Bench, Bench, Bench

squat

An exercise program that is too chest dominant can create a muscle imbalance that could be responsible for a rotator cuff injury that limits the function of the shoulder. In addition to bringing a load directly down on the chest while the scapulae are being held in place by a bench puts a tremendous amount of force on the anterior capsule of the shoulder, sitting at a computer for hours a day without the best posture can already place your shoulder and chest muscles in a shortened, weakened position that greatly enhances the risk of injury.

Except for competitive athletes, the amount of weight you can bench press is irrelevant to improving his quality of life as you age. If you only have a limited amount of time, the best way to get results is to make exercise as efficient and effective as possible, using movements that involve a number of muscles simultaneously. The body burns 5 calories to consume 1 litre of oxygen; therefore, the more muscles used during a workout, the more oxygen used and the more calories are expended. The following exercises can help increase lean muscle mass, improve definition and burn calories, and should be a part of every guy’s exercise program.

So when training, you should make sure you use the following exercises in your weekly workouts.

Squats and Deadlifts

The only difference between these two exercises is where the resistance is placed: on the body for a squat or picking a weight from the floor for a deadlift. Either way, squatting with resistance involves a lot of muscle mass, which means burning more calories during the exercise. An additional benefit of squatting or deadlifting is that each exercise requires you to maintain a strong, stable spine using abdominal bracing to strengthen the core muscles that help with the appearance of a flat stomach. It’s important to squat with good form so before you step under a bar or pull from the floor, start by learning the movement with goblet squats. A goblet squat involves holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in front of the chest during the exercise and can be a safe, effective way to load the hips while learning proper form and technique.

Romanian Deadlift (RDL)

The RDL involves hip flexion and extension while holding a resistance in front of the body. Proper form means the knees are slightly flexed while the spine remains long and straight throughout the range of motion. The movement should be from the hips, not the lumbar spine, and when done properly can strengthen the glutes, hamstring and adductor muscles responsible for extending the hip. Like the squat or deadlift, the RDL uses the stabilising muscles of the core, which means you’ll be working on a flat stomach while developing noticeable, well-defined glutes.

Chin-ups or Pull-ups

Whether in the gym or outside in a park almost nothing feels more primal than grabbing on to a pull-up bar and knocking out a few reps. The primary difference between a chin-up and a pull-up is hand position; the hands are palms-up during a chip-up and palms down during a pull-up. A palms-up position uses more of the biceps and places less strain on the elbow; it also puts the shoulder in an externally rotated position, which counteracts the effects of being at a computer all day. Either way, chin-ups or pull-ups with your own bodyweight (even modified or assisted) are a great way to strengthen the upper back and give you an overall more muscular appearance.chin-up-top-bottom

Bent-over Barbell Rows

In his research on the spine, Canadian professor Stuart McGill, Ph.D., noted that in addition to strengthening the muscles of the upper back, the barbell bent-over row develops important core strength to enhance spinal stability. The bent-over row can improve strength and definition of the back, while also strengthening the deep core muscles that can help give the appearance of a flatter stomach.

Standing Shoulder or Military Press

The shoulders sit on top of the spine, which sits on top of the hips. While seated shoulder presses are effective for developing shoulder strength they do not engage the hip and core muscles (and remember using more muscles = burning more calories). Standing shoulder presses require a solid, stable platform using the hips and deep stabilisers of the spine, making this exercise effective at developing core strength while improving the size and definition of the shoulder muscles.

Push-up

Everyone’s favorites…push-ups can be the most effective way to strengthen your chest and require no equipment. While your body is lying on a bench during a chest press, push-ups require the hip and core muscles to create the stability for the shoulders and arms to move through a complete range of motion, making it another exercise that does multiple things at once. While you can lift more weight lying on a bench or sitting in a machine, neither will use the muscles that help flatten your abs like the push-up does. The good news is that when performed to fatigue, push-ups can initiate a hormonal response that leads to muscle growth, meaning that you don’t need to risk injury with a ton of weight to increase mass and definition.

Planks and Side Planks

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A number of the exercises on this list use the deep core stabilisers as an integral part of the movement, something the normal plank is great for. Side planks, however, provide many of the same benefits as a traditional plank but balancing on one arm requires more strength from the shoulder. In addition, the side plank engages both the internal and external obliques, which, when strengthened together, can create a stronger mid-section.

Yoga

While lifting weights is AWESOME, you can’t forget to add flexibility and mobility training and yoga provides both. The first yoga class you take will be a challenge of moving the body in different directions, which helps improve overall flexibility and coordination. Yoga can help reduce both physical stress from exercise and mental stress from work and life demands.

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I can’t do both!!!!!

As Easter is over and we’re super busy, we are just going to post some fantastic information this week for you.

weight traininghow to run

Here’s a really great piece that simply explains the benefits of training both strength and cardio when you hit the gym and why you should be including strength work in your routines; best of all – it’s backed up by science!!

http://www.issaonline.edu/blog/index.cfm/2016/do-cardio-and-strength-training-actually-work-against-each-other

(just copy & paste the link and let us know your comments)

Ouch, Ouch, Ouch

tennis balls

10 Pain-Fighting Moves You Can Do With A Tennis Ball

As you can tell from our last post, we love using foam rollers to work out those nagging aches and pains, but sometimes they can’t get into a tight area quite as well as your hands. The next best option after a foam roller? Using nothing more than a few tennis balls, these moves get into the deepest layers of your muscle and connective tissue to help break the adhesions so your muscles can fully contract and stretch, They’ll also help relieve soreness, pain, and increase circulation.

 

If You’ve Got… Achy Feet

tennis ball foot

(Fitness photos by J. Miller)
Try… Sole Searching
Why it helps: The ball loosens up stiffness in your sole’s muscles, joints, and connective tissues.
How to do it:
1. While standing next to a wall or chair for stability, place a ball underneath the arch of your foot. Keep your heel on the floor and let your body weight sink in. Take deep breaths for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
2. Slowly roll your foot from side to side so the ball crosses your arch. Repeat for 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Roll the ball along the length of your foot from heal to toe for 1 to 2 minutes.
4. Repeat on the other foot.

You can also try this on the palm of your hand if these ache as well.
If You’ve Got… Stiff Knees

tennis ball knee

Try… Kneedy Ball
Why it helps: The ball acts as a spacer to gently traction the lower leg bones, kneecap, and thigh away from one another. This provides an internal stretch within the often-stiff joint capsule of the knee.
How to do it:
1. Sit on the floor or in a chair and place the ball behind your bent knee, as close to the side of the knee as possible.
2. Attempt to contract your muscles against the ball, temporarily “squashing” the ball for a count of 10, then relax your muscles for a count of 10. Do this 8 to 10 times.
3. Repeat on the other knee.

If You’ve Got… Tight Thighs

Try… IT Band Meltdown
Why it helps: The balls tease motion into the frequently tight IT Band and outer quadriceps muscle (vastus lateralis). This move helps to soothe tight knees and hips at once.
How to do it:
1. While sitting on the ground or in a firm chair, place 2 balls on the outside of your thigh. Keep the balls nestled into the side of your thigh and slowly bend and straighten your knee 20 times.
2. Move your thigh from side to side so that the balls cross the side of your thigh. Repeat for 2 minutes.
3. Repeat on the other side.

tennis ball it band
If You’ve Got… Sore Hips

tennis ball hip

Try… Hip Help
Why It Helps: This move targets multiple large and small muscles that attach on the side of the hip (the gluteus maximus, the medius, and the piriformis). These muscles can be tight either from sitting too much, overuse in exercise, or wearing high-heeled shoes.
How to do it:
1. Lie on the ground and place one ball on the side of your hip, then lean into the ball. Make slow circles with the hip and leg as it rests on the ball. Circle 12 times in each direction.
2. Repeat on the other side.

If You’ve Got… Bad Posture

Try… Upper Back UnWind
Why It Helps: This move is a postural corrective, an upper back tension reliever, and also helps to revive your breath.
How to do it:
1. Lie down and place two balls side by side on either side of your upper back. (You can place them in a tote, stocking, or sock, if you’d like.) Interlace your hands behind your head and lift your head off the floor, bringing your chin toward your chest. Lift your bottom off the floor and take 3 deep breaths into your ribs.
2. Keeping your breaths big and steady, roll the balls like a rolling pin up and down your upper back for 3 to 4 minutes.

tennis ball back
If You’ve Got… A Tight Chest

tennis ball chest

Try… Chest Decompress
Why It Helps: This move unglues the over-worked chest muscles that tighten due to holding cell phones, typing on computers, cooking, or carrying kids. It restores breathing and also relaxes your nervous system.
How to do it:
1. While leaning against a doorway or wall corner, place a ball just below your collarbone. Spend at least 1 minute simply breathing into the pressure of the ball.
2. Shift from side to side so that the ball scrolls along the upper chest, while you continue to breathe into the ball, for 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Try moving your arm and neck while you shift to add extra shoulder mobility into the mix. Continue for 1 minute.
4. Repeat on the other side.
If You’ve Got… Tense Shoulders

Try… Shoulder Shine-Up
Why It Helps: This move addresses some of the rotator cuff muscles that often tighten from overuse, poor posture, and repetitive motion.
How to do it:
Place a ball behind your shoulder blade while lying on the floor. Experiment with moving your shoulder in every possible direction for 3 minutes on each side. Your arm will look like seaweed floating in the water.

tennis ball shoulder

NO PAIN NO GAIN? RUBBISH!!

How to Use a Foam Roll

A foam roll, or foam roller, is a useful training tool to use as part of your recovery or regeneration plan.  Foam-Rollers-400x257southern-workout-store-commercial-foam-roller-30cm-500x416the-grid-foam-rollerp-1143-foam-roller-rumble

 

How It Works

Foam rolling uses deep compression to help roll out muscle adhesions, or knots, that develop over time. Think of your muscle as a shoelace. It has a certain length to it. If it gets in a knot and you pull both ends of the shoestring, the knot gets tighter. You need to work the knot out with your fingers to restore the original length of the shoelace. The same goes for muscles. By working out those knots in the muscle, which often arise from inactivity or repetitive activity, you’ll be able to restore the muscle to its original length, thus making it more pliable and functional.

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Technique

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You can use the foam roll for all your major muscle groups. Glide your body over the foam roll to work each area individually e.g. the backs of your legs or your lower back. Pause at any tender points for 10 to 30 seconds before moving on to the next region. Only apply as much pressure as you can tolerate and build up the amount of time you spend foam rolling. Your muscle tissue will begin to get used to this new sensation and be more and more willing to accept the new form of self massage that you’ve implemented into your routine.

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Benefits

Foam rolling is like a massage. The compression causes your nerves to relax, loosens muscle, increases blood flow, and helps your body recover. In other words, foam rolling can alleviate soreness and make your muscles feel better.

When to Use It

You can use a foam roll anywhere or anytime. Many people enjoy rolling while watching television or before bedtime. Others do it at the start or end of a training session or after sitting in the same position for hours. Don’t limit yourself to the areas targeted in your training program. Use the foam roll anywhere you feel tight and in need of a massage.

What It Feels Like

You’ll probably enjoy the foam roll routine—everyone likes massages. Still, there’ll be some uncomfortable moments, as there would be during a professional massage. The first time you use a foam roll, it might be a little painful, but that’s just a sign that you stand to benefit greatly from using it. Once you’re past the first few weeks, though, it’ll get considerably easier and more comfortable. The foam roll is a great barometer of the quality of your muscle and connective tissue. The better it feels, and the less it hurts, the higher the quality of your tissue

roller exercises

 

Just pick it up……..NOW!

the-muscle-dysmorphia-1And NO, you wont look like this….

Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier

Want to reduce body fat, increase lean muscle mass and burn calories more efficiently? Strength training to the rescue! Despite its reputation as a “guy” or “jock” thing, strength training is a key component of overall health and fitness for everyone.

 

Strength training is an important part of an overall fitness program. Here’s what strength training can do for you — and how to get started.weight training

 

Use it or lose it

Muscle mass naturally diminishes with age. If you don’t do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose, you’ll increase the percentage of fat in your body, and this process is called Atrophy and is just a result of aging. But strength training can help you preserve and enhance your muscle mass — at any age.

Strength or Resistance training is you performing an exercise when you have to generate force (use your muscles) to push, pull or lift something. The ‘something’ can be your own bodyweight, a machine weight, free weights such as dumb bells or kettlebells or something like a resistance band; what you start with depends on where you are staring from!cardio v weights

Strength training also helps you:

  • Develop strong bones. By stressing your bones, strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.(especially in females)
  • Control your weight. As you gain muscle, your body begins to burn calories more efficiently. The more toned your muscles, the easier it is to control your weight. The extra muscle mass also raises you metabolism as muscle requires more energy.
  • Boost your stamina. As you get stronger, you won’t fatigue as easily. Building muscle also contributes to better balance, which can help you maintain independence as you age.
  • Manage chronic conditions. Strength training can reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions, including back pain, arthritis, obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Stronger muscles will take the strain of moving around, keeping the stresses of you joints and helping protect them. More toned, stronger muscle also improves your posture as you will stand more ‘taller’ with these stronger muscles helping you move as nature intended.
  • Sharpen your focus. Some research suggests that regular strength training helps improve attention for older adults.Strength training can be done at home or in the gym.

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  • Consider the options
  • Body weight. You can do many exercises with little or no equipment. Try pushups, pullups, planks and leg squats.
  • Resistance Bands. Resistance bands are inexpensive, lightweight pieces of kit that provides resistance when stretched. You can choose from many types of resistance bands that vary in strength, can be used just about anywhere and are great for working on joint stabilisation as well as muscle strength.
  • Free weights. Barbells and dumbbells are classic strength training tools.
  • Weight machines. These are ideal for beginners starting out as they offer a safe introduction to resistance training; most fitness centers offer a range of machines that cover all major muscle groups. Machines are also useful to target a specific muscle if you are recovering from injury or wanting to increase strength or size in a particular area.

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Getting started

OK so you have decided to begin a strength training program; the best advice you can get is to go see an experienced trainer who can talk you through a suitable program and workout where you should start, choosing the right types of exercises, weight or resistance level heavy enough to tire your muscles. And you get to understand how your muscles should be working. You will also learn how and when to progress each exercise and why you should keep raising the intensity and not same at the same level. When you can easily do more repetitions of a certain exercise, you need to gradually increase the weight or resistance.

To give your muscles time to recover, rest for at least one full day between exercising each specific muscle group, this allows your muscles to recover and be ready for the next workout. Failing to do this will only lead to no progress and probably an injury. Also be careful to listen to your body. Although mild muscle soreness is normal, sharp pain and sore or swollen joints are signs that you’ve overdone it.

When to expect results

You don’t need to spend hours a day lifting weights to benefit from strength training. Two to three strength effective training sessions a week lasting just 20 to 30 minutes are sufficient for most people. Better yet, results are quick. Expect to enjoy noticeable improvements in your strength and stamina in just a few weeks. If you keep it up, you’ll continue to increase your strength — even if you’re not in shape when you begin.

Having a good time? get me some of that ‘white stuff’

sugar in cereal barseffects of sugar on brain

Change of plan for this week; we have changed the planned post for this week after receiving a link to an article from one of our clients (the 2nd one listed below), so thanks Richard for the link.  For us this is great as it shows that our clients do look at and understand the education we are providing each week to help improve both your health and your fitness levels.

The first link is an article that shows just how hard the battle to change how sugary drinks are marketed & promoted, with the big suppliers having so much influence on how we see these products.

The second link shows you some of the things these suppliers don’t tell you; the article has several links contained in it and a short video for you to watch.

 

http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/soapbox/article59364713.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/if-soda-commercials-were-honest_us_56b8f3b4e4b04f9b57daa6fd

Just shows why it is important to understand what you are eating and why you should be tracking your meals; eating fresh foods and eliminating sugary foods wont just help you control your weight, there are so many other health benefits as well.  Let us know what you think.

how soft drinks affect youhow soda impacts on the bodysugar effects

I need to lift those big, heavy things to lose weight, don’t I?

Getting fit doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple bodyweight exercises are a great way for achieving gains in strength, flexibility, and overall health. Best of all, they don’t cost a thing and you can usually do them just about anywhere. Still not convinced? Well. Here’s a list of exercises and why they should be a key component to your workout regime. We use them all the time with our clients, mixing up weight training and bodyweight to keep the body working hard.  All you need to know is how many of each you should be doing and how often.

Why Bodyweight Training Is the Best

  1. It’s a super-efficient workout. Research suggests high-output, bodyweight-based exercises like plyometrics yield awesome fitness gains in short durations. Since there’s no equipment involved, bodyweight workouts make it easy to transition from one move to the next with little rest. And you’ve probably already heard that those short-but-intense workout can yield major results.
  2. It can combine cardio and strength training Performing quick cardio sessions (such as 60 seconds of burpessa or high-knees) between strength movements (such as a set of push ups or lunges) will keep the heart pumping while still encouraging muscle and strength development.
  3. You can burn fat—fast. Just a few minutes of a bodyweight circuits can have a major impact on the body’s metabolism. If you’ve ever heard of the ‘afterburn’ or EPOC effect, you know that even when your workout is over, your body can still be revved for hours to come.Kiwi Fit
  4. At any fitness level, it’s challenging. Bodyweight exercises are great because they’re easily modified to challenge anyone. Adding extra reps, performing the exercises faster or super slowly, taking shorter breaks, or adding a powerful, dynamic movement (push-up with a clap anyone?) are just a few ways to make the simplest workout tougher. And with each added modification, your progress is obvious.
  5. You’ll gain core strength. Your core is more than just six-pack abs. There are at least 29 make up the trunk of the body, and many simple bodyweight movements can be used to make all of them work. Such exercises won’t just give you tighter abs, you’ll also gain better posture, relieve lower back stress, and improve overall performance.
  6. It can increase your flexibility. Not everyone who does regular resistance training has to end up with tight muscles and inflexible joints. Bodyweight training can go hand-in-hand with building strength and flexibility. Completing bodyweight exercises through a full range of motion ensures your joints are moving freely. Plus, it can lead to improved posture and might reduce the chance of exercise-related injury. Yoga is another great way to improve flexibility while also significantly improving strength.
  7. There’s never an excuse to not workout. Ask someone why they don’t exercise, and chances are they have “no time” or it’s “inconvenient.” Well, bodyweight exercises eliminate those common obstacles. When you only need a little space, it’s easy to squeeze in workouts wherever you are. Exercising without equipment can also be used as a stress buster whether you’re working at home or on the road.
  8. You’ll achieve better balance. When it comes to this type of training, sometimes increasing resistance means increasing balance, too. For example, a traditional squat can be progressed by changing to a single leg squat, making this a really functional movement like that can improve balance through increased body awareness and control.
  9. You’ll never get bored. It can be easy to get stuck in a workout rut of treadmills, bicep curls, lat pull-downs, and bench presses. That’s why bodyweight training can be so refreshing: There are countless exercise variations that can spice up any workout routine. Working with a variety of exercises not only relieves boredom, it can also help break training plateaus and spark further progress.
  10. Mixing up your workout is easy. Indoor excercise isn’t for everyone. Luckily you can perform bodyweight moves inside or outdoors, alone or with a group of friends. Think about adding some strength moves to your next park run, or finishing a swim session with a quick bodyweight circuit to keep things interesting.
  11. It can help with injury prevention. Injury is one of the main reasons people stop working out, so preventing those aches and pains should be a big priority. Bodyweight exercises are generally safe for any exerciser regardless of experience, age, or fitness level. Many simple bodyweight movements can actually be an effective option for rehabilitation, even for those with significant impairments. (But get some advice first!)
  12. You’ll see results. Bodyweight exercises get results partly because they involve compound movements—meaning numerous joints and muscles are engaged in each move. Compound exercises such as push-ups and lunges have been shown to be extremely effective for strength gains and performance improvements. And research shows improved core strength translates to improved strength gains throughout the entire body.Woman yoga exercise

While there’s no universal “best” way to exercise for everyone, bodyweight movements offer lots of benefits, especially if you’re new to resistance training. Whether you’re at home, at the gym, or even in a hotel room, bodyweight training is one tool that can be helpful to all levels in every setting.

Here’s some of our favourite Bodyweight Exercises we like to regularly include in our client’s workouts and these are a simple, effective way to improve balance, flexibility, and strength without any extra machinery or extra equipment.woman-squatting

Inchworm. Stand up tall with the legs straight, and let those fingertips hit the floor. Keeping the legs straight (but not locked!), slowly lower the torso toward the floor, and then walk the hands forward. Once in a push-up position, start taking tiny steps so the feet meet the hands. Continue bugging out for 4-6 reps.

Tuck Jump. Standing with the knees slightly bent, jump up as high as possible and bring the knees in toward the chest while extending the arms straight out. Land with the knees slightly bent and quickly jump again!

Bear Crawl. Embrace that inner grizzly. Starting on the hands and knees, rise up onto the toes, tighten the core, and slowly reach forward with the right arm and right knee, followed by the left side. Continue the crawl for 8-10 reps.

Mountain Climber. Starting on your hands and knees, bring the left foot forward directly under the chest while straightening the right leg. Keeping the hands on the ground and core tight, jump and switch legs. The left leg should now be extended behind the body with the right knee forward.

Burpees. One of the most effective full-body exercises around, this one starts out in a low squat position with hands on the floor. Next, kick the feet back to a push-up position, complete one push-up, then immediately return the feet to the squat position. Leap up as high as possible before squatting and moving back into the push-up portion of the show.

Plank. Lie face down with forearms on the floor and hands clasped. Extend the legs behind the body and rise up on the toes. Keeping the back straight, hips and shoulders level, tighten the core and hold the position for 30-60 seconds (or as long as you can hang).

Wall Sit. Who needs a chair when there’s a wall? Slowly slide your back down a wall until the thighs are parallel to the ground. Make sure the knees are directly above the ankles and keep the back straight. Go for 60 seconds per set (or however long it takes to turn those legs to jelly).

Lunge. Stand with the hands on the hips and feet hip-width apart. Step your right leg forward and slowly lower body until left (back) knee is close to or touching the floor and bent at least 90 degrees. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side. Try stepping back into the lunge for a different variation.

Lunge Jump. Stand with the feet together and lunge forward with the right foot. Jump straight up, propelling the arms forward while keeping the elbows bent. While in the air, switch legs and land in a lunge with the opposite leg forward. Repeat and continue switching legs. Try to do 10!

Squat. Stand with the feet parallel or turned out 15 degrees—whatever is most comfortable. Slowly start to crouch by bending the hips and knees until the thighs are at least parallel to the floor. Make sure the heels do not rise off the floor. Press through the heels to return to a standing position.

Step-Up. This may be self-explanatory, but just in case—find a step or bench, and place the right foot on the elevated surface. Step up until the right leg is straight and foot is fully on the step, then return to start.

Standard Push-Up. With hands shoulder-width apart, keep the feet flexed at hip distance, and tighten the core. Bend the elbows until the chest reaches the ground, and then push back up (make sure to keep the elbows tucked close to the body).

SuperMan_0

Superman. Lie face down with arms and legs extended. Keeping the torso as still as possible, simultaneously raise the arms and legs to form a small curve in the body.

Shoulder Stabilisation Series (Y, T, W). OK, it may look crazy, but stay with us. Lie down on your stomach with arms extended overhead and palms facing each other. Move the arms into each letter formation. (Singing YMCA IS OPTIOANL!!.)

Side Plank. Roll to the side and come up on one foot and elbow. Make sure the hips are lifted and the core is engaged, and hang tight for 30-60 seconds (or as long as you can stomach!).

Glute (& Shoulder) Bridge. Lie on your back with the knees bent and feet hip-width apart. Place arms at your side and lift up the spine and hips. Only the head, feet, arms, and shoulders should be on the ground. Then lift one leg upwards, keeping the core tight. Slowly bring the leg back down then lift back up.

Bridge

There you have it; all the reasons why Bodyweight Exercises are good for you and some exercises for you to try; now get cracking!

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So it’s a Carbo – Protein – Fat type food? I’ll have two

Macronutrients Guide – Dietary Facts on Carbs Protein and Fat

There is almost too much information spinning around on the subject of nutrition, mainly because of the amount of “diet experts” that perpetuate the world of marketing. Cutting through all of this information and misinformation can be challenging at best. In this article, you will learn foundational nutritional information as well as some specific techniques you can use to help keep you lean and healthy. This article will attempt to align with current food labeling information while hopefully being easy to follow and understand.

For the purpose of this article, we will define a macronutrient as one of a group of food chemical compounds that we as humans consume to provide the bulk of our energy – specifically carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Understanding the relationship between these macronutrients as well as how the body processes them can give you a big advantage in the quest toward a healthier you. Let’s start with carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates A carbohydrate is just a sugar on a fundamental level. In fact, the word monosaccharide can be literally translated as “single sugar”. Carbohydrates in nutrition are all types of sugars, and while sugar has earned a bad reputation in the health and nutrition circles, it is important to understand that carbohydrates all fit in this classification. How they are structured and how your body processes them changes the impact different saccharides may have on your body, however.bowl

The three main types of carbohydrates to be concerned about are monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides. Literally translated, the prefix mono is single, di is double, and poly is many. So a polysaccharide is technically nothing more than a clump of monosaccharides and a disaccharide is nothing more than two monosaccharides combined together.

Why is this important? Well, you can break the category of carbohydrates down into a more global separation to match with nutritional labels by using the terms “simple sugar” (mono or disaccharide) and “complex carbohydrate” (polysaccharide). It is also important because of the way your body digests carbohydrates.

As food is being digested, your body is looking to break whatever food comes into the digestive system down by reducing it into very manageable blocks. In the case of carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into a simple sugar called glucose (otherwise known as blood sugar). Glucose will be stored in your muscle tissue and liver and held as stored energy (called glycogen). Glucose is also primarily used by your brain. If you’ve ever noticed how your energy levels can drop after spending a lot of time thinking, this shows you how much blood sugar that computer in your head can eat up. Interestingly enough, glucose is a monosaccharide and glycogen is a polysaccharide. Glycogen will be broken down into glucose as needed and is stored to keep blood sugar levels relatively steady.

So if you eat two different carbohydrates, let’s say one is table sugar (sucrose, a disaccharide) and the other is a potato (a polysaccharide otherwise known as starch), your body will go to work digesting them. The table sugar is snapped in two and converted over to glucose relatively quickly. After all, there isn’t much to do – just break the thing in half, pretty much. The starch, on the other hand, is more of a tangled mess as it consists of multiple glucose molecules jammed together. This takes your body a bit longer to break apart (think of taking confetti off of flypaper). Here’s what this means to you: the simple carbohydrate is digested quickly and hits your blood stream rapidly, while the complex carbohydrate takes a bit longer to digest and consequently the glucose molecules are more steadily released into your bloodstream, not to mention the benefit of vitamins and minerals from the potato that the table sugar is lacking.

All of this relates to important terms like “glycemic index” and “glycemic load”. The nugget of wisdom to get out of all of this is the same kind of things that you’ve heard before: eat more complex carbohydrates than simple carbohydrates (also referred to as simple sugars).

If we look at the thermic effect of carbohydrates, because it takes energy to digest the very food that is used to obtain energy, it is estimated that carbohydrates will take away about 10% of their caloric value through the digestive process. So, if you ate 50 calories of complex carbohydrates, your body would spend about 5 calories breaking down that carbohydrate into usable glucose. This figure may become more significant as we look at the other macronutrients.

Special Note: While dietary fibre is categorised under the carbohydrate section of nutritional labels, it is technically indigestible by humans as dietary fiber is a non-starch polysaccharide. Fibre is primarily used by the body to absorb toxins and help push food through the digestive system. Fibre is a crucial part of healthy dietary nutrition so look for good sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber.

Fats One of the most interesting things about fats is the fact that just because you ingest fat doesn’t mean that you will end up being fat. Fats are a critical part of healthy dietary intake and are utilised within the body for a variety of purposes, some of which include health of cell walls, storing/transferring fat-soluble vitamins, skin and hair health, and providing energy for your body. Like carbohydrates, there are different types of fats that the body can use.

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Saturated fat gets a lot of bad press, like sugar above, and is found primarily in animal meats as well as some oils (coconut, cottonseed, palm kernel, etc.). It is important to note that not all fats labeled as saturated fats are the same. There is a fundamental difference in the fatty acid ratios between coconut oil and butter, for example.

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats tends to be liquids at room temperature, due to the nature of the chemical bonds that prevent them from easily being ‘”stacked’” on top of one another. You can think of saturated fat as a straight wire and polyunsaturated fats more like steel wool. If you try to stack a couple of wires on top of one another, you can make a pretty dense little metal structure. If you try to mash steel wool into the same kind of shape, it will spring back and refuse to flatten out.

However, these polyunsaturated fats can be chemically straightened by changing the nature of the bond in the fats. Chemically speaking, the double bond that is in a formation called ‘”cis” is changed to ‘”trans”. This takes some of the bends out of the unsaturated fat and allows it to better stack against itself. So much so, in fact, that you can force this chemically treated oil to become somewhat solid at room temperature. Thus we have “trans fat” which was originally marketed as margarine, ironically labeled a “healthier alternative to butter”. We tend to stick with the “nature knows best” philosophy when it comes to food.

So, if eating fat doesn’t necessarily make you fat, then what do you need to know about it? You should first know that fats help make you feel full. They are packed with energy – over twice that of carbohydrates and proteins on average – and should not be the mainstay of your nutritional uptake, but are very important nonetheless. In a meal of mixed macronutrients, a recommended manner of eating, fats will help to slow down the absorption of foods with a higher glycemic index. This will help the energy from carbohydrates be more evenly distributed into the bloodstream, preventing blood sugar spikes and corresponding fat storage responses in your body. Fats also help you feel full, so if you’re eating at a healthy and slow pace, your body should send signals of fullness earlier than if eating just carbohydrates, for example.

The thermic effect of fats is depressed from other foods – if carbohydrates were somewhere around a 10% thermic effect, fats are sitting in at 5% or less. In essence, fats are long chains of molecules. In order to digest these chains, your body just goes along snipping them into smaller chains. This doesn’t take as much work as breaking apart the component sugar molecules of carbohydrates, for example.

With fats, it’s a good idea to stick with mono and polyunsaturated fat sources as the primary source of fat in your dietary intake. Foods that are rich in omega-3 (and omega-9) fatty acids are a good bet, and stay away from foods that use trans fats. Remember, you can turn a good fat into a trans fat if you cook it at high enough temperature so become knowledgeable about the heat sensitivity of different oils that you may be cooking with.

Proteins If you get down to the meat of it all (pardon the pun), proteins are another critical building block of a healthy dietary intake. In fact, meats are one of the main sources of proteins, although different vegetables will have them as well. Proteins are essentially tangles of amino acid molecules. There are twenty different types of nutritional amino acids, some of which are labeled as “essential amino acids” because our bodies cannot produce them on their own and we must get them from our nutritional intake.

If a protein contains all of the essential amino acids, it is considered a “complete” protein. An “incomplete” protein is therefore a protein that does not contain all of the essential amino acids. Does this mean that incomplete proteins are bad? Of course not. In fact, many vegetables fit into this category and by eating two vegetables that compliment the “missing” amino acids in each other’s profile, your dietary intake will then have a complete amino acid profile (example: beans and rice).meat

Proteins are used in our cells for a variety of functions. One of the more publicised functions is the building of muscle tissue. Without proper protein intake, your body will be unable to maintain all of those tiny muscle fibers that make up your muscles which help to keep you strong, toned and muscular. So protein is a pretty important macronutrient when it comes to staying lean and healthy. After all, if our base metabolism is primarily determined by how much living tissue we have in our bodies (muscle, bone, etc.), then we might as well keep as much as we reasonably can.

The thermic food effect of proteins is a little different from fats and carbohydrates. Remember how proteins are a tangled knot of amino acids? Well, it takes a lot more work to break these things down for your body to use them. So much so, in fact, that it’s estimated that your body may spend as much as 30% of the energy available in the protein just to access the amino acids. Even if we go with a more conservative 20% number, it’s easy to see that 50 calories of proteins may end up with only 40 calories actually getting into your body when everything is said and done. Combine that with the fact they are generally slower digesting (your body has to untie all those knots) and they keep you feeling full longer and it’s easy to see why proteins are a very important part of a balanced dietary intake.

Wrapping Up The phrases “you get what you pay for” and “garbage in, garbage out” really hit home in relation to macronutrients. Use the guideline of eating the best quality of food that you can on a regular basis. If an entire meal costs a euro or two, you can likely bet that the quality is matching the price and you’ll be paying for this later. Since we exercise a couple of times a week but we eat a couple of times a day, it makes sense to become knowledgeable about the different macronutrients and their roles in your body.

Eat healthy, live well and have fun discovering food that treats your body right!

 

New Diet – I lost 14 stone in one day!!

diets_5__300x0How Healthy Can You Get on Diet Alone?

 For any number of reasons, far too many of us are sedentary; long working hours, desk bound, school runs and on it goes. There are reports that show far too many of us spends less than 10 minutes a week on any moderately intense activities, such as walking and housework, or vigorous ones, such as running, according to 2005 statistics from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. A quarter of Americans say they’re not performing any physical activity during their free time and, if that applies to them you can be pretty sure we will follow suit. All of this sitting on the couch or behind a desk is undoubtedly contributing to the country’s rising health care costs–but does a lack of exercise necessarily mean we’re unhealthy?

Every day, we’re bombarded with new reports or the latest magic diet about how crucial it is to our good health to consume more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish) and cut the trans fats (e.g., doughnuts, french fries). While, of course, you should exercise, if you’re not, you may be wondering just how far a focus on diet alone can take you.

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Diet Pros

Many experts agree that diet may play a bigger role than exercise when it comes to shedding pounds. However, the most effective method of weight loss tends to be a combination of exercise and a decrease in your overall caloric intake, says Dr. Donald D. Hensrud, medical editor in chief of Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for Everybody.

Eating right also is an essential part of reducing your risk of chronic disease. Watching how much saturated and trans fats you consume may lower your low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad cholesterol”), one of the major causes of clogged arteries. Likewise, following a diet similar to the Dietary Approaches to Stop

Hypertension (DASH) eating plan has been shown to lower blood pressure and cut the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. Based on findings by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, this diet plan is low in animal protein, moderate in low-fat dairy and high in plant proteins, fruits and vegetables. Avoiding foods high in refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and rice, and instead opting for more vegetables and fruits, can help protect against several forms of cancer, such as those affecting the stomach, lungs, pancreas and prostate, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research.

We consult with our clients on a regular basis to help plan their food intake, making small manageable changes to improve what they eat. Fresh food, simple recipes all help to fuel our bodies and provide the nutrients required to allow us to produce the energy required and recover from activities whilst controlling or weight.

Complements of Exercise

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But don’t get so comfortable in your desk chair yet. As important as eating smart is, experts say the health benefits are greater when combined with physical activity. Regular exercise can increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL, “good cholesterol”), another component of lowering the risk of heart disease, says Stacey Snelling, a registered dietician and an associate professor at American University in the Department of Health and Fitness. While diet is one way to address high blood pressure, exercise will also help by making your heart stronger, allowing it to pump more blood with less effort. If you’re concerned about diseases like cancer, for instance, you’re far better off keeping up your activity level, since exercise can help keep hormone levels healthy and strengthen the immune system. Denser muscle fibres also help boost our metabolism, meaning we can burn more energy when we are active.

What You’re Missing

Beyond missing out on these benefits, experts say dieting without an eye toward exercise has a host of other drawbacks.

A 2006 study funded by the National Institutes of Health showed that overweight people in their 50s and 60s who dropped weight via diet alone also lost muscle mass, strength and aerobic capacity. Those who were active, even with low intensity activities such as jogging or cycling could maintain their strength levels, as well as their aerobic capacity. Those who did some form of strength training could help off-set the effects of aging on muscle mass; as we age we naturally lose muscle mass but resistance work can help slow this process down. “If people are keeping their weight under control strictly by dieting, they might be compromising their muscular strength and function,” says Edward Weiss, lead author of the study and assistant professor of nutrition and dietetics at Saint Louis University’s Doisy College of Health Sciences.

Losing weight through dietary changes alone also won’t affect your body composition, so while you’ll weigh less, you’ll still have the same percentage of body fat. Strengthening exercises, while they might not result in rapid weight loss, will help improve your muscle-to-fat ratio, says Cedric Bryant, chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise. Since a pound of muscle takes up less volume than a pound of fat, you’ll see a difference over time. “It’ll have a pretty profound effect on how you look and fit in your clothing,” Bryant says.

Additionally, exercise can improve your mood, increase energy levels and is considered crucial to keeping off the pounds you’ve shed, according to the National Weight Control Registry. Exercise is also important because, as we age, we slow down, and our spontaneous physical activity decreases. (Think of the difference between the movement of a 6-year-old boy and an 80-year-old man.) We also lose about 1% of our muscle mass each year, which slows metabolism, Hensrud says. If you’re not exercising, eating the same amount of healthy food will translate into weight gain over time. Loss of muscle strength will also impact on posture and can increase chances of injury our muscles become weaker.

 

Bottom Line

If you can’t find time to do a full workout, health experts say you’re much better off finding ways to sneak short bursts of activity into your day rather than give up altogether. Our small group training programs are 30 minutes long; that’s 30 minutes out of a 24 hour day!!

Conversely, if you’re one of those people who exercise so you can eat whatever you want (think Spin class followed by special coffee & sweet treat) and, know that you’re probably not as healthy as you think, either. “Exercise and diet is always going to be the best strategy,” Weiss says. “If you’re good with one, that doesn’t mean you can brush off the other.”

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