Meal Timing Myths Destroyed

In this article, I will be busting some old “bro-science” myths and sharing some of the most recent research to set things straight. Today’s topic: meal timing.


It is widely believed that if you eat food, carbohydrates in particular, later on in the evening that it is more likely to be stored as fat because you are not able to “burn it off” during the night. The logic seems to make sense but let’s be a little bit more objective: are 100 calories at 9am still 100 calories at 9pm? Yes, they are. To gain weight/fat you must be in a significant calorie surplus each day/week for a prolonged period of time; changes in bodyweight are determined by your overall energy balance (i.e. Intake vs expenditure). So really when you eat is up to you provided that you meet your calorie and macronutrient goals.

Interestingly, there have been some studies to show that lean (as opposed to obese) individuals who train regularly have a higher metabolic rate during sleep than at rest during the day. Perhaps drifting off into sweet food-fuelled dreams might not be as bad for you as you thought!


Some bodybuilders swear by the 6-meals-a-day rule because they believe that eating smaller meals more often will make their metabolism faster and increase fat loss. Unfortunately, there is no evidence to support such a claim. True enough, your metabolic rate does increase when you eat: the thermic effect of food is the small number of calories that you burn just by digesting a meal. However, the number of calories burned is not related to how often you eat but is in fact directly proportional to the total calories and macronutrient ratio. It’s important to note here that protein has a greater thermic effect than the other macronutrients. Therefore, provided that your daily overall calorie and macronutrient intake are the same, the total thermic effect of food doesn’t change. Once again, the way your meals are distributed is down to personal preference.


Now things get interesting. This time those thick-skulled meat-heads got it right. Whilst weight loss and weight gain is primarily determined by your overall energy balance, if you’re aiming to build as much muscle as possible then getting your protein on time might make a little difference. When you eat and digest protein, an anabolic (muscle building) response is initiated. Muscle protein synthesis reaches a peak maximum rate before returning to baseline levels around 3 hours later. In order to maintain optimal muscle building conditions you need to keep spiking muscle protein synthesis with regular protein doses throughout the day. That’s all well and good but bear in mind – this robotic diet regime might be “optimal” for maximal muscle growth but in the grand scheme of things it makes such a small difference to your body composition and if it’s not “optimal” for you personally then it won’t work for you.


The infamous “anabolic window” strikes fear into the very bicep of a bodybuilder and makes them sprint out of the gym to chug a post-workout protein shake or Tupperware meal before they lose their “gains”. This ridiculous rule states that you must get a protein hit within one hour after finishing your workout if you want to maximise muscle protein synthesis. Again, there is no evidence to support this claim and again, when overall daily calorie and macronutrient intakes are equal there is no significant effect on body composition. The only danger of prolonging your post-workout meal is reaching a potentially “hangry” state whereby having depleted your energy stores through exercise, hunger levels increase and consequently have a negative effect on your mood and temperament.

Take home message: the “BEST” diet is the one which you can stick to in the long term. Overall meal timing has little effect on overall body composition so build a meal plan which both allows you to train hard but also live your every day life without restriction.


Belko, A. Z. and Barbieri, T. F. (1987). ‘Effect of meal size and frequency on the thermic effect of food’, Nutrition Research, 7(3), pp. 237-242.

Bellisle, F., McDevitt, R. and Prentice, A. M. (1997). ‘Meal frequency and energy balance’, British Journal of Nutrition, 77(S1), pp. S57-S70.

Cameron, J. D., Cyr, M. J., & Doucet, E. (2010). ‘Increased meal frequency does not promote greater weight loss in subjects who were prescribed an 8-week equi-energetic energy-restricted diet’, British Journal of Nutrition, 103(08), pp. 1098-1101.

Lennon, D. (2016). Researchers point to the optimal protein does, timing and distribution to maximise muscle. Available at: (Accessed 16 July 2017).

Mischler I, Vermorel M, Montaurier C, Mounier R, Pialoux V, Pequignot JM, Cottet-Emard JM, Coudert J, Fellmann N. (2003). ‘Prolonged daytime exercise repeated over 4 days increases sleeping heart rate and metabolic rate’, Can J Appl Physiol, 28(4), pp. 616-29.

Moore, D. R., Robinson, M. J., Fry, J. L., Tang, J. E., Glover, E. I., Wilkinson, S. B., … & Phillips, S. M. (2009). ‘Ingested protein dose response of muscle and albumin protein synthesis after resistance exercise in young men’, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 89(1), pp. 161-168.

Norton, L. E., Wilson, G. J., Layman, D. K., Moulton, C. J., & Garlick, P. J. (2012). ‘Protein distribution affects muscle mass based on differences in postprandial muscle protein synthesis and plasma leucine in rats’, Nutrition, 9(1), P23.

Norton, L. E., Wilson, G. J., Layman, D. K., Moulton, C. J., & Garlick, P. J. (2012). ‘Leucine content of dietary proteins is a determinant of postprandial skeletal muscle protein synthesis in adult rats’, Nutrition & Metabolism, 9(1), 1.

Schoenfeld, B. J., Aragon, A. A., & Krieger, J. W. (2015). ‘Effects of meal frequency on weight loss and body composition: a meta-analysis’, Nutrition Reviews, 73(2), pp. 69-82.

Zhang K, Sun M, Werner P, Kovera AJ, Albu J, Pi-Sunyer FX, Boozer CN. (2002) ‘Sleeping metabolic rate in relation to body mass index and body composition’, Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord., 26(3), pp. 376-83.

4 Tips To Stay Fit When You Travel

“Sun’s out guns out!”

Despite what the Great British weather might have you think, it’s summer time again and over the next few weeks lots of lucky people will be jetting off all over the world to find some blue skies and white sands.  It’s the chance to finally show off the summer body you’ve been working so hard for! It can be easy to fall off track when you’re a few hundred miles from home but fear not –  I’ve got 4 tips to help you stay in top shape when you travel…

1. No gym? No problem!

When you’re travelling, getting to the gym definitely doesn’t need to be a priority but if you’re itching to get moving try a quick HIIT circuit for a full body blast you can do absolutely anywhere.

5 rounds, 5 exercises, 30 seconds on each, 30 seconds rest between round

  • 1. High knees run on spot
  • 2. Squats with kicks
  • 3. Burpees
  • 4. Spiderman crunch
  • 5. Push up with rotation

On the other hand, if you’re lucky enough to have a hotel with a gym on site then there’s no excuses! Get in an early morning sweat session before everyone else is even out of bed and before the it’s too hot out so you can enjoy the rest of the day stress-free.

NOTE: Don’t forget about all the extra activity you’ll be doing walking, swimming, shopping, cycling or even scuba diving. Keeping yourself busy and on the move is a great way to burn calories all day long.

2. Stay hydrated

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is going to be essential no matter where you are. Aiming for a minimum of 2 litres a day but ideally more will help replace the water you lose when you sweat, cool you down and prevent dehydration. Drinking more water can also help to reduce bloating caused by flights and eating foods higher in calories, carbohydrate and sodium than you might otherwise be used to.

Can you have a cocktail? How about a beer? Enjoying an alcoholic drink is of course allowed in moderation but beware of the calorie content! Alcohol itself contains 7 calories per gram but beers, ciders and wines will have additional carbs too. If you want to do some damage control choose clear spirit shots with diet soda mixers.

3. Don’t go overboard!

No-one expects your nutrition to be spot-on whilst you’re on holiday but “everything in moderation” is the most sensible approach here. Experience the local cuisine, enjoy a few treats here and there but keep an eye on your portion sizes and make the best choices you can. Think “lean and green” to make sure you’re getting good quality protein and micronutrients from fresh fruits and vegetables and remember to ask for salad dressings on the side.

4. Dani says “relax”

One of my favourite phrases is “fitness is a lifestyle, not your whole life”. Whether you workout or not and whether you have a salad or an ice-cream the choice is yours but whatever you do make sure you have FUN! Holidays are special times to spend with your friends and family where fitness shouldn’t be the top of your list. Taking a break from a strict gym and diet routine might be just the thing your central nervous system needs to reset and refresh so you’re ready to go again when you get home.

Bon voyage and remember to stay safe!

Progressive Overload: How to keep the gains coming

I’m not a superstitious person in the slightest but if your workout routine has got you feeling like déjà vu then sooner or later you’ll find yourself stuck in a real rut. The same lifts on the same day, at the same time, at the same weight, for the same sets and the same reps…it’s all the same! You’re probably getting bored of this whole “fitness” thing but actually I don’t blame you.

Progress is change. If nothing is changing about what you’re lifting, what you’re eating or what you’re doing each day then you are not making progress. Persistence and consistency is key but there needs to be CHALLENGE to drive that change, that progress.

Today I’d like to add a third word to my motto. Persistence, consistency and PLASTICITY. Plasticity is your ability to change shape, to mould and adapt to the world that changes around you.

Let’s bring this idea into the gym: Whenever you increase the intensity of a workout, lift something heavier or try something new your body is forced to adapt to this new training stimulus. Your muscles fibres are initially broken down but are rebuilt bigger and stronger. Your brain, your central nervous system, learns to recruit more muscle fibres and motor units to make you perform the exercise stronger and more efficiently next time.

That’s great! We’re getting bigger, stronger and it feels easier and easier every session. BUT! Here’s the catch: studies have shown that after initial hypertrophy occurs, performing the same exercise at the same weight for the same reps and the same sets again and again actually doesn’t use as many muscle fibres as it did as the first time.

So what now? You need to program yourself for PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD.

Progressive overload is the gradual increase of exercise induced stress on your brain and body. The aim is to session by session or week by week increase your training volume (weight x reps x sets) or increase the general intensity (eg. shorter rest periods, more time under tension, duration, endurance…). Making sure that you’re always pushing yourself to progress like this is what will force you to adapt and grow with every workout whilst avoiding plateaus.

If I have one top tip for you to take home today: TRACK YOUR PROGRESS. Progressive overload is essential to reaching your strength and physique goals but you’ll never get there if you don’t know where you’re going. Keeping a note of the exercises, weights, sets and reps you do will give you a record to look back on and set targets for next time.

If it doesn’t challenge you then it doesn’t change you!


Ebbeling, C.B. and Clarkson, P. M. (1989). ‘Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage and Adaptation’, Sports Medicine, 7(4), pp. 207-234

Kraemer, W. J. and Ratamess, N. A. (2004). ‘Fundamentals of Resistance Training: Progression and Exercise Prescription’, American College of Sports Medicine, 36(4), pp. 674-688

Sale, D. G. (1988). ‘Neural adaptation to resistance training’, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 20(5), pp. 135-145

5 Reasons Why You’re Not Recovering After Your Workout

In the fitness world there seems to be an “all or nothing” attitude.

“Go hard or go home”

“No pain no gain”

“Team no days off”

Motivating maybe but they also say “you can have too much of a good thing”. Going balls-to-the-walls in the gym every day will leave you feeling beaten up, battered and sore. No-one can afford an injury and so in this article I’ll be telling you why you’re not recovering after your workouts and what you need to be doing.


It seems trivial but it’s imperative that you perform all of your exercises with correct form. DOMS and dull aches are common and completely normal but any persistent pains may be a sign that you’re not doing something right. If in doubt, ask a personal trainer, a more knowledgeable lifter or consult a video online to help you get that technique right before you start racking up the plates.


Properly warming and up and cooling down is something you can’t neglect! Active recovery after your workout like some light cardio and foam rolling will help your body temperature to adjust more gradually and remove the lactate accumulated in your blood during lifting. A short low intensity cardio session and stretching are things you might like to include on your rest days too to promote recovery.



When you exercise you sweat to cool yourself down so by the end of your session your body will find itself in a water deficit. Staying hydrated during and after your workout is important to keep things running smoothly. However when I say “stay hydrated” I don’t just mean chugging water – re-hydration is replacing the electrolytes or salts you lose as well as water.  Choose a drink with extra electrolytes or add a pinch of salt to your post workout meal. Grenade Defend BCAAs have an added electrolyte blend of powdered coconut water, sodium citrate, monopotassium phosphate and magnesium citrate to keep you covered.


Any type of resistance based training causes microscopic tears to your muscle fibres that must be repaired in order for them to grow back bigger and stronger and it’s your post-workout meal that is going to give them the nutrients they need. Carbohydrates will replenish your glycogen stores and protein will help you to achieve a positive nitrogen balance to kick start anabolic reactions. In a severe calorie deficit or restrictive diet recovery is more difficult.


Last but certainly not least, possibly the most important one of all, you need to REST! Taking at least one rest day from lifting per week if not more and making sure you are getting enough sleep each night is key. During rest your central nervous system can deload the stress of training and during sleep your body gets its hormones back in balance. Cortisol controls stress levels, leptin and ghrelin are linked to appetite and growth hormone helps you make those gains!

Fitness is a jigsaw: training, nutrition, rest and recovery are all the little pieces that fit together perfectly. If just one piece is missing you’ll never finish the picture and you’ll never get the results you want. Don’t forget to take care of yourself too!


Hausswirth, C. and Le Meur, Y. (2011). ‘Physiological and nutritional aspects of post-exercise recovery’,  Sports Medicine, 41(10), pp. 861-882

Pearcey,  G. E. P. et al (2015). ‘Foam rolling for delayed-onset muscle soreness and recovery of dynamic performance measures’, Journal of Athletic Training, 50(1), pp. 5 -13.

Reilly, T. and Ekblom, B. (2005). ‘The use of recovery methods post-exercise’, Journal of Sports Science, 23(6),  pp. 619-627

Meet The Macronutrients Part 3: Fats

In this mini series of articles, I will be giving an overview of each of the three macronutrients that form the base of every balanced diet: protein, carbohydrates and fats. Each have an important role to play in maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle so having some good nutrition know-how is the key to hitting your fitness goals.

We’ve already covered protein in part 1, we’ve covered carbohydrates in part 2, and last but certainly not least today we’re focusing on FAT.

1. What are fats?

Fats, also called lipids, are complex molecules with long tails of hydrocarbon chains. The structure of these chains determines whether the fat is saturated or unsaturated and consequently how they are digested and used by our bodies. Some polyunsaturated fatty acids are “essential” , for example Omega 3, and this means that they can’t be made by our body and need to come from the foods we eat or by supplementation.

2. Does eating fat make you fat?

Absolutely not! Fat provides 9 calories per gram which makes it the most energy dense of all the macronutrients and eating even “small” size servings can still pack a hefty calorie punch. Fats should represent 20-35% of your total daily calories.  However, weight loss and weight gain is based on your overall energy balance i.e. the calories you eat and the calories you burn. Therefore decreasing the amount of fat in your diet is an effective way to decrease your total calorie intake but it is not the only factor to consider.

3. What are the best sources of fat?

Saturated fats found in meat, dairy and processed foods should be minimised; The healthiest sources of unsaturated fats come from whole foods like egg yolks, nuts, oily fish and avocado and these can contribute to lower cholesterol and your risk of heart disease. As always, enjoy each in moderation.


German, J. B. and Dillard, C. J. (2004). ‘Saturated fats: what dietary intake?’,  The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 80(3), pp. 550-559.

Gibney, M. J., Lanham-New, S. A., Cassidy, A. and Vorster, H. H. (2009). Introduction to human nutrition. 2nd edn. Wiley-Blackwell.

Mozaffarian, D., Micha, R. and Wallace S. (2010). ‘Effects on coronary heart disease of increasing polyunsaturated fat in place of saturated fat: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials’, Public Library of Science [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 12 June 2017).

Shepherd, J., Packard, C. J., Grundy, S. M., Yehurun, D., Gotto Jr, A. M. and Taunton, O. D. (1980). ‘Effects of saturated and polyunsaturated fat diets on the chemical composition and metabolism f low density lipoproteins in man’, The Journal of Lipid Research, 21, pp. 91-99.


Meet The Macronutrients Part 2: Carbohydrates

In this mini series of articles, I will be giving an overview of each of the three macronutrients that form the base of every balanced diet: protein, carbohydrates and fats. Each have an important role to play in maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle so having some good nutrition know-how is the key to hitting your fitness goals.

We’ve already covered protein in part 1 (which you can read again here) but now it’s time to shift focus to the next macronutrient on the list: Carbohydrates.

1. What are carbohydrates?

Let’s start with what they are NOT. Carbohydrates are not the devil and not the fat-gaining-fear-mongering macronutrient that society deems them to be. Let’s break it down: “carbo – hydrate”. Carbohydrate is the umbrella term for all molecules made of just carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, 3 elements on the periodic table, not so terrifying now! These molecules are further classified by their size: small simple sugars like glucose and fructose; longer carbohydrate chains are called oligosaccharides; and the larger, more complex carbohydrates are polysaccharides like glycogen and starch. Each gram of carbohydrates provides 4 calories.

2. Why do we need carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for the body, they regulate blood glucose levels and are essential components in the synthesis of other molecules like DNA. The amount of carbohydrates we need in our diet is highly variable but not getting enough has been shown to decrease performance in strength training due to muscle glycogen depletion.

3. Are all carbohydrates created equal?

Consuming a variety of carbohydrates – sugars, starches and fibre – is the key to every balanced diet and maintaining good health.  Whilst weight gain and weight loss is first and foremost down to your overall energy balance (i.e. calories in vs calories out) it’s still important to choose quality sources. Whole grains,  fruits, vegetable and pulses provide additional fibre, vitamins and minerals; processed foods are less satiating and are lower in micronutrients. Therefore, these refined foods should represent a smaller portion of our daily diet but do not need to be eliminated completely. Everything in moderation!


Gibney, M. J., Lanham-New, S. A., Cassidy, A. and Vorster, H. H. (2009). Introduction to human nutrition. 2nd edn. Wiley-Blackwell.

MacDougall, J. D., Ray, S., Sale, D. G., McCarntney, N., Lee, P. and Garner, S. (1999). ‘Muscle substrate utilization and lactate production’, Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology, 24(3), pp. 2019-215.

Haff, G. G., Koch, A. J., Potteiger, J. A., Kuphal, K. E., Magee, L. M., Green, S. B. and Jakcic, J. J. (2000). ‘Carbohydrate supplementation attenuates glycogen loss during acute bouts of resistance exercise’, International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 10(3), pp. 326-339.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (2017). Carbohydrates. Available at, (Accessed: 09 June 2017).



Meet The Macronutrients Part 1: Protein

In this mini series of articles  I will be giving an overview of each of the three macronutrients that form the base of every balanced diet: protein, carbohydrates and fats. Each have an important role to play in maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle so having some good nutrition know-how is the key to hitting your fitness goals.

Let’s start with the obvious. Protein.

Chemically speaking, a protein is a chain of amino joined by peptide bonds and folded in to a large, complex molecule but ask any bro-bodybuilder and we can simplify this to just “GAINZ”. Indeed, both are scientifically correct but we can do better than that.

1. Why do we need protein?

Protein is essential for the repair, maintenance and growth of every single cell in the body, not just muscle. The protein we obtain from our diet is digested, broken down in to its constituent amino acids and recycled to supply the ceaseless cellular factories. As a result, making sure that you get enough protein in your diet each day is imperative to keep things running smoothly and promote anabolism.

2. How much protein do we need?

Whilst dietary reference intakes (DRI) recommend a minimum requirement of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (0.8g/kg), scientific studies suggest that more protein is needed to grow and maintain lean muscle mass in strength training athletes. Estimates fall in the range og 1.2-2.2 g/kg but in athletes training in a calorie deficit (i.e. where calorie consumption is less than total calorie expenditure) protein intake may be increased further up to 2.8g/kg or even as high as 3.1g/kg. It is important to remember that requirements differ on an individual basis.

3. Where can we find protein?

The main sources of protein in our diet are animal based – meat, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs – but grains, pulses and legumes are good plant based sources too. Choosing a variety of foods will ensure that we obtain sufficient amounts of all the different amino acids and other micronutrients too: beans are high in fibre, dairy products are a good source of calcium and oily fish are high in essential fatty acids and vitamin B12.

If you’re still short on your protein intake for the day perhaps consider using supplements for a helping hand. Whey and casein protein powders are dairy-derived whilst vegan friendly soy, rice and pea protein powders are now more widely available. See our full range in stock here. If protein shakes seem too space-age for you try adding some protein packed snacks like bars, brownies and cookies that you can grab on the go!


Gibney, M. J., Lanham-New, S. A., Cassidy, A. and Vorster, H. H. (2009). Introduction to human nutrition. 2nd edn. Wiley-Blackwell.

Helms, E. R., Zinn, C., Rowlands, D. S. and Brown, S. R. (2014). ‘A systematic review of dietary protein during calorie restriction in resistance trained lean athletes: a case for higher intakes’, International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 24(2), pp. 127-138.

Phillips, S. M. (2006).  ‘Dietary protein for athletes: from requirements to metabolic advantage’, Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism31(6), pp. 647-654.

Phillips, S. M. and Van Loon, L. J. (2011).  ‘Dietary protein for athletes: from requirements to optimum adaptation’, Journal of Sports Sciences, 29, pp. 29-38.

Tipton, K. D. and Wolfe, R. R. (2004). ‘Protein and amino acids for athletes’, Journal of Sports Sciences, 22(1), pp. 65-79.


The Echo Pick N Mix is here!

We have been working on this one for a while – our most popular deal in our Windsor store is the Pick N Mix – we have a big selection of protein bars, cookies, protein drinks and supplement samples and our in store customers can mix and match ANY 12 for £20 – well, we have FINALLY managed to bring this online!

This means you can buy ANY 12 products marked with the “Pick n Mix” logo on our website and it’ll adjust the price down to £20 (this works for 24 for £40 etc as well, so as many as you want per order!) – this is the logo to look out for:

Or you can just go straight to the Pick N Mix Category (CLICK HERE) and they’re obviously all included!

Here is just ONE of the countless combinations you can make up for only £20!

Killing Easter Cravings

Easter. Perhaps the second most indulgent holiday after Christmas but just as dangerous for your diet! Whether you’ve stayed away from the sweet treats since making that New Year’s resolution in January or have given them up for Lent there’s no denying that this is a truly testing time. The supermarket shelves are lined with eggs, bars and bags upon bags of chocolate goodies all screaming your name. The kids are begging for just one more and temptation is all around. Can you really resist?

Fortunately for you there a few tips and tricks I can offer you to make sure you kill those cravings this Easter and stay on track for that summer body.

Flexible dieting, or “If It Fits Your Macros” is a science based approach to nutrition many people into fitness are familiar with. Instead of counting calories or labelling foods “clean” and “forbidden”, you have an allowance of carbohydrates, fats and protein to spend on whatever foods you wish throughout the day. Of course, you still aim to fill this with as many healthy and nutritious meals as you can but there’s always room for a cheeky treat. If you fancy a piece of chocolate or beheading a Malteser Bunny all it takes is a little maths to make it fit in your macros. No restriction and cravings satisfied.

If fitting the real deal into your diet is too much of a macro sacrifice then try a substitute. Echo stocks your favourite Snickers and Mars bars’ protein jacked cousins for a perfect pre or post workout chocolate treat. Or how about killing the cocoa cravings with a Grenade Carb Killa? Lower in carbs but still packed with protein these bars all have a soft nougat base, a smooth caramel layer and rich chocolate coat.

Still not satisfied? Go cocoa crazy on all of your day to day recipes! Add a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder to your shakes, smoothies, oats and pancakes to switch things up.