This week I am extremely excited to bring you my interview with Scott Brady, alkaline diet expert and personal strength and fitness coach Scott Brady. Scott is the founder of Health 4 NI and has been creating quite a buzz with his ability to get results for his clients quickly and healthily!
I have been in touch with Scott for a while now and we finally met at our Dr Young Live event back in June – and I have to say, this is one guy who clearly knows his stuff and practices what he preaches!
If you are even slightly interested in training, fitness or want to create your dream body then I strongly urge you to read this interview – it is packed with essential information!
Energise Interviews: Ross & Scott Brady
We met up in person at the Dr Young Live event back in June, and you’re a pretty big guy! When did you first get interested in training and how did you start out?
I don’t consider myself to be big. I’m still trying to get bigger!
I was always an active child. I played table tennis for my primary school and later my secondary school. I also took up tennis, reaching county standard in later years, as well as hockey and basketball (despite my lack of height). Plus I played many other sports.
There were two key events that sparked my interest in training away from sports and thus onto lifting weights.
The first was a few trips with my Dad to his local gym when I was about 14. My Dad used mainly the machines, but some free weights. Anyway, I seem to recall being engrossed in what was going on and the physiques that could be moulded by lifting heavy weights and getting stronger. My Dad also had some free weights at home and so at about 15 I started to do some basic stuff in my room. I remember coming home from school and going through a little routine I created that involved squats, press-ups, shoulder presses, curls etc. I also seem to remember doing like 100 sit-ups everyday after school! Funny now when I think about it.
The second was when I started playing basketball for the school team. Our PE teacher and coach wanted to get us all stronger and so he spent a number of lunchtimes teaching us the Olympic lifts and other exercises.
Well, by this time I was hooked and started to train at a local gym 3 times a week with my best mate. Good times.
What were your initial goals back then? Have these changed over the years?
When you’re a 16 year lad lifting weights you just want to get bigger. However, I certainly understood that weight training would help my sports and indeed it did; quite a lot actually.
I did make the classic mistake of focusing on too many biceps and chest exercises. The biggest mistake though was not doing enough lower body work. Shameful now when I think about it.
Ultimately I still want to be bigger. However, rather than worrying to much about that I try to concentrate more of continually getting stronger; which will lead to an increase in muscle size.
I have spent a few years rectifying some of my body’s imbalances with regards to the inferior training I did for many years. You’re only as strong as your weakest link! I think I’ve managed to shore up most of my weak links.
Conditioning and GPP (General Physical Preparedness) is also more relevant now. I’ve realised that there’s no point in being some massively strong beast of a man if you get out of breath walking up stairs. Not that I’ve ever been like that, but neglecting some type of cardio work will affect you in later years. So, activities like tyre flips, sled pulls, prowler pushes, sandbag training etc are brilliant and fun that gets you brutally fit and sheds body fat fast.
Do you set goals now? What is your process? Would you recommend it?
Setting goals is very important. For me it’s all about beating my training log book. Improving on the last session’s weights lifted &/or reps completed with the same weight is vital to achieve my goals; and indeed all of my clients goals. If you can’t make progress with what you do in the gym how do you expect to make progress with your physique, body composition, fitness levels etc.
Everyone should have a training log book where they detail the exercises performed and weights lifted, sets performed, reps made etc. Even if it’s cardio style work then note how long it took you to run x miles or 10 flips of the tyre. Then beat that the next time you train.
Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same over and over again and expecting different results. No-one wants to be insane right!?
So my goals are far more objective driven now. I still want to be bigger, stronger and fitter, and I use the results from my gym training to help me achieve that. For example, I really want to deadlift 3 times my body-weight. Currently at only 70kg that’s 210kg. I recently lifted 2.5 times my body weight with 175kg. My next goal is 182kg (400lbs). After that I want to get 200kg.
One thing that I’ve personally never concentrated much on is getting lean. My intense training sessions, clean nutrition and genetics allow me to remain between 3-5% body fat year round. Not bad for a 32 year old. However, for many people getting your body fat percentage taken on regular intervals is a great motivator and a far better way to establish your current health than BMI and total body weight.
On to nutrition – My belief has always been that the easy work is done in the gym – the hard work is done in the kitchen. What is a typical day’s food and drink for you?
I certainly think that most people could make some amazingly fast results by getting their nutrition sorted at home. I do think that many people still don’t get it right in the gym; but if you train with intensity then you’re well on your way.
First thing I do when I get up is drink 300ml of warm water with fresh lemon juice and a scoop of pHour salts.
I’ll then have 200-400ml of a green drink like MegaGreens about 10mins later.
For breakfast I’ve created my own EnergiseForLife Green Drink (http://www.liveenergized.com/2007/08/23/green-drink-how-green-is-yours/). I tend to add some plant protein powder into it such as Hemp, Rice or Pea protein. I’ll also add blueberries, grapes, ginger, flax seeds, ground almonds… anything I can find in the fridge!
Some mornings I will have my own “Perfect Porridge”
I’ll then have anywhere from 3-5 more “feedings” throughout the day. Examples of what I have include the following foods:
Quinoa, rice (mainly brown basmati & wild rice), buckwheat noodles & pasta, sweet potatoes and oats as my main “traditional” carbohydrate choices.
Sprouted wheat/hemp bread with almond / hazelnut / pumpkin seed butter or maybe some avocado slices and tomatoes are a great snack, with some “good” carbs.
Chickpeas, red kidney beans, azuki beans mixed up into a hummus like consistency added to steamed or gently fried (in coconut oil) vegetables. This is a recipe I got from you and I love it.
I love vegetables and eat even more than ever now. I’m lucky that my in-laws grow their own vegetables and so have recently got lots of cucumbers, scallions, onions, tomatoes and chillies.
I’ll usually have at least one avocado a day. Lots of spinach, watercress, kale, broccoli, tomatoes, lemons, limes, grapefruits. I also like apples, red grapes, blueberries, raspberries & strawberries. I tend to add those into my “Green Drink” in the morning.
I’ve vastly reduced my animal protein intake (especially red meat which I rarely eat now). However, I’ll have 3-4 feedings a week that contain animal protein such as: wild salmon, organic eggs, mackerel/sardines/kippers/cod. I tend to have chicken just once a week now.
My good fat intake is quite high. I’ll typically consume 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (organic &/or unfiltered if possible), 1 tablespoon of organic hemp oil, ½ tablespoon of avocado oil, and a tablespoon of organic virgin coconut oil.
I eat lots of nuts and seeds such as almonds, macadamias, brazils, walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin and sesame seeds.
I’ll consume 3-4 litres of green drinks a day, into which I’ll add some puripHy drops as well as some Himalayan salt. Sometimes I’ll add clay too.
I’ve recently started to have tofu a few times a week. I don’t have much, but enough to add some variety.
You’ve started to apply the principles of the alkaline diet more and more to your life and to your regimes for clients – how did you get into this and where are you up to?
I was first introduced to the acid-alkaline balance in winter 2006 whilst on a training course. Since then I’ve slowly gained more interest in it, and in January 2009 I decided to become far more alkaline. I was also on another course where the instructor spoke a lot about the alkaline lifestyle. I also managed to get over to the Dr Young event that you guys put on over in London in June this year.
Whilst I’ll never say never, I can’t see myself stopping eating animal protein completely. However, as I’ve already mentioned it has been vastly reduced. I feel and look better for it; subjective I know.
I regularly test my urine pH and in the past month or two it has definitely become more consistent in the neutral to alkaline range of 7-8. So I know things are working; and I also know it takes time for the body to become alkaline. Doing this test is really important if you are trying to get healthier with the alkaline approach. It allows you to monitor your current alkaline status with regards to the fluids in your body.
I’m constantly learning about how to apply the principles & practicalities of the (more) alkaline lifestyle. It takes time. But it is worth it.
As you know, I am a vegetarian (alkalarian!) – can I still make decent gains? What would your recommendations be to me given that I don’t eat meat, dairy or eggs?
Sure you can.
Concentrating on the nutritional side of things (assuming you are training right to make gains) I suggest the following:
– 1-2 tablespoons of oil (olive, hemp, avocado, coconut) with each meal.
– 20-40g of hemp, rice &/or pea protein powder after training with some carbs (I like to use organic rice milk as it helps to make the shake taste better)
– 20-40g of plant protein powder with your home-made vegetable green drink in the morning
– Increase your intake of rice, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, sweet potatoes etc
– Lots more nuts and nut butters (not peanuts though)
You basically need to get more plant protein and more good calories into you. Maybe having 2-3 calorie dense Green Drinks would work for you.
A lot of guys who want to start alkalising are worried that they will lose weight – what would your advice be to these guys?
If the weight they lose is fat, then that’s a good thing. And I bet that is what they will lose.
I too had concerns when I first started. However, I’ve lost no muscle (in fact I’ve gained about 2kg of pure muscle in 8 months) and my strength continues to improve in the gym. So I don’t see it as a problem.
People do have to realise though that when you embark down the alkaline path that there are no instant results. It takes time. I personally had a fair amount of detoxing to go through. This may seem bad at first but is the body’s way of riding itself of excess acidity and toxins. This often results in weight loss (mainly fat loss). Once the main part of this is over then you’ll start to feel so much better.
My clients that are on the more alkaline approach have most definitely seen improvements to their overall energy levels, health & wellbeing. Their training improves too as they have more energy in the gym and are making better strength & conditioning gains, which as I’ve already alluded to translates into a better physique.
The problem though, is that eating lots of meat and a high protein diet will lead to muscle gains. You cannot deny this happening as most bodybuilders, powerlifters, weight trainers, weekend warriors etc etc follow this diet and gain lots of muscle. However, the short-to-medium term gains in muscle will massively increase the chances of poor digestive health and diseases occurring within the body (due to acidity that animal protein creates). What if you can gain muscle without massively increasing the chances of getting nasty diseases later on in life? That certainly appeals to me; and indeed to my clients.
And for those who want to lose weight? What are your top tips?
Those wanting to lose excess body fat will do very well on the alkaline diet. The main difference between someone wanting to gain muscle on an alkaline diet and someone wanting to lose body fat would simply be the amount of food eaten during the day; specifically the amount of calories ingested. Carbohydrate and fat intake wouldn’t need to be as high for example.
Get adequate sleep: at least 8 hours.
Drink lots of clean water (with greens in it preferably).
Train with intensity, but for no longer than 45 minutes per session (not including warm-up or cool-down).
I emailed over a couple of typical days from our alkaline diet course. What changes would you make to this if you were looking to stay lean, build muscle and stay energised?
The plan you sent was week 5, which looks excellent at helping to reduce body fat and get alkaline. I would add more carbohydrates such as quinoa, brown rice, buckwheat, millet etc if you want to gain some muscle. These can be added to the morning green shake: I often add cooked quinoa or rice into my morning green shake. Also, adding 20-40g of plant protein into that shake will help. And I’d also say to take more good oils with each meal like olive, hemp, avocado, coconut oil.
What supplements do you personally take, and what is each one for?
- Fish Oil for the omega-3s. This is actually where strict vegetarians lose out as the body finds it difficult to make the omega-3s’ EPA & DHA from plant based sources; but it can be done.
- Multi-mineral & multi-b-complex: this ensures I am fully topped up with minerals & b-vitamins. I believe minerals are probably more important than vitamins; and recent research shows that people are more deficient in minerals than vitamins.
- pHour salts / sodium bicarbonate: extremely powerful at alkalising. I take first thing in the morning. I have also been taking 5g after my training sessions (usually in the evenings) to neutralise all the lactic acid that is in my muscles & tissues. This has worked really well so far.
- Vitamin D3: such an important vitamin for health & wellness, as well as leanness. Looks like it can ward of influenza too!
- Curcumin: this is one of the active ingredients in turmeric. A great anti-oxidant, a very good pain reliever due to its powerful anti-inflammatory properties and according to Dr Young is a great anti-acid.
- Vitamin E (natural forms like gamma, beta & delta): important anti-oxidant in the body. Helps keep omega3s stable in the body too.
- Selenium: very good for detoxification; especially important for me as I had my mercury fillings removed a few months ago.
- Chlorophyll: Dr Young’s liquid formula. Helps build the blood and a powerful alkaliser.
- Green drinks: these help to keep me hydrated and alkaline.
- Plant based protein powders like hemp, brown rice & pea: these help protein
- Creatine: one of the few training supplements that actually works
You work with a heap of clients over in Northern Ireland. What types of clients do you have, and do you apply the principles of alkalising with any of them?
I’ve worked with a number of different clients over the years. People just wanting to lose some excess fat and get fitter, like mums and dads. Also, amateur rugby players (male & female), swimmers, tennis players, snowboaders, windsurfers, golfers, cricketers, motocross riders, and “weekend warriors”; those just wanting to get big and ripped.
I try to get all my clients to consume green drinks and take fish oils. After that I offer nutritional plans that will certainly aid fat loss and increase muscle, whilst being on a more transitional alkaline diet. If a client wanted to go the whole way of being alkaline (no animal products) then I’d help them with that too.
Everyone that takes the green drinks for example reports feeling more energy. I think one of the keys to this is the fact that they are drinking more water. Add in the greens and it “powers it up” to produce an even better result.
I had a female client recently that followed an online nutritional program I sent her. She went from 21% body fat (by no means very fat) to 16% in only 8 weeks. Losing 3.3kg of fat and gaining 1.7kg of muscle. And the biggest surprise to her was the almost disappearance of her cellulite!
I remember talking to you a while ago about different types of protein and you told me you had shifted your thinking from amount of protein to the source of protein. You talked about getting ‘clean’ protein. What does this mean?
As already mentioned I have drastically reduced the amount of animal protein I consume. So whilst I still eat some animal protein, when I do I try to buy the best source available. Organic or at the very least free range, and ideally locally sourced. This is what I believe to be “clean” protein. Little or no pesticides and other nasties. However, I believe that this can also apply to all foods. Thus, it’s best to buy organic vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds, nuts, oils etc where possible.
We sell quite a lot of hemp protein here at energiseforlife.com and Dr Young has recently launched his sprouted hemp protein. What is your opinion on hemp protein as a source of protein?
I think it’s very good. It has all the amino acids, some fibre, lots of minerals and some vitamins, essential fatty acids such as omega-3 & omega-6 and is easy to digest.
I’m very excited about this new sprouted hemp protein powder, as sprouting seems to make the food even more absorbable and greatly improves the amino acid ratios.
How much protein do we really need?
Ah, the million dollar question. This year I’ve completely changed my beliefs on this subject and now think that 0.6 to 0.8 grams per pound of body weight is all you need to gain muscle / recover after training.
I’ve tried the high protein diets and found it made no difference to my recovery or muscle gaining abilities. In fact, I felt worse on such a high protein diet; more bloating and worse digestion.
There are so many different workout routines, suggestions and conflicting information out there on things such as how often to work out, low reps, high reps, rest between sets, mix of cardio to resistance etc. Briefly, what do you personally do and what would you recommend for someone who wanted to lose weight and someone who wanted to gain weight?
To answer that question fully will not be brief. However, I’ll have a go.
Firstly, lifting weights is a must. If you desire a “fit” or “toned” (I hate that word) look, then you have to lift weights. And you must lift heavy; men and women. No pink dumbbells! And no high reps like 25 reps doing dumbbell kickbacks. That will do absolutely nothing.
For a beginner to lifting weights I’d do 3 weight training sessions a week that are full body workouts; a selection of exercises that work upper and lower body muscles. It’s perfectly fine, advantageous in fact, to work the same muscle groups more frequently.
For someone who’s been training with weights for a few years, then 3-4 sessions a week using an upper/lower split or full body split is what I believe to be best.
Keep the session to 45 minutes. That doesn’t include warm-up and cool-down. So, from the very first working set to the last working set, the session should be no more 45 minutes long.
Cardio can be done 2-3 times a week depending on goals. Again, keep it to a maximum of 45 minutes.
I currently lift weights 3 times a week with a full body split. I will also do 1-3 cardio/conditioning/GPP type sessions.
It’s very difficult to blanket statement the number of sets, reps and rest intervals. Beginners do well with slightly more volume, whereas the more advanced trainee seems to get on better with slightly less volume. I also think that 3-5 sets per exercise, with rep ranges from 3-12 work well.
What type of cardio do you recommend?
Unless I have a client that is obese, extremely unfit or recovering from injury/illness, I never use steady-state cardio. It’s boring and is very ineffective at improving fitness levels and reducing body fat.
To improve someone’s conditioning levels and GPP I like to use different types of high intensity interval training methods (a tougher but more effective type of cardio). This can be done in a great many ways: flipping big heavy tyres; pushing a prowler (a big sled); pulling a sled; sprints (especially up hills); boxing; skipping; free-weight complexes; lifting sandbags. There are so many different options available.
OK to wrap up, what are your top three tips for someone wanting to get started on an exercise plan?
You must assess your own health/fitness status before any new exercise plan is started. Maybe consult your doctor if you are worried just to ensure all is ok (like blood pressure levels). Embarking upon more intense types of training without such checks/knowledge is not recommended.
1. Choose a good personal trainer / strength & conditioning specialist to create a good plan and to teach you how to lift correctly. If you’re a member of a gym then watch what the trainers do with their clients. Most of my clients can’t believe how much they enjoy using the free weights, but even using them has to be done safely and effectively. Endless bench presses, dumbbell curls and triceps kickbacks is not fun nor is it effective. Above all, look at the trainer’s physique: if he/she is fit, lean and muscular, then at least they practice what they preach. Also, if the trainer has a high turnover of clients then avoid them!
2. Work hard. This is of course relative to your own strength & conditioning levels. However, most people do not work hard enough. A great way to ensure you continually progress with this intensity is to record all your workouts in a log book. That way you know what you lifted etc last time and you try to beat it this time. It’s a great motivator that really works.
3. Recovery is vital. Eat well, drink lots of water/greens, sleep more. Active recovery like swimming, sauna, massage, foam rollers, even yoga & pilates if that works for you, will all help to make you feel better.
Fantastic – there are so many nuggets of gold in that interview! I don’t know about you but I am off to the gym right now!