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A scientific approach to health & fitness
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It’s not an exciting word or a very exciting concept. However, consistency is perhaps one of the most important words in your weight loss efforts.

A study carried out by researchers from the Lipid Metabolism Laboratory at the Mayer USDA Human Research Centre on Aging at Tufts University and Tufts-New England Centre in Boston and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, random assigned 160 overweight or obese volunteers to one of four diet plans.

The diets chosen included a carbohydrate restricted diet, fat restricted diet, calorie restricted diet and high-glycemic-load carbohydrate restriction with increased protein diet.

The participants in each diet plan were representative of the overweight population in the US, taking age, race, sex and body mass index.

The research indicated that the most successful way to lose weight is not the type of diet chosen, but the sticking to it.  The research also revealed that people are most likely to stick to calorie and portion restricted and high-glycemic-load carbohydrate restriction with increased protein diets than fat and carbohydrate restricted diets.

However, these results were only observed in those participants who completed the full period of dieting. And when it came to the more extreme diet plans carbohydrate restriction and  fat restriction only half the volunteers stuck to these for the full year. In contrast, almost two thirds were able to complete the calorie restricted.

The study showed that whether the volunteers restricted carbohydrate or fat calories or whether they lowered intake overall, overall everybody lost weight.

Ultimately, it came down to calorie restriction. The strongest predictor of weight lose was not the type of diet, but the compliance with the diet plan that subjects were given.


Competitive sport is all about pushing yourself to find your maximum, both in racing and training. Often, the first step in this process is determining your fitness potential. This requires a benchmark, or scale on which to place the athlete. Since the late 1960’s, VO2max has been one of the primary methods to measure fitness potential. Since its conception, it has been used more and more widely as a training tool.

VO2max is a measurement of how much oxygen you can consume in one minute relative to your body weight, milliliters oxygen per kilogram body weight per minute (ml/kg/min)

Achieving a high VO2max consists of a combination of 3 systems: Pulmonary, Cardiovascular, Muscular,

Pulmonary function, movement of air (oxygen) in and out of the lungs

Muscle mass/ fiber type. Aerobic enzyme activities are higher in slow (Type I) compared with fast twitch (Type II) fibers.

Cardiac output: stoke volume, heart rate, peripheral resistance.

Finding out how much oxygen you can take in during a minute gives you a great idea of the potential for performance. Other factors affecting VO2max are age, gender and body composition.


  • After age 25 its all down-hill (VO2 max declines at a rate of 1% per year after age 25)

Average VO2 max in males

  • 18-25y 43-46
  • 36-45y 35-39
  • 46-55y 32-34
  • >65y 25-28

Average VO2 max in females

  • 18-25y 39-41
  • 36-45y 31-33
  • 46-55y 28-30
  • >65y 22-24

Body composition

  •  Body size and composition since vo2max is expressed relative to bodyweight any variation in body weight will affect VO2max.
  • Athletes with a large body mass (even if its lean body mass) tend to have lower VO2max than smaller athletes.
  • Body composition is also known to influence VO2max – an athlete with a higher % body fat will tend to have a lower VO2max than a similarly sized athlete with a lower % body fat.
  • Mode of exercise, highest values are generally found during treadmill exercise, lowest on bicycle ergometer test; specificity is very important
  • Muscle fiber type, slow oxidative fibers = highest oxygen consumption


  • Even among trained endurance athletes, the sex difference for VO2 max = 15-20% mainly due to differences in:
  • Differences in body composition (higher % lean mass)
  • Hemoglobin (oxygen-carrying red pigment of the red blood corpuscles) concentration.
  • Equivalent hemoglobin levels are 35-47% for women and 42-52% for men.
  • Because hemoglobin requires Iron to carry oxygen, dietary Iron is important for oxygen transportation, lower hemoglobin in woman is one reason for the difference in V02max.

What is a VO2max test lab test?

  • The laboratory VO2max test employs exercise in a mode that uses a large fraction of the muscle mass such as treadmill, cycling or rowing.
  • Exercise progresses in timed stages from light to heavy, until the athlete’s cardio respiratory limit is reached.
  • The measurement of oxygen uptake is measured via exhaled gages for volume, oxygen and carbon dioxide, which requires a metabolic cart.
  • The maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) is the highest level of oxygen attained during exhaustive exercise.

Why test your VO2max test?

  • A measure of cardio respiratory endurance gives an indication of the individual’s aerobic fitness.
  • Endurance athletes generally have a larger capacity for aerobic energy transfer.
  • Most exercise physiologists believe that VO2max is the single best indicator of physical fitness because achievement of a high VO2max is only possible when both the cardiac output and muscle aerobic capacity are high.
  • VO2 max is a key component to success in prolonged exercise activities (Bassett & Howley 2000)

High intensity interval training vs. low intensity aerobic training for fat loss

People trying to lose fat face the dilemma of which form of exercise is best to achieve a better body composition.


Contrary to popular belief, low intensity aerobic training, which is so often used as a fat loss exercise regime, may not be as effective at achieving this goal. In a study (see link below) specifically aimed at determining the relative fat loss potential of different types of activity, it was found that high intensity exercise training was significantly more effective at reducing total abdominal fat, and subcutaneous abdominal fat, than low intensity exercise training.

Effect of exercise training intensity on abdominal visceral fat and body composition

Greek salad omelette

Serves 4

Calories 371, protein 24g, carbs 5g, fat 28g, saturates 9g, fibre 1g, sugar 0g and salt 2g


  • 10 eggs
  • handful of parsley leaves, chopped (optional)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, cut into wedges
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped into large chunks
  • large handful black olives, (pitted are easier to eat)
  • 100g feta cheese, crumbled


  1. Heat the grill to high. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl with the chopped parsley, pepper and salt, if you want. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan, then fry the onion wedges over a high heat for about 4 mins until they start to brown around the edges. Throw in the tomatoes and olives and cook for 1-2 mins until the tomatoes begin to soften.
  2. Turn the heat down to medium and pour in the eggs. Cook the eggs in the pan, stirring them as they begin to set, until half cooked, but still runny in places – about 2 mins. Scatter over the feta, then place the pan under the grill for 5-6 mins until omelette is puffed up and golden. Cut into wedges and serve straight from the pan.


Ready in just 20 minutes, Serves 4

A light dish of grilled chicken fillets and authentic salad with olives, feta cheese, tomato and mint an and Gluten-free


Nutrition per serving Calories 473, protein 37g, Carbs 35g, fat 20g, saturates 8g, sugar 8g, fibre 2g and salt 1.4g


  • 225g quinoa
  • 25g butter
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 400g chicken mini fillets
  • 1½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 300g vine tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • handful pitted black olives
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 100g feta cheese, crumbled
  • small bunch mint leaves, chopped
  • juice and zest ½ lemon



  1. Cook the quinoa following the pack instructions, then rinse in cold water and drain thoroughly.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the butter, chilli and garlic into a paste. Toss the chicken fillets in 2 tsp of the olive oil with some seasoning. Lay in a hot griddle pan and cook for 3-4 mins each side or until cooked through. Transfer to a plate, dot with the spicy butter and set aside to melt.
  3. Next, tip the tomatoes, olives, onion, feta and mint into a bowl. Toss in the cooked quinoa. Stir through the remaining olive oil, lemon juice and zest, and season well. Serve with the chicken fillets on top, drizzled with any buttery chicken juices.


High intensity interval training has a number of benefits including improved aerobic and anaerobic energy production, improved oxygen transport, enhanced lactate clearance, increased lactate threshold, improved speed/power output, enhanced neuromuscular co-ordination/ exercise efficiency and may lead to improvements in vo2max. HIIT is highly beneficial to fitness enthusiasts, where it allows individuals to maximize cardiovascular fitness and calorie consumption in a minimal time period, and endurance athletes, where it can bring about additional improvements in aerobic and anaerobic metabolism beyond those brought about through basic aerobic fitness training. In fact research suggests that amonst well trained endurance athletes the use of HIIT sessions at 90-100% vo2max may be the best way to bring about further improvements in aerobic fitness (Acevado and Goldfrad, 1989;Billet at al.,1999;Stepto et al., 1999)