild garlic, radishes, rhubarb,
carrots, kale, watercress, spinach, rosemary flowers
lamb, cockles


cabbage, cauliflower, gooseberries, parsley, mint, broad beans, rhubarb,
new carrots, samphire, asparagus
bass, lemon sole, sardines, duck, sea trout


cherries, elderflowers, lettuce, strawberries, peppers, asparagus,
redcurrants, peas, rhubarb, gooseberries, tayberries, tomatoes, courgettes,
broad beans
lamb, crab, salmon, grey mullet


gooseberries, strawberries, spinach, tomatoes, watercress, loganberries,
sage, cauliflower, aubergine, fennel, asparagus, cabbage, celery,
cherries, lettuce, mangetout, nectarines, new potatoes, oyster mushrooms,
peas, peaches, radish, raspberries, rhubarb, tomatoes, French beans
pilchards, clams, pike, pigeon


gooseberries, lettuce, loganberries, raspberries, strawberries, cauliflower,
aubergines, nectarines, peaches, peppers, courgettes, rhubarb, sweetcorn,
greengages, basil, peas, pears, apples, French beans, tomatoes
hare, skate, john dory (that’s a fish)


aubergines, blackberries, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cucumber,
damsons, elderberries, figs, French beans, grapes, kale, lettuce,
melons mushrooms, nectarines, onions, peppers, parsnips, peas, peaches,
pears, potatoes, pumpkin, raspberries, rhubarb, spinach, sweetcorn,
venison, oysters, sea bass, grouse, mussels, partridge, wood pigeon,
brown trout


aubergines, beetroot, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, courgettes, grapes,
lettuce, marrow, mushrooms, parsnips, potatoes, squash, tomatoes, 
fowl, partridge, mussels, grouse, oysters


pumpkin, swede, cauliflower, potatoes, parsnips, pears, leeks, quinces,
chestnuts, cranberries, beetroot


cabbage, red cabbage, cauliflower, celeriac, pumpkin, beetroot, turnips,
parsnips, sprouts, pears, swede
duck, goose, sea bass, turkey

Photo by la tartine gourmande

I’m consistently told by people that they eat healthy.

Their bodyfat % usually tells me otherwise.

So what are my top 3 rules for getting your nutritional ass into gear? Let’s take a look…

1. Eat natural

If you couldn’t have dug it up, cut it down or caught it yourself, then chances are you can make a better food choice.

Think meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds.

If it’s something that has been processed to make it, go for foods that have had relatively few processing steps i.e. olive oil = 1 step (the pressing of the olive), therefore good. Snickers = god knows how many steps, therefore eat something else.

A couple of other ways to think of this are to stick to the perimeter of the grocery store where the fresh stuff is and to avoid pretty much anything with bright, eye-catching packaging – it’s usually EVIL!!

2. Quit sugar

This kind of goes with number 1, but refined sugar is a killer. From diabetes to gut problems and a whole host of metabolic derangement conditions, sugar sucks. Get it out of your diet now.

Only drink tea or coffee with sugar? Cut down or find another drink. I had a client who drank 10 cups of tea per day, each with 2 sugars – that’s 20 teaspoons of sugar per day just from beverages.

Oh and kick your soda habit as well – apparently there are the equivalent of 12 teaspoons of sugar in 1 can of coke.

Excess sugar screws up your insulin functioning and when this goes crazy, that when you start storing fat and starting on the road to type-2 diabetes.

If you eat a lot of fruit, that can be just as bad, so make sure you get the majority of your carbs from veggies.

3. Eat enough protein and healthy fat

Nowadays most people I talVeggies!k to are scared of fat. Don’t be. Fat is your friend. Your body needs it for a whole range of jobs. Just make sure you eat the right kinds.

Stay away from processed foods and you’ll avoid the majority of trans-fats – these are man-made fats that succeed in actually stripping vitamins from your body. Not good.

You want to get the majority of your fats as monounsaturated. You can get this from olive oil, avocados, almonds, macadamia nuts and a bunch of other places if you google it.

Take a good fish oil supplement to get another dose of healthy fats, this time polyunsaturated.

Believe it or not, you can also get healthy saturated fats and a good source of this is coconut oil or coconut milk.

As for protein, eat lean sources like chicken breast or fish and aim to have one serving at each meal. Don’t be scared of eating protein, but in all honest even if you’re training hard you don’t need to go overboard.


As long as you eat clean, you’re most of the way there. The next thing to do is control your insulin by reducing sugar and carb intake whilst eating plenty of veggies. Next make sure your getting enough nutrition in the form of quality protein and good, healthy fats.

Get this far and you’ll be eating better than 90% of the population. From here on in, it’s a case of optimizing your nutritional plan to suit your lifestyle and personal needs.

If you need help designing a custom nutritional plan, sign up for our Online Personal Training Service and we’ll work with you to optimize your diet.

I’ve spoken to a number of people recently who are on “diets”.

Now, “diet” is a word I hate to use – it reeks of short-termism.

These people are eating rations of fruit, cereals or bread for breakfast and lunch and then eating a typical meal in the evening.

What they are in effect doing is starving their bodies of protein and fat during the day and instead living on carbohydrates – almost 100% in fact. For one thing, this isn’t good for insulin levels.

Now, they are restricting caloric intake, which will potentially lead to weight loss (assuming the aren’t spking insulin with carb-heavy daytime snacks), but there isn’t a bats chance in hell that they are getting adequate nutrition.

All that will happen is that they may lose weight in the short term, but as soon as they begin to eat “normally”, their bodies will breathe a sigh of relief and store more food as bodyfat should another famine period come around.

What we try to do is look at the long term. We try to educate our clients as to what they should be eating – what kinds of foods, how much and when, so that they can construct balanced, healthy and tasty meals and make the shift from “dieting” to a lifetime of healthy nutrition.

Our program works on the following simple principles:

  1. The body needs a certain level of protein for healthy function.
  2. By controlling carbohydrate intake we can control insulin levels to normalise body-fat %s
  3. Fat is a good thing and is essential to health – you just need to know how much you need.
  4. There are certain foods we are designed to eat as humans and some that we are not.

Ultimately, we utilise Paleo food types and combine these with Zone-style proportions to tell us how much a client should be eating and what types of food they should consume.

The trick with all of this is implementation and this is where it can really help to have someone on hand to guide you each step of the way.

These are the very same principles I follow and I haven’t looked back since I started. I know first-hand that this stuff works.

So, if you need some nutritional guidance, then give us a call at our gym in Totnes– we’d be glad to help.