Here’s a typical scenario.
You head to the supermarket to get your groceries. You fill your cart, check-off most of the items and finally head to the cold section to get some eggs and milk. When you get there, you’re faced with an isle of eggs of various colors, sizes and labels to choose from. You quickly scan through the different health claims, certification labels and compare prices trying to figure out the best option, and wonder when did buying eggs become so confusing?
Isn’t an egg just an egg? Apparently not these days.
We have brown eggs, white eggs, and even eggs rich in omega-3. Some are labeled “organic”, “all natural”, “free-range” or “cage-free”, and others are “organically fed” or “vegetarian fed”. Some have yellow yolks while others are bright orange.
What do all these labels and colors mean and ultimately, which one is the best?
When nutrition becomes too confusing, always go back to basics. This means, look for eggs that come from chickens that eat what they’re supposed to eat, move the way they’re supposed to move, and be raised, treated, and slaughtered humanely.
Brown or white shells make no difference. The color of the shell and yolk vary with the breed but the color of the yolk also ranges with the hen’s diet.
So What Are Chickens Supposed to Eat?
Before genetically modified corn and soy became the staple feed for most mass-produced animals, chickens are naturally supposed to forage in a pasture, dig for grubs, insects, worms, and seeds and eat wild grasses.
Chickens can also hunt other animals like frogs, mice and snakes too! (Did you know?) Pasture-raised eggs are in line with how nature intended it and are obviously more nutritious for us too.
So how and where do we find these eggs? Let’s examine the labeling terms more closely…
By definition, the egg laying hens are given organic feed, must have access to the outdoors and are not given antibiotics.
However, these guidelines don’t guarantee the best quality eggs.
Most mass-produced chickens are given manufactured “organic feed” that contain corn, soy and other grains, which is not the natural diet of a chicken. Also, having access to the outdoors does not guarantee that the chickens ever go outside or have access to green pasture. These may be better than conventional factory farmed eggs, but the best choice is still to find truly pasture-raised eggs.
More on that later.
I laugh when I see this label on eggs. I mean, aren’t all eggs, even the mass-produced ones that come from antibiotic-pumped hens, naturally laid?
This term has no meaning whatsoever except to make consumers believe that the chickens are healthier than what – “un-natural” artificial eggs?
Don’t be fooled in thinking that “all natural” is providing you with better quality eggs. It’s just a marketing and sales gimmick.
“Allowed access to the outside” is how the USDA defines free-range.
This means that there needs to be a door on the cage or shed to the outdoors but the chickens can still eat substandard food and live in cramped conditions. The term “range” can also vary from being a real green pasture to a small patch of concrete or dirt.
Unfortunately, most mass-produced “free-range” chickens never even venture outside because they typically aren’t allowed to leave the shed until they’re a few weeks old and by then they have grown accustomed to the indoors.
This just means that the hens don’t live in cages.
It doesn’t mean that their living conditions or feed are any better than the other overcrowded hen houses. Again, this doesn’t give much indication about the quality of the egg.
Many people buy those cardboard boxed eggs from the supermarket thinking that their eggs are “organic”. “Organic fed” eggs are not to be mistaken with certified organic eggs.
This just means that the hens are given organic feed that is free from pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics and genetic modification.
It does not ensure that the chicken has access to the outdoors and is free from antibiotics. It also doesn’t ensure that they are being fed a high quality diet the way nature intended.
Chickens are omnivores, not vegetarians. The term vegetarian probably evokes images of a happy chicken pecking away in a grass-filled pasture making consumers believe that it’s healthier for them but in actuality, it’s a better indication that the egg is an industrial product.
Due to the increased consumer demand for more omega-3 sources, even egg producers have jumped on the bandwagon and are feeding hens flax, linseed or an omega-3 supplement.
However, plant-based omega-3’s (ALA) are only converted into EPA and DHA in very small amounts so these eggs aren’t really a good source of omega-3. And due to the fragile nature of omega-3 fats, these eggs are more perishable than non-omega-3 eggs.
In my opinion, if you’re looking to get more sources of omega-3, consider eating more fish or supplementing with krill oil which are far better sources of essential fats than eggs.
To be in good health, not only do we need to concern ourselves with what we eat, but also what our food eats. Clearly, the best choice is to find a local farm that offers organic pasture-raised chicken eggs.
I purchase my eggs from Greenheart Organic Farms here in the UAE. They have always been very honest and transparent about their farming methods and practices earning my trust in them.
Otherwise, your next best options would be organic, cage-free, free-range eggs. The added cost might be difficult to swallow at first, but your long-term health is worth the price.
For sure you’ll raise a lot of eyebrows, and roll even more eyeballs, if your health and fitness studio’s tagline is “We Know Gyms Don’t Work; We Are Not a Gym”, but up-and-comer BARE in Dubai only looks hipster, we promise, and their concept has a great argument.
The “Anti-Gym” is that place in town where fitness is treated like a lifestyle and not just an after-work hobby. They don’t like stocky, static fitness equipment and instead try to really put your body to work as both man and machine with very little accessory (that way you really know how to use it properly for the rest of your life).
You can identify an “anti-gym” by how much time members increasingly spend there, staying on after training to shower, catch up on work emails over in-house organic coffee, shakes, eats and complimentary wifi at the communal table; and learning about the new ways of ‘living well’ body, mind and even business from “wellness coaches”, not “personal trainers”.
BARE is guilty of being such a place. If you stroll past its all-glass façade in Downtown Dubai, you’ll identify an eye-catchingly sparse Scandinavian design, and a general lack of exercise equipment. BARE is minimalistic to the point where even the logo on their front door has intentional bits missing in it.
But we spent an evening there getting to know the gang and soon realised that it’s not all just done up to meet the trendsetting boutique needs of the Downtown area.
What stuck out most was that they are one of the few fitness clubs willing to scream the truth at you – that results are best achieved based on a 30 per cent exercise/ 70 per cent nutrition model programme (which we’ve heard before but always just nod our heads at, right?).
“BARE from the very beginning started based on evidence that a lot of people who train are not getting the results they’re after,” says Club Manager Josefine Wallstromer.
“The training part of fitness is easy – people come in and do what you tell them to do… people will always be training; but BARE founder Dylan Eiffe knows that what people really need help with is nutrition. All the hard work is for nothing if you’re not fuelling your body correctly.”
We definitely offer that feeling of community – Wallstromer
Alongside noticeboards and projectors announcing a new CrossFit/HIIT training-style WOD (Workout of the Day), are those scribbled with additional helpful tips, recipes and reminders grouped under the headings: Eat, Train and Learn, emphasizing Eiffe’s desire to properly educate and integrate members.
“Those who sign up as a member of course receive a thorough consultation, including an InBody Scan and discussion and guidance on their personal goals, as well as tailor-made meal plans to fit what they’re after,” says Wallstromer.
Their feel-good ‘Eat Bare’ meal plans feature an attractive selection of real, balanced low-glycemic foods known to optimise health, performance and metabolism. And on top of BARE HQ being stocked with local healthy drinks and treats too, everyone is further connected and communicated with through an inter-club app. Part of their mission statement really got to the heart of the awesomeness of the “anti-gym”, and we’re all on board.
It said: “Being left to our own devices is being replaced by being part of a community. Above all else, people are having fun rather than dragging themselves through workouts, which means they keep training, and they train better; which means they are finally getting results.”
Wallstromer agrees, and adds:
“We definitely offer that ‘vibe’, that feeling of community. I mean, we know people can go do any kind of training anywhere, so we put some emphasis on creating an experience for our clients too. We offer the same sorts of stuff, but how we deliver it is what’s unique.
“Our members are all becoming friends, with the coaches too, and they are coming more regularly, and we all just have a really good time together.”
Where: Retail 2, Clover Bay Tower, Al Abraj St., Dubai
When: Open daily with early classes from 7am, and last classes kicking off from 8pm
Pricing: Drop-In class rates are available for Dh100 a session, but it is understandably more beneficial to become a member, reasonably priced at Dh800 a month (excl. Dh400 set-up fee) and that allows you access to all of the above.
Contact: www.bare.fitness | +9714 558 4720 / +971 50 639 3496 | [email protected]
Let’s imagine you have gotten off to a good start and you are all set to hit the gym hard with your fitness stats and SMART goals at the ready. Since you are probably paying a pretty penny for your membership and trainer you should be getting the best, most efficient and most importantly the best exercises for your health and goals.
A large proportion of people have fairly sedentary jobs, which means over time there can become several structural imbalances within the body. Generally, the glutes become weak, the anterior hip muscles become tight, the core switches off and there is a rounding of the upper shoulders, among other issues. Every trainer has their own style, energy, and personality and you will definitely see different trainers who have ‘their exercises’ that they will believe are the best, but if you are a desk jockey or relate to some of the above issues make sure you avoid the following exercises, like the plague.
This machine you will find in most gyms around the world. A popular machine for the ladies as the machine is meant to target the hip abductors (obviously) such as the glute med. This muscle plays a very important role in stabilising the hip, knee and ankle during daily activities like walking, running and going up and down the stairs. Now here’s the thing when you sit down and your hip is at 90 degrees the piriformis muscle also becomes a hip abductor. This muscle is associated with sciatica due to its proximity to the sciatic nerve and using this machine can ramp up the tension in this muscle and can flare up any previous existing problems or start a brand new one.
My advice: If you want to hit those hip abductors without engaging the piriformis try; Clams, Monster walks or Sumo walks.
This exercise is from the old school bodybuilder’s library for the obliques. If you are not too familiar with this exercise then you hold a weight in one hand and flex your torso to the side.
There are two big issues with this exercise. Firstly most people don’t have the flexibility in the thoracic spine or upper shoulders to sufficiently perform this, which usually means increased pressure on the lumbar vertebral discs. The thing about the human body is that it is task orientated. Meaning if you have the desire to do something the body will do its best to complete the task, even if it means not doing it correctly. So when you flex and pinch down on one side the lack of mobility in the upper back means the lower back has to flex further to complete the task. Excessive use of this movement will only end you up on the physio bed before too long with some lower back or lumbar disc issue. Secondly the core muscles are not designed to move the same as the global or glamour muscles of the body like the biceps and pectorals. In fact they are anti-movers, meaning they are designed to stabilse the spine so forces can be transmitted between the upper and lower limb like during a golf swing or round house kick.
My advice: To hit the oblique’s and core try; farmers walk, wood chop and plank variations.
The quadriceps are four main muscles at the front of the leg and one of them in particular (Rectus Femoris) crosses both the hip and the knee. Because of this its gets tight easily when in the seated position for too long. Now building quadriceps strength is important especially the vastus medialis oblique (VMO) when recovering from knee injuries such as a meniscus tear or patellofemoral pain. The issue with the leg extension machine firstly is that it has the potential to tighten up that Rectus Femoris even further, which in turn can pull pelvis forward and lead to a deep arch in the back especially when you add having weak bum muscles too. Also this machine places increased anterior shear force and pressure on the knee, which is the primary mechanism injury risk to the ACL ligament and not to mention the fact this exercises has no real functional benefit. There are a lot of quadriceps exercises that works much more efficiently to help stabilse and strengthen the quadriceps and knee.
My advice: Want healthy knees and big quads try; ski sits, lunges, squats and split squats.
Oh look another machine, this time the lat pulldown. When performed correctly (bar to top of chest) the lat pulldown machine is good exercise in developing the mid/upper back. There is even some benefit to doing behind the neck pull down, but as mentioned before the main issue with this exercise is few individuals possess the flexibility to perform it properly. When performing the behind-the-neck pulldown you must externally rotate your shoulders as much as possible, which places your shoulders and the rotator cuff muscles in a precarious position. The rotator cuff group is your main shoulder stabilisers and repetitive use of this exercise can lead to an over use injury such as an impinged shoulder. Also due to the lack of flexibility it is likely you will bend the neck forward to do the movement which can also lead to compression and shear forces on the vertebrae. Definitely one for the exercise bin!
My advice: Want strong a strong back try; Pull up and chin up variations and inverted rows.
The benefit of stability ball training has become a bone on contention in the fitness industry of late and there are grounds for each side of the argument. Some of the exercises can help proprioceptive feedback to an area of the body after an injury. However some exercises have more place in the circus than in the gym, and none more so than the stability ball squat. This exercise is dangerous and requires you to stand on top of a stability ball whilst performing a squat. If your aim is to impress someone in the gym then great, but the reality is this exercise has no benefit in improving lower body strength and places increased stress to the ankle and knee ligaments, even more so when you see someone doing this with weight! If your SMART goal is to train for maximal size or strength, stick with squatting with your feet firmly on the ground so that you can benefit from pushing a reasonable weight. Any benefits that might result from stability ball squats aren’t worth the decrease in the load you’ll be able to handle and the potential danger you place yourself in.
My advice: Want to squat properly try; Back squats and front squats (with weight!)
There are pros and cons to pretty much all exercises out there, some have more than others and some have no cons at all. They say some exercise is better than no exercise, but if you find yourself doing the above anytime soon with your trainer run if you still can!
James is master trainer at Talise Fitness based at the iconic Jumierah Beach Hotel. He gained his MSc in Sport Rehabilitation from St Marys Twickenham and has 10 years of fitness industry experience behind him and lives by two ideals: ‘Don’t dream of success, get up and work hard at it’ and ‘If it doesn’t challenge you it won’t change you’.
TaliseFitness can help you achieve your fitness goals. Join one of their clubs at Emirates Towers, Madinat Jumeirah or Jumeirah Beach Hotel. For more info, visit TaliseFitness.com