Is resistance training a better form of exercise for fat loss than aerobic exercise?


Author: Philip Ryan. 
Date Posted: 17th April 2018.

Exercise has been identified as an important component for helping people to manage obesity (Bouchard et al. 2007; Ismail et al. 2011) and an effective way to reduce abdominal fat in obese and overweight people (Kay and Fiatarone Singh 2006). We know the amount of exercise we do has a direct relationship with how much weight we will lose (Bouchard et al. (2007) and that exercise increases our ability to burn fat due to increased mitochondrial density (Deyhle et al. 2014).


It is important to note that fat loss can occur irrespective of weight loss (Bouchard et al. 2007, p.187; Ismail et al. 2011). So we can lose fat without losing body weight. This highlights the difference between Fat Mass and Body Mass with fat mass being the amount of body fat you have and body mass being your total body weight. So we can see why the weighing scales are not the most accurate way of tracking fat loss. 

While the debate often surfaces as to which form of exercise is best of fat loss, Resistance training is believed by many to be more effective at burning fat than aerobic exercise, with “cardio” often getting a bad name. When in fact it has been suggested the most effective way to burn fat through exercise is actually unclear (Ismail et al. 2011) with most researchers placing an importance on the changes in body composition which occur as a result of exercise, being the most important thing to consider for our health (Kay and Fiatarone Singh 2006).  


The American College of Sports Medicine defines aerobic exercise as any type of activity that causes the heart and lungs to work harder than at rest and defines resistance training as physical activity which improves muscular fitness by exercising that muscle against an external resistance (Esco 2013). Some researchers claim aerobic exercise is critical for all exercise programmes aimed at reducing visceral fat (deep fat, which surrounds our internal organs) and that it is best for reducing both fat mass and body mass (Willis et al. 2012). There appears to be strong evidence to show the effectiveness of aerobic exercise on reducing fat. In studies where, Aerobic exercise was directly compared to resistance training, the results appear to favour aerobic exercise for reducing visceral fat  (Ismail et al. 2011)and it is aerobic exercise along with a calorie controlled diet which has the most positive effect on fat loss.

The inference from the research is that while resistance training will be effective in increasing lean body mass, it is actually aerobic exercise that decreases fat mass. Researchers argue that the evidence in support of aerobic exercise as being most effective for fat loss is compelling but that a resistance training programme is needed if increasing muscle mass or strength is the goal. However, when balancing time commitments against the health benefits, aerobic exercise alone seems to be best for reducing fat and body weight.In addition, Kay and Fiatarone Singh (2006) claim that when assessing people with the same BMI measurement, those who have a better level of cardiovascular fitness have less abdominal fat than people with low levels of cardiovascular fitness. This indicates that from people who weigh the same, those who have an increased level of aerobic activity, actually have less body fat than those who don’t.


As previously mentioned, resistance training is needed for increasing lean muscle and strength but resistance training alone does not appear to reduce fat mass or body mass more effectively than aerobic exercise (Willis et al. 2012) . However, there are conflicting reports in the literature, but ultimately researchers believe that changes in body fat percentage which occur as a result of resistance training are due to increased lean muscle mass and not fat loss. With this in mind it might be time to reconsider if resistance training alone can reduce fat mass in overweight or sedentary adults. Ismail et al. (2012) refute this suggestion by claiming that resistance training is known to positively affect insulin sensitivity and other processes associated with visceral fat and that it can directly reduce visceral fat. We must also consider that Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption is noticeably higher after resistance training, meaning more energy is needed to restore the body to pre-exercise levels (Deyhle et al. 2014). Furthermore, Kay and Fiatarone Singh (2006) suggest that while aerobic exercise is very effective, there is good reason to promote resistance training for fat loss. They claim resistance training might be a more suitable form of exercise for reducing body fat in older adults, in particular, who may not be able to tolerate the demands of a high intensity aerobic exercise programme due to issues with cardiovascular disease, arthritis, osteoporosis or mobility. Esco (2013) supports this claim by suggesting resistance training is important for preventing the loss of muscle mass and improving quality of life which is why the American College of Sports Medicine recommend a minimum of two RT sessions a week.

While the body of evidence suggests aerobic exercise is better than resistance for fat loss with resistance training being better for improving lean muscle tissue and strength, we must realise that it is difficult to directly compare these forms of training in comparable amounts due to their different training stimulus (Willis et al. 2012). Aerobic exercise is a continuous form of training while resistance training is intermittent, with different metabolic strains placed on the body and differences in how long the muscle is under tension (Willis et al. 2012). This makes it very difficult to have exact comparable amounts of each method of training (Ismail et al. 2011).Furthermore, the energy expenditure of aerobic exercise and resistance training cannot be estimated in the same way and they impact fat stores differently (Kay and Fiatarone Singh 2006). So we must ask ourselves the question, if we can’t compare them directly then how can we determine which is better? But of course that is the question most often asked. I suggest the most obvious answer would be combining both aerobic and resistance training for the most effective way of reducing abdominal fat. Interestingly, Willis et al. (2012) claim that both aerobic exercise and aerobic and resistance combined programmes are more effective at burning fat than resistance  programmes alone, with resistance training and aerobic and resistance combined programmes more effective at increasing lean muscle. However, again they too favour aerobic exercise as the most beneficial. They observed that an aerobic and resistance combined training programme requires double the time commitment but didnt result in greater fat loss or reduced body mass than an aerobic exercise only programme.


The purpose of this post was to determine if resistance training is a better form of exercise for fat loss than aerobic exercise. The weight of the evidence suggests that aerobic exercise is better at reducing body fat than resistance training, with resistance training being more suitable for improving lean muscle mass. However, I think it is important that we release it is actually very difficult to directly compare these two forms of training due to their different training stimulus and energy expenditure. While there is evidence to suggest that combining aerobic exercise and resistance training is an effective way of burning fat some believe that for double the time commitment it does not appear to be significantly better than aerobic exercise only. Although aerobic exercise is considered better than resistance training for fat loss, it is significant to note that resistance training is an important form of training for improving muscle strength and preventing muscle loss. For this reason we should include a minimum of two resistance training sessions a week in all exercise programmes. So I guess to answer the question, “which is better for fat loss aerobic exercise or resistance training“, the answer would appear to be, aerobic exercise but we should include both forms of training in all exercise programmes in order to reduce body fat, improve lean muscle tissue and improve muscle function. 

Reference List

Bouchard, C., Blair, S. N. and Haskell, W. L. (2007) Physical Activity and Health, Champaign Illinois: Human Kinetics.

Deyhle, M., Mermier, C. and Kravitz, L. (2014) ‘The Physiology of Fat Loss’, The IDEA Fitness Journal, available:

Esco, M. R. (2013) Resistance Training for Health and Fitness, American College of Sports Medicine, available: [accessed 30/09/2017].

Ismail, I., Keating, S. E., Baker, M. K. and Johnson, N. A. (2011) ‘A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of aerobic vs. resistance exercise training on visceral fat’, Obesity Reviews, 13(1), 68-91, available: doi: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2011.00931.x.

Kay, S. J. and Fiatarone Singh, M. A. (2006) ‘The influence of physical activity on abdominal fat: a systematic review of the literature’, Obesity Reviews, 7(1), 183-200, available: doi: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2006.00250.x.

Willis, L. H., Slentz, C. A., Bateman, L. A., Sheilds, A. T., Piner, L. W., Bales, C. W., Houmard, J. A. and Kraus, W. E. (2012) ‘Effects of aerobic and/or resistance training on body mass and fat mass in overweight or obese adults’, Journal of Applied Physiology, 113(12), 1831-1837, available: doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.01370.2011.

Improving Race Pace with Interval Speed Work


Speed Work – 1 km Repeats

Improving Race Pace with Interval Speed Work.

Here is a Conditioning Session idea for Distance Runners Specifically Targeting improving or maintaining 5k Race Pace.
The purpose of this Speed Work session is to Build Volume (Spend Time) at or above 5k Race Pace.

The session I did today was 6 x 1 Km Repeats @ 5k Race Pace with 3 min Recovery between each Interval.

The AIM of the Session is to try to improve current 5k Race Pace of 6:20 Minute Miles by running 6 x 1 km at or below 6:20 min mile pace with 3 minutes walk/jog recovery between each interval.
You can do the exact same session as me but just make sure you run at YOUR 5k pace, My Pace may be too hard or too easy for you.

Here is the Break down of how my Session Intervals Looked:

Interval Distance Time Average Pace Average  Heart Rate
1 1 Km 3:56 6:03 Min Miles 165 BPM  85% OF Max
2 1 Km 3:55 6:03 Min Miles 171 BPM  90% of Max
3 1 Km 3:57 6:05 Min Miles 173 BPM  91% of Max
4 1 Km 4:00 6:10 Min Miles 174 BPM  91% of Max
5 1 Km 4:01 6:11 Min Miles 175 BPM  92% of Max
6 1 Km 4:04 6:17 Min Miles 176 BPM  92% of Max

After Each interval I would have given myself 3 Minutes Recovery (Rest) by Walking until it was time to run again.

Speed work sessions like these are very important when trying to improve or Maintain Race Pace. Your 5k Race Pace is your quickest Pace (if you are a 5k to Marathon Runner) so you will be working close to your maximum. Heart Rate during the interval part of this session is likely to be above 90% of Maximum followed by a nice long recovery of a very light jog or Walk. I chose to walk my recoveries today.

Here is how my Heart Rate Looked During The Session:

Photo 03-09-2016, 12 52 35 p.m.

From the Table above and this Graph you can see I am working at 90% of Max Heart Rate or over During my Kilometer Intervals (approx 4 minutes) and then my Heart Rate drops back down to 60-65% of Max Heart Rate during my 3 minutes recovery. Below is a breakdown of the time I spent in the different Heart Rate Training Zones. The objective of this session is to spend most of your time in Heart Rate Training Zone 5 – The High Intensity Training Zone – which I achieved.

Photo 03-09-2016, 2 29 45 p.m.

Recommendation for these types of Sessions:

4 – 6 x 1 km Repeats with 2- 4 minutes Walk/Jog Recovery between each interval.

You should start at 4 Reps and gradually progress to 6 over a number of weeks. Recovery should be kept to what ever recovery you need to hit your intervals target pace for the session. Another way of progressing the intensity of the session would be to keep the Repetitions the same but to decrease the recovery Period so for example: 4 x 1km Repeats with 4 minutes Recovery could be progressed by doing 4 x 1km Repeats with 3 Minutes Recovery as opposed to increasing Repetitions to 5. You should note that you should never increase the Repetitions AND Decrease the Recovery together in the same session, do one or the other but not both!!. Also It should be mentioned that this style of training would not suit Beginner Runners and would only suit runners who are already comfortable at covering the 5k – 10k distance and are looking to improve their times.
The great benefit of these sessions is that it helps improve your Cadence (Leg Turnover Speed), It Improves the point at which the build up of Lactic Acid starts to decrease your performance (Improves Your Lactate Threshold) and it recruits your Type 2 Muscle Fibers which do not get trained during your long endurance runs or your comfortable, steady state style training runs.
Including Speed work once a week into your weekly training routine will help you to become a faster, stronger and more complete runner.

Always allow 6 – 8 weeks when you start training this way to when you expect to see major improvements.


Tempo Runs should also be included in your training sessions once per week see this link to some information I wrote on Tempo Running.

Improving Race Pace: The Tempo Run


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Improving Race Pace: The Tempo Run


Photo 23-08-2016, 9 07 08 p.m.

Improving Race Pace with The Race Pace Tempo Run.

This is a Conditioning Session idea for Distance Runners looking to improve or maintain their Race Pace.

This style of training wouldn’t be recommended for new or beginner runners who should focus their attention on Aerobic Endurance (Something I will blog about at a later stage)

So what is a Tempo Run?

The Tempo run is designed to get you out of your “comfort zone” (The Comfortable Pace that you want to run at) and into the “Anaerobic Training Zone” (That Scary Place where you wonder why you took up running at all). A Tempo Run is basically done by mixing Harder Efforts of running with Easier Efforts, spending time at higher intensities and then returing to a lower intensity with an easier effort for recovery. During the Tempo Run you are looking to work at 80% – 92% of Max Heart Rate in intervals of 15 – 30 mins or even longer depending on the event you are training for. The Tempo Run plays an important part in improving Anaerobic Endurance and your Fatigue Resistance (How you cope with The Build up of Lactic Acid). There are many different versions of the Tempo Run. Here is the one I did during the week as part of my training for my next race (which is a 10 Mile Event).

I like the Tempo Interval Style of Training, working with Ratios.

The Goal of The Session was to spend 4 Miles at 10 Mile Race Pace which for me is 7:15 – 7:20 minute miles.
I used a Work:Rest Ratio of 2:1
Rest was my Comfortable Pace (Steady State) which for me is 8:15 Minute Miles.

So that all sounds complicated but the session itself is easy to understand but it is hard to do. All you need to do is figure out the paces that suit you. It doesn’t matter what your pace is as long as you are working at above 80% of YOUR Max Heart Rate so figure out YOUR desired Race Pace and YOUR Comfortable Pace. I’m just including my times to illustrate how the session works, you don’t have to run at this pace as it will be too hard for some and too easy for others.


Mile 1: Comfortable Pace @ 8:15 Min Miles
Mile 2 :Tempo Pace @ 7:15 Min Miles
Mile 3: Tempo Pace @ 7:15 Min Miles
Mile 4: RECOVERY PACE @ 8:15 Min Miles
Mile 5: Tempo Pace @ 7:15 Min Miles
Mile 6: Tempo Pace @7:15 Min Miles.

Total 6 Miles with 4 miles at Target Race Pace of 7:15 min miles.

I have included my time splits in this picture so you can see exactly what I did.

Photo 23-08-2016, 8 48 54 p.m.

I’ve also included My Heart Rate Graph which shows how my Heart Rate increased as the session goes on and drops as I ran my recovery mile and then continues to climb as I complete the session.

Photo 23-08-2016, 8 48 31 p.m.

My Heart Rate Average for this session was 84% of my Max Heart Rate which is right where I needed it to be. Above 80% of Max Heart Rate.

Of course this session will need to be progressed as I get closer to my Target Event because I am only spending 4 miles at race pace. I will gradually increase this to 6 miles and then 8 miles @ Race Pace by increasing the Work:Rest Ratios from 2:1 to 3:1 and finally to 4:1. So my final session in preparation for my 10 Mile Race would be:

1 Mile: Easy

4 Miles @ Race Pace x 2

The session will be a total of 10 miles with 8 miles spent at Race Pace. This type of session should be done ONCE 2 weeks before the Target Race to give yourself plenty of time to rest and recover for the big day.

A Tempo Run should be included in your training plan Once a week.

Hope this was interesting. As I said earlier there are any different forms of Tempo Runs, this Interval style Tempo Run is the style I’m experimenting with at the moment.
I will be sharing a lot more session ideas over the coming weeks. I would love any feedback from regular runners on what they think of my training ideas.


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The Secret To Successful Weight Loss



So you have clicked on this post because you are interested in the secret to successful weight loss, around about now is usually the point where you are asked for your email address and “if you would like to READ MORE sign up to my NEW 21 Day Rapid Fast loss programme for only $49.99”

Don’t worry Im not going to do that. Im here to tell you there is NO SECRET!!

You already know the secret. If you want to lose weight all you really need to do is change your habits. If your eating habits or exercise habits (or lack of) are the reason you feel you need to lose weight, then these need to change.

We get bombarded by advertisements everyday about weight loss. Its easy to get sucked into thinking that there is some magic formula, some magic potion, some magic diet, some magic exercise plan etc. You hear words like HIIT, Bootcamp, Detox, Paleo, Gluten Free, Low Carb, Protein, Macros…… You’ll hear people tell you to train a certain way or to eat a certain way and you think “that must be why I haven’t lost weight before”. People get exploited, They basically promise you will lose what ever amount of weight you want to lose 20, 30, 40 lbs as long as you sign up to this NEW Innovative Weight Loss Programme. When you feel overweight, you feel self conscious of your weight and people even feel unhappy about their weight, so the idea of a 3 Week FIX sounds perfect.

The above picture is me, I lost 46 lbs between the time these two photos were taken. These photos are NOT 8 weeks apart, they are YEARS apart. If there is a Secret to successful weight loss well then Slow, Steady, Consistent weight loss along with a complete change in lifestyle habits is it. I learned to lose weight largely through Trial and Error. I Believe it is important to INVEST time in yourself, to learn how YOU lose weight, to learn the things that you do in your life that contribute to your weight gain, to learn the type of exercise you enjoy. You didn’t put the weight on in 21 days so why expect to lose it that fast. It is a gradual process.

All studies show that people who lose an average of 1 -2 lbs a Week on a consistent basis tend to weigh much less then those who experience rapid weight loss over a 6 month period. That’s because when you lose weight slowly you are also learning to change your habits, your eating habits, your relationship with alcohol, your exercise habits and you are doing this over a long period of time so these new habits become ingrained in you, you change how you think, you CHANGE your habits. In my opinion you do not get this from a 3 week programme. I do not doubt that people will lose weight, of course they will, if you go from eating poorly and not exercising to a High Intensity Exercise programme with a restrictive Low Calorie or Low Carb diet, of course you will lose weight BUT you have not actually changed any of your habits which are the root of the problem. When the programme ends you are now on your own without a person to tell you what to do and it is very difficult to workout at a High Intensity on your own especially when you are not someone who is a regular exerciser. Its easy now to put weight back on to settle back into old habits and studies show people often tend to weight more then they originally did after 6 months largely because they now feel worse about having lost it and put it all back on.

I exercise to be healthy, to be fit, to keep my weight under control and to feel good. I exercise to improve. I eat to nourish the body and to fuel my body properly. I don’t like restrictive diets or an over emphasis on short term weight loss.

If you want to know any more about me or my Fitness Class I’m on all social media.

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My Alcohol 360!



If the Government came out tomorrow and said “Alcohol is now banned, no more will be produced and you can never drink again”…. I wouldn’t shed any tears. However if they came out and said the same thing 5/6 years ago I’d be up in arms outside Government Buildings protesting. What would we do without alcohol?.

I’m not a reformed alcoholic, I was never alcohol dependent but alcohol played a massive part in a lot of the decisions I made in my early twenties…. the majority of the poor decisions I made. I had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. I loved it, it didn’t love me back!!

I can honestly say that I have chosen a night of drinking knowing that there would be a negative repercussion in my life the next day as a result. On more than one occasion. I made these decisions often BEFORE I even started drinking in the full knowledge that I was doing the wrong thing. That’s not good. People can say “oh I’m sorry I was pissed sure I didn’t have a clue what I was doing” but lets face it, we often make our decision before we start drinking and then when we are drunk it just makes it OK until we have to deal with the problem the next day.

I can’t speak for everyone, everyone’s relationship with alcohol will be different. I was a good drunk, majority of the time, outgoing, sociable, “Up for The Craic” the usual. I lived for my Friday and Saturday nights out. I had some great nights out and some nights that were shite but I still tried to convince myself they were great. Out every weekend, achieving nothing but a sore head and an empty wallet.

This morning I went for a 6 mile run on a wonderful Winters Sunday Morning. It was absolutely freezing at 9:30am but the Sun was shinning as if it was a summers morning. A fantastic morning for running. This is why I have decided to write this blog post, I thought about all the, not just Sunday Mornings but all the SUNDAYS I wasted lying around in bed feeling like absolute shite after a heavy weekend of drinking and I thought to myself “I’m so glad I didn’t waste this Sunday Morning”

I rarely drink now, I have very little interest in it. Around this time of the year I would often go 5 months without having a drink. I don’t miss it. It might sound like I’m full of regret about how I used to be but I don’t regret all the weekends out drinking at all, in a funny way comparing how I am now to how I was then has been a massive motivating factor helping me stick with this new healthier lifestyle.

Running has given me back what alcohol took away from me. 

  • Alcohol caused me to drop out of college, Running has brought me back to college, working full time and studying at weekends working towards my degree.
  • Alcohol helped me put on 3 Stone, Running has helped me lose 3 Stone.
  • Alcohol stole my Sundays from me, Running has given my Sundays back to me.
  • Alcohol made me unambitious and lazy, Running has made me ambitious and has given me energy. I want more, To learn more, to be more active.
  • Alcohol effected my Mental Health, Running Improved my Mental Health!

When you are involved with exercise or sport you see food differently than you did before. Food has a function, its fuel. Chicken is no longer Chicken, its Protein, so the day I read this line is the day I stopped giving any importance in my life to alcohol. That line was

“Alcohol has ZERO Nutritional Benefits to the body” 

Zero Lads!! That means none. We can drink 6/7 pints of Beer, not a bother, does us no good, in fact it causes us a lot of harm. The Irish Cancer Society will tell you it is known to cause 7 different types of cancer. Wouldn’t it be great if we could consume such large quantities of something that actually does us some good. You wouldn’t drink 7 pints of water.

People might not like this Article, Alcohol is so ingrained in Irish culture that its actually extremely difficult to be in any social situation where people are drinking and to chose not to drink. There HAS to be a reason as to why you are not drinking, some people can’t let it go until they find out what the reason is. they can’t except “I actually just don’t want to drink at this particular moment in time” you have to be driving or on Antibiotics or something. I used to be one of these people, I couldn’t for the life of me understand why someone wasn’t drinking, I thought there was something wrong with them.

There are times I will have a drink and times I won’t. The times I like to have a drink are very few, I find 3 bottles of beer when I do have a drink is enough for me, I just don’t enjoy anything after that.

I’ve written this in the hope that maybe someone else might read it and think about how often they drink and think that maybe they should drink less or give it less importance. In my opinion Alcohol has no place in a healthy diet or lifestyle and no one will be able to change that opinion.

So Please 


Kind Regards,


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It’s a long way from …….. I was reared!!


19 year old me would fall around the place laughing at 29 year old me if he heard me talking about the kind of food I eat now. 19 year old me and 29 year old me certainly wouldn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things. My idea of a good time back then is a lot different to what it is now. So in this spirit and because Wednesday is grocery shopping day, for a bit of craic and to poke a bit of fun at myself I’m making a list of some of the things I now eat regularly that I never even heard of when I was younger in a post I’m calling:

“It’s a long way from …. I was reared”

“So it’s a long way from:


Almond Butter

Almond Milk

Coconut Water

Chia Seeds

Greek Style Youghurt

Green Tea

Protein Milk

0% Fat Milk

Sweet Potato


Coconut Oil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Wholemeal Pasta

Wholemeal Rice

Turkey Rashers


Naked Bars & Smoothies

I was Reared

It’s a long way from here to there. I don’t take myself too seriously because I know I’ve turned into the exact person I would have made fun of in the past. It’s funny how life changes, I’m happier now then I’ve ever been but I still wouldn’t change how I was before because its looking back and seeing the difference now to how it was before that has made the hard work even more worth it. 

The weight loss was only a small part of it the biggest change is in my mentality these days. 



Phil Ryan Fitness

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You can’t out-train a bad diet!! How I wasted 12 months trying to…


You can't out-train a bad diet!

You can’t out-train a bad diet!

January 1st 2011 was the day I decided that once and for all I would lose weight. I had tried and failed on a number of occasions before this to get fit but this time I thought it was going to be different. On the first of January that year I weighted 14 st 13 lbs. I took up running and decided I would run in The Great Limerick Run 10k. I signed up for the event, I downloaded a 10 week training plan, I trained, I took part in my first 10k, I completed my first 10k, I hit my target of getting across the line in under the hour (59:29 mins), I really enjoyed it, I got the running bug, I was now a regular runner but on the 31st of December 2011 I weight 14 st 10 lbs. All that running for a full year and in the end I only lost 3 lbs. I was gutted. Luckily for me I enjoyed the running and I didn’t give it up. On January 1st 2012 I decided to really focus on my diet and Nutrition and this helped me to achieve the weight loss I wanted.

So today I want to share some of the mistakes I made in that first year in the hope that you wont make the same mistakes I did.

The biggest thing I did wrong.

All I did was take up running, I didn’t make any effort to eat well, I carried on the same as always, Nights out, Alcohol, Take Aways, Frozen Food, Chicken Rolls. If anything I was eating more food, I could justify it because I was exercising now. I would say its ok to have this take away because I went for a 2 mile run earlier.I thought since I never did any exercise before and now I was exercising regularly that the weight would just fall off. This really isn’t the case. Exercise and Nutrition really go hand in hand, you shouldn’t have one without the other. People say its 80% Diet and 20% exercise. I say its 100% Diet and 100% exercise. I believe you have to put your full effort into both if you want to see results.

There are so many changes I’ve made to my diet since 2011 but Here are a list of 5 things I really credit as being some of the biggest stumbling blocks to my weight loss that year.


I couldn’t go for a run without drinking a sports drink. It was like I needed the sports drink to get me through the run. It became a crutch. I had to have it. It was part of the exercise gear: Shorts, T-Shirt, Running Shoes, Watch and Sports drink. A lot of my training runs back then would have been 2 mile runs, they may have lasted 20 minutes or so, I know now there was no reason for me to have a sports drink to get me through that run. I was more than likely drinking more calories than I was burning. Sports drinks a very high in sugar and to be honest are unnecessary really for most people. I have a rule now that I only drink sports drinks if I’m going for a run that will be an hour or more in duration or when I’m taking part in a race where I know I’ll be pushing myself harder than usual. I only drink the LITE Sports drinks, they are about 50 calories. Regular sports drinks are roughly 250 calories. Water is all you will need to get you through most of your runs so try not to use a sports drinks.

2) Cereal Bars

I was eating these like they were going out of fashion. They are marketed as healthy, I assumed they were healthy. I didn’t realise then that these are full of sugar too. I was having 1 or 2 or these a days. These bars are not the healthy breakfast option they are marketed as. You are better off having a handful of nuts or some fruit. Try to stay away from these if you can. See them as a treat, treat them the same way you would a chocolate bar.

3) Alcohol

If you want to lose weight, dramatically reduce your intake of alcohol. Alcohol offers no nutritional benefits to the body, it’s all just empty calories. In 2011 I gave up alcohol for lent. I was under 14 stone when I ran in The Great Limerick Run. That night after the run I went back to drinking alcohol and in just over a month I had put all the weight back on again. Here are the photos from May 2011 and June 2011..

May 2011 vs June 2011

May 2011 vs June 2011

Besides the fact alcohol is just calories, it also encourages you to make poor decisions. After your feed of drink you are likely to go to the chipper before you go home and then the next day when you are hung over all you want is comfort food. All of this is adding a high amount of calories, saturated fat and salt into your diet along with having the negative effect that you don’t feel like exercising. Enjoy a drink every now and again by all means but If you want to lose weight, it’s the first thing that you should think about cutting from your diet.

4) “Diet/Healthy Cereals”

I wont write too much here as it is very similar to Cereal Bars. I used to eat Special K thinking it was the healthiest breakfast option around because that’s exactly what it is marketed to you as. It isn’t, its full of sugar, a lot of breakfast cereals are full of sugar. I switched to porridge and I’ve never gone back. I like to add fruit and nuts to my porridge and change these up every now and again so that I don’t get bored with eating the same thing every morning.

5) Added Sugar

I would add sugar to everything. My Tea and my Cereal in particular. I would add 3 tea spoons of sugar to my Tea and my Cereal would be covered in a thick layer of sugar. This was the case when I first switched to porridge too. Now I don’t ADD sugar to anything. I still eat sugar but try my best to stay away from added sugar. So I don’t add sugar to my tea or cereal or porridge.I don’t add sugar to anything, the only time I touch the sugar bowl is when I’m making my wife her cup of tea (she takes 1 spoon now down from 2). I haven’t cut sugar out of my diet. Sugar is in nearly everything. There is sugar in fruit sure, so my rule regarding sugar is…. if it’s naturally occurring sugar in the products it doesn’t bother me but if its full of added sugar (Such as Fizzy drinks or Biscuits) I stay away from it best I can. No man is an island and life is hard so I do let myself indulge from time to time but its ok to do that now that I am a regular exerciser and that I have more good eating habits than bad ones.

I can still remember the night before my first 10k eating Southern Fried Chicken and Chips absolutely smothered in Salt!!! I’m not surprised looking back knowing what I known now that I didn’t lose weight that year.

You will find more of the changes I made in these blogs I have posted over the last few weeks.




Thanks for reading my blog



Phil Ryan Fitness

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A Go To Template for a Healthy Dinner Plan!!


When I first started studying Nutrition I have to say that I found it the most frustrating subject to try to get my head around, the reason it is so frustrating is that there is no ONE answer to What is a Healthy Balanced Diet?

There must be 1,000 different ways to eat well and to eat healthily so you really have to figure out whats good you for, what works for you and you need to separate the good advice from the bad advice. When I went on my Nutrition course I expected to be handed a template or at least the basis of a template that I could use when designing my meal plans, it became very obvious to me on the first night that this was not going to be the case. What I found about Nutrition was the answer to a lot of my questions was .. “Well yes technically but you can also………..” Basically I got very few definitive answers to my questions.

So this led me to work things out for myself. I took what I learned, applied it to the types of foods I liked to eat and created a Default Template that I could use so that I could always have a go to guide for a healthy diet. Today I’m going to share with you my Go To Template for a healthy Dinner Plan.

The Balanced Diet (Dinner)


As you can see from the Image above (Beautifully illustrated by my wife because she wouldn’t let my attempt at drawing this up on the internet) The Black Circle is your Dinner Plate and It is divided into 3 sections. The small circle outside the dinner plate is your Glass. The idea is to divide your dinner into Protein, Carbohydrates, Vitamins & Minerals and Calcium. This is the basis of the template, you can then interchange the types of foods that fit into these categories and you can have a different dinner every night if you want to… very simple and easy to follow.

Protein: In this section you will ideally choose lean meats such as Chicken breasts, Turkey breasts, Steak or Fish (Salmon etc.) Just cover these meats in seasoning you like using herbs and spices to jazz them up so that they are not too plain (Stay away from Salt). As a treat then every now and again you can choose some of the other types of meats like pork, bacon or southern fired chicken.

Carbohydrates: This is your Spuds (Potatoes), Sweet Potatoes or Grains like Brown Rice, Brown Pasta or Quinoa. These are great for energy and are vital if you are training regularly. I like to cut the Sweet Potatoes up into Chips and bake them in the oven with Cajun seasoning, tastes great. Again with this section just choose the Carbohydrate you want to go with today to change up your dinner from the night before.

Vitamins & Minerals: This is the biggest section and it is the biggest section for a reason. This is your Vegetables. Again here just choose what ever Vegetables you like to eat, I usually go for Broccoli, Cauliflower, Carrots and Peas but just pick the ones you like and fill up the plate with them. Try different types of Veg out, its all good you cant go wrong. Everyone knows Vegetables are good for you so use these to fill yourself up so that you don’t over eat other types of food.

Calcium: The Glass outside the plate is then used for your calcium… basically a Glass of Milk.  (0% Fat Milk has the same Calcium and Protein content as full fat Milk and it has fewer calories). You can then change this up every now and again if you like and have a glass of juice. Try to stay away from the Fizzy Drinks as often as possible…. If they are not in the house you cant drink them so remember that when doing the shopping.

The idea is simple, its simple to follow, it doesn’t have to always be what you eat for dinner but it can be used as a fall back plan for when you are running out of ideas or if you are like I was and just don’t have a clue what they mean when they say “A Healthy Balanced Meal”.

More information about a Healthy Balanced Diet can be found on these sites

Irish Food Pyramid (Safe Food)

My Plate (USA)  The Eat Well Plate (UK)

My dinner template is based on the advice given by these organisations.

Kind Regards,


Phil Ryan Fitness

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Don’t Diet if you want to lose weight and keep it off!!


The research into this is clear. If you want to lose weight and you want to maintain that weight loss then you will not achieve this by dieting. The research I have seen clearly states dieting has the opposite effect of what you are trying to achieve. It shows that while a person will lose weight initially, they will more often than not end up gaining more weight in the long run. If you think about it logically you can easily see why this is true. The word DIET must have the most negative connotations associated to it. When you think of the word DIET you cant help but associate it with hunger, plain food, boring food, Dry crackers, deprivation, dullness, the phrase “Oh no I shouldn’t I’m on a Diet”, guilt and eventually remorse. Being on a Diet sucks, this is why I don’t think anyone should diet.

I believe that nobody needs to diet, ever. I believe that you simply have to change your diet. When I think of the word Diet, I do not in any way associate it with any of the negative connotations I just spoke about, I see Diet as the food I eat everyday and that is all. The food I eat is my Diet. I try to have a Healthy Diet and any other form of Diet is unhealthy in my opinion. Unhealthy both for your head and for your health.

The reason diets don’t work is because they are designed to not work. Diets are designed to end. Diets have to have an end date. You cannot live the rest of your life on a Diet so do not start one if you have a long-term weight loss goal. You Deprive yourself of the things you like the most to eat food you find boring just so you can lose a few lbs. This is why they cannot work. They have no long-term solution to your problem. When they end you return to eating all the food you really want to eat, the stuff that’s bad for you but because you have been without it for so long and you missed it so much, now you are eating even more of it. This is why the cycle continues and how Yo-Yo dieting starts. Before you know it you are even heavier than when you started. This now plays havoc with your feelings. You are now less motivated to start a new diet as you feel the last one was a waste of time.

Here is the trick to avoiding diets for good and achieving long-term weight loss success.

Analyse your current diet, identify the types of foods in your diet that are unhealthy and that you are eating too much of. Then Cut down on these foods or choose the healthier alternatives. (See my other blog posts for examples. links are below)



The important thing is to try to cut down on the High Sugar, High Fat and High Salt foods in your diet. Once you have decided on the types of food that are unhealthy in your diet and have found alternatives, make sure you try to test out these alternatives. You should only eat food that you like to eat. You shouldn’t eat food you don’t like just because you think it is good for you. The only way you will keep to the changes you are making is if you are enjoying the changes. When you are enjoying the changes you made you are more likely to succeed in the long term.  

Eating healthily doesn’t have to be boring, there is plenty of delicious healthy food out there. You need to educate yourself on the types of foods that are good for you, find the ones you like and simply eat more of these. Eating a healthy diet doesn’t have to mean eating less food, it simply means eating more of the right kinds of food and less of the wrong kinds of food. What ever you do.




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24 Foods you should try to ADD to your diet to help improve Weight loss and Good Health!


Following on from Yesterdays Post:


Today I want to write a list of foods that I Added to my own diet that helped me to lose the weight I wanted to lose but also helped me to maintain that weight loss for three years now. As I said yesterday

I believe that little changes consistently practiced over time is the key to weight loss success.

The idea of today’s post is to give a list of foods to steer towards when you are trying to lose weight. These are the foods that should to be in your shopping trolley every week.

1) Water: Try to drink 2 Litres of Water everyday. It’s essential for a healthy body.

2) Almond Milk: Use as an alternative to milk. It gives a great taste to Porridge and its good for you.

3) Porridge: One of the best breakfasts you can have for slow releasing energy throughout the morning. Making you Less likely to over eat at lunch.

4) Chicken: A great lean meat packed full of Protein. Essential for Training.

5) Nuts: A handful of nuts per day. Almonds and Hazelnuts are my favorite but they are all good as long as they don’t have salt or chocolate on them.

6) Fruit: Get it in to ya! Find your favorite fruits and eat them everyday at breakfast and lunch or as a snack throughout the day. My favorites are Blueberries, Bananas, Apples and Grapes.

7) Vegetables: Again find your favorites and eat plenty of them at dinner time. Broccoli, Cauliflower, Potato, Sweet Potato, Green Beans and Carrots are always on my shopping list.

8) Sweet Potato: Lovely when done in the oven as “Chips” with seasoning on them. Full of good carbohydrates and protein.

9) Quinoa: Use as an alternative to Rice or Pasta. A Super food packed with Protein.

10) Green Tea: Try instead of your morning coffee or tea. Lots of health benefits to Green Tea. It’s a great antioxidant.

11) Passata: Use instead of jar bought pasta sauces. It will reduce the amount of sugar and salt you are getting in your diet. It’s basically finely chopped up tomatoes.

12) Brown Bread IN (Fibre) White Bread OUT

13) Brown Pasta IN (Fibre) White Pasta OUT

14) Brown Rice IN (Fibre) White Rice OUT

15) Nakd Bars: Use as an alternative to snaking on a chocolate bar or sweets.

16) Dark Chocolate: The darker the better but only in small amounts and as an alternative to Milk Chocolate. (A Treat)

17) Eggs: Packed with protein. Two eggs are considered one of your servings of protein for the day.

18) Chocolate Milk: Use instead of Sports Supplements after a workout. Much cheaper. It’s got Protein, Calcium and Carbohydrate for recovery.

19) 0% Fat Milk: Has the same Protein and Calcium content but with less Fat and Calories than Full Fat Milk.

20) Almond Butter: Use for snacking or an alternative to Peanut butter. Very high in Protein. Great post workout snack.

21) Steak: Lean meat, eat instead of Pork or Bacon or other fatty red meats.

22) Salmon: Rich in Omega 3 Fish Oils, Good for Heart Health. Also low in fat as it is a lean meat, leaner than steak or chicken.

23) Reduced Fat Cheese. use small amounts. Some cheese is already sliced into the ideal portion size. Good source of calcium.

24) Yogurt: A good source of Calcium, Try to avoid 0% Fat Free yogurts that are very high in sugar. Be careful as most will be very high in sugar look for Yogurt that has 5g or less Sugar per every 100g.

As I said Yesterday:

All the information I give on this blog is tried and tested by me so you can be assured it will be good solid advice. While I am not a nutritionist, I do have a minor qualification in Nutrition as well as having done this for myself . While I can promise I wont be giving any unproven or bogus advice on this blog it is my advise that you always consult a qualified Nutritionist/Dietitian for any new meal plans you wish to start.

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