Episode highlights

02:25 – Gut health and how it affects the rest of the body

05:20 – The ketogenic diet

07:29 – Food is medicine

08:47 – DNA testing and what it reveals about your nutrition needs

11:22 – Sleep and the importance of sleep for your wellbeing

14:13 – Incorporating swimming into your fitness schedule

16:45 – All about breathing techniques with breathwork

19:06 Food nutrition with the medicinal chef

22:36 – How to fit cycling into your fitness routine

24:04 – The healing power of turmeric

25:28 – Why dads need timelines and deadlines

26:42 – From invalid to Ironman

27:58 – Kids nutrition and tips for preparing school meals

30:41 – Using AI for reduced exertion, high-intensity training

34:05 – Over to you: we welcome your feedback and participation

34:49 – New year, new website, new resources


Fitness Guide



Welcome to the Fitter Healthier Dad podcast where you can learn how to improve your diet, lose fat and get fitter in a sustainable and fun way, without spending hours in the gym. Here is your host, Darren Kirby.

Darren: This is Episode 25 of the Fitter Healthier Dad podcast and in today’s show, we’re going to be doing a review of 2019. 2019 was the first year of the Fitter Healthier Dad podcast and we’ve got some amazing episodes that I just wanted to go over and recap for some of you who may have only just discovered the podcast, and who have maybe missed some episodes.

But first of all, I wanted to really thank everybody who’s downloaded, who has listened to the podcast, who has sent me direct messages and left reviews on the various podcast platforms like iTunes. It really does mean a hell of a lot to me, and I don’t say that lightly.

I started Fitter Healthier Dad back in 2018, just based off of a sheer passion and desire to really help guys like me, essentially, who have maybe kind of struggled with our weight or have been lacking in energy and motivation. Really, it’s just to dispel the kind of myths that are out there in the health and fitness space and provide simple information that guys like us can implement in and around their busy careers and their family lives. And I couldn’t be more pleased with how it’s gone and I’m really pleased that you guys like the content that I put out.

It’s an opportunity for you guys as well to message me, to tell me what you would like to hear more of, what you would like to hear less of, if there’s a specific topic you would like to cover. In 2020, my intention is to get more of you guys onto the podcast itself to basically talk about challenges or things that you need help with, really, so that I can connect with you more on a closer level and on a one-to-one basis.

So, the year that was 2019 with the Fitter Healthier Dad podcast. We started off (and) the first ever podcast was around gut health. I highly encourage you to go back over to Episode #1 if you’ve not heard it. I talked with a gut health specialist who is Naomi Langford Archer. Gut health has been a very big theme in the fitness and nutrition space and just in the wider health space now. There is so much more information and research which has come to light which has shown that the connection between our guts and our brains and the rest of our body is so, so important.

At a very high level, essentially what we’re saying is that everything that goes into our gut affects the rest of the body, particularly what goes on with the brain, your energy, your mood, how you feel, how you respond, how you react. It is such a huge part and I decided towards the end of last year–beginning of this year, that I was going to have my own gut tested. Now, I’ll be quite honest. It’s not a pleasant process: digging and taking samples of your poo is not the best thing that I’ve ever done, but the results that I got from it were quite insightful, really.

One of the other big areas which is slowly coming to light more and more is inflammation in the body. I’m not going to go into that now but what my test showed me is that my body was in an inflamed state. With all of this information that we get from the gut health test, it can tell us what we need to do to reduce inflammation, what bacteria we have in our guts. I found that I had a high amount of yeast in my stomach which meant that when I ate specific foods, it would ferment in my stomach, giving me gas which is obviously not ideal.

But it’s really, really quite profound and it’s really one of these things that we can use to be a lot more proactive in our health and this is an area which I’m hugely passionate about. And I’ve got something coming, hopefully towards the end of 2020, which is going to enable us to really pay a lot more attention proactively to our health. So that was Episode #1.

We then talked with Anthony Benedettini from Perfect Keto, we talked about a ketogenic diet. Now I say this again, I’ve said it before, I’m never a big advocate of following a specific diet. I think they all have their pluses and minuses and it’s about following a nutrient-dense diet or food eating pattern, whatever you want to call it. There’s definitely no “one size fits all.” I know Dale Pinnock who I had on the podcast kind of ripped me a little bit about that in Episode 14 because he didn’t agree that there isn’t “one size fits all,” but there isn’t. And that’s been proven in our guts, with the microbiome in our guts which is all unique to us. It’s like our gut fingerprint if you like.

The ketogenic diet, for those of you who don’t know, is about following a high fat diet now. Particularly if you’re based in the UK, you know that the NHS and the Health Service will advise us against going down a high fat diet. The high fat side of things is very specific and what that doesn’t mean is that you can go out and eat a load of takeaways, and all the rest of it. Fats are good, but only good fats. So we’re talking about things like Omega−3 fats which are found in things like avocado, in nuts, in fish like salmon and things like that. Those are good fats that we need in our diet.

One of the main reasons we need a lot of fat in our diet is our brain is 60% fat, so it fuels your brain. The ketogenic diet, or what I like to call being fat-adapted, is a good protocol to follow. But again, it’s definitely about having balance.

So then I was very fortunate in Episode #7 to have Dr Rupy from The Doctor’s Kitchen who advocates “food as medicine,” and I wholeheartedly agree with Dr Rupy. He’s a doctor so why wouldn’t I agree with him? But he’s very much about how we can be more proactive in our general health and how we can use food in becoming a lot more proactive. Now, Dr Rupy is a huge figure in this whole world of “food as medicine.” He’s a practicing doctor as well as running The Doctor’s Kitchen. He’s got some great books as well which I’ve got a link over to on the resources part of the Fitter Healthier Dad website. He’s got some great books which I use, actually, to create some of my meals because the ingredients are very easy to get a hold of and they’re very quick and easy to make. And they are delicious, nutrient-dense food, which is obviously something that is very important for us to follow. So, yeah, have a listen to Episode #7.

Then we go on to Episode #9, skip one, and I had the privilege of interviewing Angela Foster who is a high performance coach and is very big into DNA testing; this was also another test that I had done this year. And what DNA testing provides us is almost like a footprint or a roadmap into the DNA of our bodies. It tells us things like how reactive we are to alcohol, how reactive we are to coffee, what is the best diet for our DNA. In my example, it was to follow a Mediterranean diet which means a lot of fish, freshwater fish and vegetables, and oil–olive oil–which again is a good fat.

I’ll put a little caveat around olive oil in that its molecular structure changes when you cook with it. So it’s not always advisable to use olive oil for cooking if you’re doing high temperatures; it’s good in low temperatures and it’s also good to have it raw on your salads. But yeah, Angela is on another level in terms of performance fitness and health and she obviously has her own business and practice as well where she coaches people at high performance level. DNA testing is a protocol which she uses in order to obviously determine how clients are operating or what they’re susceptible to or what they need. It also gives you whether or not you are gluten intolerant and things like that.

The price of DNA testing is coming down significantly now; I guess it’s volume, isn’t it with all of these things? A lot more people are starting to use DNA testing to find out about their own DNA and there’s multiple products out there from DNAfit to Circle DNA to 23andMe from Google. So yeah, I highly recommend that you go over to Episode 9 on the podcast part of the website and we’ve got all the show notes there which at the bottom has all of the links to some of these DNA testing sites and also to Angela’s website.

And then on to Episode 10 where I had Lily Soutter who is a wellness kind of coach who is a workplace wellness practitioner. But Lily again is similar to Dr Rupy in that she is a fully qualified medical practitioner. And when I had Lily on the show, we were talking about sleep and the importance of sleep. This is really, really interesting and I know a lot of you with young children probably would love to focus on your sleep and would love to be able to get eight hours sleep a night!

Some of the stuff that we were talking about in the episode was around how we can enhance our sleep. So things like not having caffeine after 2 pm in the afternoon and also staying away from blue lights–blue light is a light that’s emitted from screens, so that’s phones, laptops, iPads, TVs, all the rest of it–at least an hour before you go to sleep. Using things like magnesium sprays which can enhance our sleep, and I use that personally and that puts me into a really nice deep sleep.

So we get your deep sleep. There’s various different levels of sleep so we were talking to Lily about the benefits of that and the negative impacts of sleep as well that can happen if you’re sleep deprived. You know, your body will naturally start to crave fats, it will start to crave sugars, and this is why when you are sleep deprived, you’ll go for sugary snacks, you’ll obviously go for coffee as a “pick me up” because coffee is a stimulant. And we talk about all of the negative impacts that it can have, particularly on concentration as well. If we are sleep deprived, it can have up to a 50% impact on our concentration levels. So, yeah, we were talking about how important it is to try and focus on sleep.

We were then into about July, funnily enough, and we then went into specific elements around fitness. For those of you that are not familiar, I cover four disciplines which I found really gives you an all-around balanced level of fitness. That’s swimming, cycling, running and then strength training.

In July, we had Brenton Ford from Effortless Swimming who is a former professional swimmer–I don’t think he went to the Olympics but I think he got quite close–and Brenton is based out in Australia. We were going through how people can incorporate swimming into their daily fitness schedule. Now, I know a lot of what I do is based around the fact that you don’t need to go to the gym but obviously, unless you’re fortunate enough to have a swimming pool in your house, you would need to do that.

But we were talking about various different levels of swimmers. Getting started, improving your swimming, and also how you fit that into your schedule. One of the things that I like to promote–particularly those of you who have young children and they have swimming lessons, as many of them do now–you can fit in your swimming training around their swimming lessons. When they’re in the pool with their instructor, you can jump in the other side of the pool and crack on with your swimming session.

On the Facebook page, I’ve got a little infographic you can use which is what I call a pyramid set, and I quite like this nice little set. 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how proficient you are in swimming, but basically what it starts off with is you just do it. You do a 100-metre warm up and then you go up some pyramids. You do 100 metres, rest for 30, 200 metres, rest for 30, all the way up to 400, and then you do a 100-metre cooldown. That’s a nice starter swimming session.

And then we were talking about technique in swimming. Swimming is very technical but it’s very low in impact on the body because obviously you’re suspended in water. But it does use a lot of muscles throughout the entire body from your core, to your back muscles, to your arm muscles, to your leg muscles with the kicking. So I really do advocate using swimming as part of your fitness regime if you are able to get to a pool local to you.

And then we go into September, Episode #12 with Richie Bostock. Richie is a breathwork coach and I found this quite amusing actually, when I was doing this episode because when you talk to a lot of people about breathing and breathwork, they give you such a weird look. They think you’re absolutely crazy because we make the assumption that we breathe daily, so, why would we ever need to focus on breathing and breathwork? It’s a good question, really, but obviously breathing is key to us staying alive: it’s really, really important that we do breathe.

But by consciously focusing on your breath and doing what we call breathwork, for me, it’s been very profound in so much as when you are consciously breathing, you’re able to cope with stressful situations in a much more responsive manner as opposed to reacting. It’s also good to teach children how to breathe properly. Many of us, as we grow up, we tend to breathe in ways that we just habitually developed, whereas consciously breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth is a really good way of getting some good oxygen in and expelling out all the carbon dioxide. And just really clears and clarifies your mind, particularly if you’re in a stressful situation, if you’re maybe having challenges at work or you’re having challenges at home. Just doing a bit of breathwork can really calm you down, calm the body down, take you out of this fight or flight mode or stress mode where the body’s producing a lot of cortisol. It really can enable us to approach things in a much more measured and responsive way.

That leads us on to Dale Pinnock, the medicinal chef. I was very pleased that Dale agreed to come on to the show. We were talking about the subject of nutrition and how it fundamentally affects our overall health and wellbeing. Dale has been in the food and nutrition industry for over 25 years, he’s a Sunday Times bestselling author, so he’s very qualified to talk on the subject of nutrition. He also has courses now where you can go and learn about the subject of nutrition in a lot more depth. I really encourage people that are serious about changing their health to really focus on nutrition because for me, it was quite profound. In so much as, up until about six, seven years ago, I hadn’t concentrated on nutrition because I thought that I could actually train out any negative impacts on my diet when you actually can’t.

I now, in the 90-day programme I have, I focus on nutrition first. For the first two weeks, all we do is focus on nutrition because that will have–particularly if it’s fat loss and weight loss, which is your goal–that will have quite a big impact, just focusing on that for the first two weeks. Again, kind of like the breathwork, we do unconsciously follow eating habits that we’ve picked up as we’ve gone through life. That’s not to say that they’re bad, but there’s nothing like becoming a bit more aware and conscious on what you’re eating.

Not only that: where your food comes from is very, very important. What I mean by that is around processed and packaged food. I really would advocate staying away from that if you can. Because the challenge with it is–and this is not a dig at the food providers; they’re obviously just providing the service–in order for these products to have their shelf life, they have to put preservatives and additives in. And like I was saying around the gut health, you don’t want that kind of stuff in your gut because it just affects the balance of your gut flora, which is (the) healthy bacteria in your gut and ultimately that will affect how you feel, how you move.

Dale is obviously very, very qualified in that area and we were talking about various different topical diets because obviously veganism is a big thing at the moment, and we were talking about high fat like I did with the guys from Perfect Keto. Again, Dale’s approach is to follow a nutrient-dense diet, have balance, have the rainbow plate where you’ve got a mixture of different colours on your plate because that would indicate different nutrients in food, which is very important to get, that variety in your diet. So that was Episode 14.

In Episode 15, we went into specific techniques and we were talking to Tim Ramsden on the art of cycling. In that episode, we were talking–much like the swimming episode–on your real novice cyclists up to the intermediate cyclists, and also how you fit in cycling into your fitness routine. There’s many different ways you can do it now and you don’t necessarily have to go outside for three or four hours on a bike. There are very inexpensive static trainers you can set up at home in the garage or in the conservatory, and put your bike on there and just cycle there for an hour.

I also made a big point on that episode of talking about interval training because I’m a very big supporter of interval training. That’s where you’re doing high intensity for short periods of time; that’s really good for your aerobic and anaerobic capacity. That was a great episode to talk with Tim about cycling.

Then we move on to Episode 17 and this was a very, very fascinating interview with Thomas Hal Robson who is a Premiership football player in the UK. But actually, at the age of 15 or 16, I think it was, he was told by a doctor (that) due to his condition, he would never ever become a professional football player, just because of his joints and his joint pain. Thomas together with his father developed a product from turmeric and he’s now known as The Turmeric guy and he’s developed a company called The Turmeric Co.

As a result of that, Thomas, with the formulation that he created with his father, was able to not only start playing football again, but was actually able to get to the dizzy heights of becoming a professional Premiership football player, which is no mean feat. His product now is being used by the English rugby team, some Premiership football teams, and it’s an amazing product but equally an amazing story. I highly recommend that you go over and listen to Episode 17.

Then I did my first solo podcast in Episode 19 which was “Dads Need Timelines and Deadlines.” Really, it was to highlight the fact that there’s no point in just going out there and randomly training or exercising. We need to set ourselves timelines as to when we’re going to do it, so maybe booking it in the diary. Either entering ourselves into events or putting a milestone in a calendar as to when we’re going to achieve a certain level of fitness or a certain weight by a certain time. By doing all of that, it keeps us on track and we are able to check in and review our progress. Because otherwise, if you don’t do stuff like that, as I didn’t for 15 years, you’ve got no idea what you’re doing, you do everything ad hoc and so therefore, you’re highly unlikely to get results. So yeah, that’s a great episode and I highly recommend that you go over and listen to that or re-listen to it.

And then we had in Episode 20, we had a lady called Raya Hubbell who was a professional Canadian downhill skier until she had an accident which took her 10 years to recover from. But actually, she went through a little bit of a similar transformation like myself where she went from overweight to doing Ironman. Her story is very interesting and she talks about the challenges that she had with balancing her training with a corporate career in the City of London, and to now quite becoming a successful Ironman–or Iron Lady. Actually, just after we recorded the interview, she went out to Ironman Argentina where she actually came third in her race; she actually got a podium spot, which was really amazing to see. She’s got a great story, so I recommend you going over and listening to that.

And then we get into December where we were talking with two ladies, Jenna and Yasmin from the Yoghurt & Juice Network, and they’ve got an amazing story. Essentially, they were both trained in the world of nutrition, were friends and parted company, but then came back together later on in life when they’d both had children. They were basically frustrated by the choices and the types of foods that are out there in the marketplace for children, and particularly how we expect children to perform at a certain level and yet we’re not providing them with the right nutrition in order for them to perform at that level.

Jenna and Yasmin have created this amazing Yoghurt & Juice Network to basically help and support schools and parents to educate them in the subject of nutrition. But also to give them some really simple but easy to use information to implement, not only into their diets but to their children’s diets. These two ladies have a real big mission and I’m excited to see where they take it.

Kids’ nutrition is a huge topic for me personally because, obviously, of my two boys but I truly believe that we are falling short of where we need to be in order to make sure that our children have the right nutrition. What I would like to say on this, though, is that it’s very, very hard for parents and teachers and all the rest of it, to ensure that they understand nutrition and also make sure that kids have the right nutrient-dense food. With all the general pressures in life of keeping a family together, keeping a home together and careers, it’s difficult and I understand why parents take the easy route to provide their kids with food. I’m not knocking that, but I think what these ladies are doing is they’re trying to come out and help us parents and schools and saying, “look, there is another way, there is another alternative and it doesn’t need to take hours out of your day and you don’t need to stress about it.” So yeah, looking forward to seeing what’s coming from these ladies in 2020.

Finally, at the time recording this, the final one for 2019, we were talking to Ulrich Dempfle from CAR.O.L AI. Now this is fascinating. I’ve actually used this product. The product they’ve created essentially looks like a standard spin bike that you get maybe in a gym or a spin studio. But what they’ve done is they’ve actually applied AI. AI, for the those of you that don’t know, is artificial intelligence. It’s basically a computer which takes in a lot of data and it is able to analyse it and look at patterns and apply outcomes to patterns.

What they’ve done is they’ve developed a system whereby you can get the same effects of a 45-minute spin bike workout by just doing 40 seconds of work. Now, I actually mentioned this to somebody a few weeks ago and they looked at me and said, “Nah, you’re talking rubbish. You’re talking nonsense.” But if you listen to the episode, Ulrich will explain exactly how it works. Essentially, it’s using AI to learn patterns over time and basically it then applies it to your workout without you needing to do anything. It’s pushing your body to its absolute limits for two 20-second stints.

The whole workout takes just under nine minutes. You have a warm up, you then have a 20-second first stint, AI then learns where you are in terms of power and cadence and all the rest of it. You then have another break and then you do your final 20 seconds. The carbohydrate depletion in your muscles is between 25 to 35%, which is massive for that short period of time and that’s equivalent to the same kind of depletion you’d get if you used to do 45-minute spin workouts. It’s very much along the lines of the One Peloton bikes if you’ve seen One Peloton. Obviously, as we all struggle for time, being able to get that workout in nine minutes is amazing and I think it’s a great product. It’s still very much in its infancy in terms of market share, but I think I can see this taking off in quite a significant way.

That was really the summary of all the people that we had on the show. There are those that I didn’t go into, so feel free to go back over the directory and have a look. Again, I would really appreciate any kind of feedback or comments or reviews on iTunes. It just goes to help me provide the content that you want to hear, you want to see, you want to listen to. Like I said, I really appreciate your support over this last year with the podcast.

I really enjoy speaking to the guests on the podcast and like I said previously, I want to get some of you guys, the listeners, on the show as well in 2020 so that we can either coach you one-to-one or answer specific topics and questions that you might have around specific areas of fitness and nutrition. It could also be other things like timing: how you fit timing, planning your workouts, or if there’s maybe specific events you want to train for: we can talk about that on the show.

Also coming in 2020–at the time recording this, it is the 30th of December and we have our new Fitter Healthier Dad branding and website going live at midnight on the 1st of January 2020. I’m super excited for that because it’s a much better website, it’s much clearer, concise, you’re able to get access to all of the information in a much clearer way. I’ve got a lot of free stuff on there, from a four-step free fat burning guide, and then I’ve got a 12-minute HIIT workout and that’s on a one page PDF. The objective of that, you can have it on your phone, you can take it wherever you’re going to do your workout and it’s also got illustrations of the exercises that you need to do, so you know how you need to do them.

And then I’ve also got a five-day food and fitness challenge, where when you sign up every day for five days, you get an email with a food challenge. That could be either changing something in your diet or a particular recipe you can try, and then there’s a 12-15 minute HIIT workout and that’s for five days. There’s also some accountability in there as well.

As many of you know, I also do one-to-one coaching but I’m going to be cutting that down in 2020 and not taking on so many people, so that I’m able to provide you guys with a lot more content on the YouTube channel. I’m also going to be launching a livestream programme where you guys can sign up and there will be a load of workout videos for you to do on the livestream channel.

Yeah, super exciting stuff coming for 2020; I’m really excited to get started and give you guys a lot more information, content in a more simplified and easy, accessible way. That just leaves me to say thank you very much again, thank you for your support, and I look forward to seeing you and hearing you all again in 2020. Happy New Year, guys!

Thanks for listening to the Fitter Healthier Dad podcast. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please hit subscribe, and I would really appreciate it if you could leave a review on iTunes. All the links mentioned in the episode will be in the show notes and a full transcription is over at FitterHealthierDad.com.