Forget weight – what’s your body composition?

March 8th, 2015

Why is it useful to measure your body composition?

Body composition is the term used to describe the different components that make up our total body weight. It’s the ratio between our stored body fat and lean body weight (muscle, bone, organs … everything other than fat) that determines our health, tone, shape, performance, strength, metabolic rate and overall appearance. Our lean body weight (LBW) is metabolically active and fat (adipose) tissue is not.

Weight on the scales

Bathroom scales provide a measure of total weight, but don’t determine what that weight is composed of. Based only on scale weight, a 90 kilo athlete with less than 10% body fat may be considered obese by a typical weight chart. This also includes Body Mass Index (BMI) measures for the same reason. While BMI combined with waist circumference gives some indication of our physical condition, it is not as accurate as body composition.

VARIOUS METHODS OF ANALYSING BODY COMPOSITION

Hydrostatic Weighing

What is it?

This is a method that involves immersing a person underwater in a large tank of water and works on the principle of displacement. LBW is more dense than water and fat tissue is less dense than water, therefore an individual with more body fat will weigh less under water and be more buoyant.

Pros:

Hydrostatic weighing has long been considered a highly accurate measure of body composition.

Cons:

It’s highly inaccessible, inconvenient and many more sophisticated methods are now being developed which are superseding this method.

Skinfold/Caliper Measurements

What is it?

The skin is pinched in various sites of the body using calipers to determine the thickness of subcutaneous (beneath the skin) body fat. Several formulas exist to calculate the sum of these measurements, incorporating our weight, height and age to estimate an overall body fat percentage.

Pros:

Accessible and inexpensive. When performed by a trained and skilled professional they are up to 98% accurate.

Cons:

Difficult to determine the body fat of an individual who is significantly overweight.

Accuracy takes skill and training and is commonly compromised by unskilled operators.

Bioelectrical Impedance

Bioelectrical Impedance is now a commonly used method. It sends a weak electrical current through the body. Electricity is carried by water and there is less water in fat tissue than in LBW, so it uses impedance/resistance of the current to differentiate the two. Methods range from scales you stand on to electrodes placed on the skin and handheld devices. The more accurate machines measure the entire body rather than simply standing on scales. The scales with feet electrodes only will send the current up one leg and down the other, only ‘guestimating’ you from the waist up.

Pros:

Accessible, accurate, no human intervention/error, relatively inexpensive (This is our preferred method at Aston Fitness).

Cons:

The readings can be affected by hydration levels so measurements should be taken under similar conditions each time for the most accuracy.

Ideal Body Weight and Percent Body Fat

A ‘healthy range’ of body fat for men is between 8 and 20 per cent, whilst for women it ranges between 20 and 30 per cent. ‘Healthy range’ means that for every per cent over or below this range, your risk of disease increases.

Over-fat has been linked to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and several forms of cancer, whilst under-fat (particularly in women) may increase the risk of hormonal disturbances, impaired immune function and osteoporosis.

There are two parts to reducing your body fat percentage:

1. reduce overall stored body fat

2. increase lean muscle tissue

To reach the lower end of the desired range, you must have adequate LBW to support such fat loss. Any attempt to reduce body fat using extreme measures not only leads to decreased performance, but is also likely to lead to severe health complications, such as nutrient deficiencies, infertility and injuries.

Is Body Composition Genetic?

Some aspects of where you store your body fat is genetic, however, whether you choose to store excess body fat is up to you! Your genetics are the bullet in the gun … your lifestyle is the trigger!

We lose around 3% LBW per decade after the age of 30 – that is, if we don’t exercise. In this case your body fat percentage will be increasing as you age, even if your weight doesn’t change. I often hear people use their age as justification for weighing more, but in fact we should weigh less as we age due to loss of muscle and bone density. Food for thought…

METABOLIC SUICIDE: the recovery mission

February 18th, 2015

Re-boot your metabolism for permanent fat loss

Extract from LOSING IT! Lose fat without ruining your metabolism. By Donna Aston

Reality television shows are earning top ratings by flaunting the dramatic weight loss of   individuals desperate enough to endure punishing diet and exercise regimes.

Next time you hear someone moaning about diet torture, understand that it isn’t just a hissy fit. It’s real. The emotional and physical torment of deprivation challenges the very core of human nature and its inherent survival instincts.

Each time you jump from low carbs to low fat to low calories to high protein you are harming yourself. No-one wants to be fat and it’s great to become pro-active about getting in shape but we have to wise up about how it’s done. It won’t happen with fads, starvation or anything that even resembles torture but by re-booting your metabolism, it will happen and the best news is that it can stay that way.

Restrictive dieting may cause a reduction in weight but it almost always causes a reduction in metabolism and once you begin on this downhill spiral, you are entering a destructive cycle where it is virtually impossible to lose fat without starving and over-exercising.

Too many people are following fads with the best intentions but inadvertently damaging their bodies by losing muscle tone, depleting your fat-burning capacity, your metabolism, your self-esteem, not to mention your overall health and energy levels. When you starve your body your fat-storage enzymes become ultra-efficient, stocking up on fat reserves in preparation for the next famine. Not unlike a bear in hibernation, in preparation for the next anticipated ‘drought’, your body will become a skilful fat-storing machine!

The good news is that even the most seasoned ‘yo-yoers’ can retrain their bodies and re-boot their metabolism, enticing those fat-releasing enzymes out of submission.

You expend energy/kilojoules regardless of your activity levels – even during sleep. Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) represents the energy your body burns over a 24-hour period to maintain normal functions and sustain life, without activity. This is determined by your age, height, weight, gender and, most importantly, your level of lean body weight (muscle tissue). Men commonly have a higher metabolic rate than women due to the fact that they have more lean muscle. Muscle tissue is more metabolically active than stored fat tissue and therefore requires more energy to maintain.

Over-restrictive dieting can reduce your BMR by as much as 20 per cent!

Your BMR generally decreases with age and this decrease is exacerbated by kilojoule-restriction that leads to lean muscle loss. The less muscle / lean weight you have, the lower your metabolism. Fad diets often encourage the loss of lean weight because it produces a favourable result on the bathroom scales (lean muscle is heavier and more dense than stored body fat), however, this only works to your detriment in the long-term. Conversely, if you eat a sensible amount of kilojoules and participate in regular strength-promoting exercises, your metabolism can be rejuvenated and maintained for a healthy, lean, permanent result.

A sluggish metabolism causes an inefficient environment to effectively burn kilojoules, making you prone to excess body fat storage and making fat loss increasingly difficult. In an attempt to lower kilojoule intake, we inadvertently consume fewer calories and consequently, fewer nutrients. With this comes low energy levels and sluggish digestion, just at a time where higher energy levels are necessary for simple maintenance, let alone fat loss.

When your metabolism is functioning at its optimum, you have the freedom to consume more food without storing excess fat. Excessive exercise becomes completely unnecessary to maintain a fit, lean and energetic body. A higher level of nutrients can be consumed to promote optimum health and energy, without the looming risk of excess fat storage. In essence, your body becomes an efficient fat-burning machine!

Estimating your personal BMR …

The most accurate way to calculate your BMR is to have your body fat measured, however, the chart below will provide you with an indicative figure to get you on the right track:

Age BMR (men) BMR (women)
10-17 17.7 x weight (kg) + 657 13.4 x weight (kg) + 692
18-29 15.1 x weight (kg) + 692 14.8 x weight (kg) + 487
30-59 11.5 x weight (kg) + 873 8.3 x weight (kg) + 846
60-74 11.9 x weight (kg) + 700 9.2 x weight (kg) + 687
75+ 8.4 x weight (kg) + 821 9.8 x weight (kg) + 624

For example, a 32 year old female weighing 68kg:  8.3 x 68 + 846 = 1410 BMR

Tips for correcting metabolic meltdown …

1. Don’t allow your body to go into ‘starvation mode’. Keep your kilojoule intake just above your Basal Metabolic Rate and don’t skip meals in an attempt to lose weight

2. Don’t be seduced by over-restrictive fad / short-term diets that promise ‘fast’ weight loss. The ‘weight’ you lose will likely be your valuable lean muscle!

3. Be consistent, but not excessive, with your exercise regime. Incorporate both strength and cardiovascular elements and remember quality, not quantity.

4. Limit your intake of over-processed, kilojoule-dense and nutrient-poor foods. Stick to ‘real’, unrefined and nutritious alternatives. It need not be time-consuming or boring to eat well!

5. Re-asses your goals and make a promise to yourself to change your daily habits for a lifetime, not simply to fit into your new jeans on the weekend!  Remember, the physical and emotional torture of yo-yo dieting is a price too high to pay.

FIBRE: ARE YOU GETTING ENOUGH?

December 3rd, 2014

I realise I may sound like your mother right now … and I promise I’m not going to start discussing bowel movements … but after reading this blog you may find that, like many, you’re not getting enough fibre in your diet. While this may sound a little ho-hum, I find most peoples ears prick up when I mention the fact that increasing your fibre intake can help you to shed body fat!

While we all know about having fibre to ‘keep you regular’, many don’t realise the important role it plays in fat loss, satiety, heart health, reducing your risk of certain cancers, your immune system, IBS, inflammation, blood sugar regulation and production of healthy gut flora.

New research shows dietary fibre can cause a shift in the gut towards more beneficial bacteria which may have the potential to assist in weight loss, while also reducing the risk of colon cancer, type 2 diabetes and other diseases.

In a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was noted that those individuals who had more bacteroidetes (good gut bacteria) tended to be leaner.

Obesity is an ever growing epidemic in the developed world and constant research is emerging looking at a diverse range of actions that may assist in a greater understanding of this problem. It should also be noted that sugars and refined carbohydrates are a major culprit in upsetting the balance of gut flora.

Women require a minimum of 25 grams of fibre per day, whilst men require more than 30 grams.

This means that in a diet consisting of three meals a day would need approximately 8-10 grams in each meal. When you see the chart below, you will appreciate how much plant food you need to consume to come anywhere near this quota. Some foods you may think are good sources are often not the best. As you’ll see below, plenty of colourful, fresh plant foods are some of the best choices available. Try challenging yourself by keeping a food diary over the next seven days to see how you rate your own fibre intake. Increasing to 8-10 grams per meal will not only benefit your overall health…it may help you to shift a few pesky kilos of body fat!

Food Fibre (g)
Breakfast cereals
Rolled oats 50g 4
“The Muesli” 50g 4.7
Sanitarium Cornflakes, 30g 1
Kellogg’s Special K, 30g 1
Bread
White, 1 slice, 25g 0.6
Wholemeal, 1 slice, 30g 1.8
Multi-grain, 1 slice, 30g 1.4
Nuts and Seeds
Almonds, raw, 30g 4.3
Cashews raw, 30g 2.5
Sunflower seeds, 30g 3.3
Psyllium husks, 1 tablespoon 4
Fruits
Apple, large, with skin 6
Avocado, 1/2 medium 2
Banana, medium 3
Kiwi Fruit, medium 3.5
Orange, large 5.5
Tomato, large 3
Blackberries, raspberries, 100g 7.5
passionfruit 3
Vegetables
Asparagus, 5 spears 1.5
Broccoli, 1 cup 8
Beans, green, 1 cup 3.6
Carrot, 1 medium 4.2
Cauliflower, 1 cup 4
Spinach, 1 cup 3.4
Artichoke, 200g 7
Mushrooms, 100g 2.5
Mixed vegetables (frozen), 1 cup 6
Pumpkin, 150g 5

If you want to lose a kilo a day…read on!

November 25th, 2014

It’s the nature of our fast-paced lifestyle. We all want to lose weight and we’d like it to happen yesterday. This burning desire is what keeps weight loss books, products and pills thriving.

Now I know you were all excited when you read the headline on this blog. You, like millions of others, are still looking for the magic carpet ride to a better body.

The good news is that you will get amazing results in a timely manner if you follow my program. The bad news is that while it’s possible to lose ‘weight’ quickly, it is not possible to lose ‘body fat’ quickly. Burning body fat requires a physiological process, which means you have to be in debt 7,700 calories to shed one kilogram of stored body fat. To put this into perspective, you burn around 300 calories in an hour of walking.

Marketing gurus are paid millions to research our vulnerabilities when it comes to weight loss and ruthlessly take aim at the sweet spot: fast and easy! They are telling you what you want to hear – it’s not your fault, it’s out of your control and their ‘product’ will fix it for you. Seriously, you’re smarter than this. You can’t fall for it – again!

There is a TRICK that weight loss companies and product manufacturers are NOT TELLING YOU!

Whether it’s a pill, a meal replacement shake, pre-packaged foods or a ‘special’ diet regime, all of them are basically another repackaged way of getting you to eat less food. Generally the calories will be deliberately set below your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is your minimum requirement needed to sustain your current lean body mass (muscle). In this case, the following will occur (no exceptions!):

  1. Your body stores a source of fuel in your muscles and liver (glycogen).  On average, this weighs approximately 0.5 kilo. Each gram of glycogen holds 3 grams of water (1.5 kilos), so your initial ‘miraculous’ weight loss of 2 kilos in the first day or two is almost guaranteed. Those pitching this product/program to you are blatantly aware of this, as their bank balance begins to rise, you’re hooked – telling everyone in earshot about this amazing new miracle diet. And you haven’t yet lose a single gram of body fat, yet we’re conditioned to that deceptive number on the scales.
  2. If your calories remain lower than your BMR over the next week or so, your body will go into ‘survival mode’. It will assume there is not enough food available so it will adapt by reducing the very thing that is burning up all of those pesky calories for you – muscle. Muscle is your ‘engine’. The less muscle, the lower your BMR. Your body is trying to make your ‘engine’ smaller to preserve your life.
  3. Now here’s where it gets ugly. Dieting is like holding your breath. Sooner or later you will go back to eating ‘normally’. But of course now your body’s clever metabolic adaptations means you now have a much lower requirement for food, so you will store the excess as body fat. Now you have less muscle and more fat. Even if you don’t regain ALL of the ‘weight’ lost, you will likely be lighter, but fatter. And so the cycle continues. Sound familiar?

I’ve known people who have spent the last 10 years trying to lose fat fast – and they’re still not there! So take a deep breath, turn your back – once and for all – on the silly diet scams and take responsibility for your own body. There is no quick fix, but there is a fix. It doesn’t happen at lightning speed, but you can’t expect to undo a lifetime of bad habits in a week.

Agave syrup – healthy alternative or liquid poison?

November 10th, 2014

Agave nectar (or syrup) is basically high-fructose corn syrup impersonating a healthy sweetener. Many manufacturers and marketing gurus have jumped on the ‘facts’ about the health-promoting properties of agave. While the ‘blue agave’ species is grown in rich volcanic soil, there is unfortunately no evidence that any of these compounds remain present in the commercially manufactured syrup.

Agave is much sweeter than cane sugar and it pours more readily than honey. It’s also low-glycemic and, for this reason, is often marketed to diabetics and those wishing to lose weight.

While that all sounds like it’s the nectar of health, now let’s look at the facts…

The reason agave is low-glycemic is due to the fact that it is composed predominately of fructose. Agave nectar boasts the highest fructose content of any commercial sweetener.

So what does this mean?

All sugars are a mix of glucose and fructose. Regular cane sugar is 50:50. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is 45:55 in favour of fructose. Agave nectar is 90:10…almost twice as high as HFCS!

When fructose is found naturally in fruit, it is relatively low (apples are 7% fructose) and it is accompanied by a combination of fibre, antioxidants and other nutrients. Unfortunately, when we extract this and concentrate the fructose into a sweetening agent, it can have dire health consequences.

Fructose causes a myriad of metabolic issues, such as insulin resistance and increased triglycerides (a risk factor for heart disease), increased visceral fat (around the abdomen & internal organs) and increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes. In fact, diabetics are warned not to consume fructose. Fructose digests like a fat – via the liver – and has been linked to non-alcoholic fatty-liver disease.

All-in-all, agave and other commercially produced ‘syrups’ are no healthier for you than plain old sugar. My advice? Try training your taste-buds to enjoy the flavours in food rather than feeling the need to sweeten everything. The less ‘sweet’ you have the less you want. If this is not an option, try using naturally sweet foods, such as a passionfruit or berries or, if you must, a touch of Stevia.

Metabolic suicide :: the recovery mission!

October 20th, 2014

Re-boot your metabolism for permanent fat loss

Reality television shows are earning top ratings by flaunting the dramatic weight loss of   individuals desperate enough to endure punishing diet and exercise regimes.

Next time you hear someone moaning about a super restrictive diet, understand that it isn’t just a hissy fit. It’s real. The emotional and physical torment of deprivation challenges the very core of human nature and its inherent survival instincts.

Each time you jump from low carbs to low fat to low calories to high protein you are harming yourself. No-one wants to be fat and it’s great to become pro-active about getting in shape but we have to wise up about how it’s done. It won’t happen with fads, starvation or anything that even resembles torture but by re-booting your metabolism, it will happen and the best news is that it can stay that way. Diets which restrict calories too far may cause a reduction in weight but it almost always causes a reduction in metabolism. Once you begin on this downhill spiral, you are entering a destructive cycle where it is virtually impossible to lose fat without starving and over-exercising.

Too many people are following fads with the best intentions but inadvertently damaging their bodies by losing muscle tone, depleting your fat-burning capacity, your metabolism, your self-esteem, not to mention your overall health and energy levels. When you starve your body your fat-storage enzymes become ultra-efficient, stocking up on fat reserves in preparation for the next famine. Not unlike a bear in hibernation, in preparation for the next anticipated ‘drought’, your body will become a skilful fat-storing machine!

The good news is that even the most seasoned ‘yo-yoers’ can retrain their bodies and re-boot their metabolism, enticing those fat-releasing enzymes out of submission.

You expend energy/kilojoules regardless of your activity levels – even during sleep. Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) represents the energy your body burns over a 24-hour period to maintain normal functions and sustain life, without activity. This is determined by your age, height, weight, gender and, most importantly, your level of lean body weight (muscle tissue). Men commonly have a higher metabolic rate than women due to the fact that they have more lean muscle. Muscle tissue is more metabolically active than stored fat tissue and therefore requires more energy to maintain.

Over-restrictive dieting can reduce your BMR by as much as 20 per cent!

Your BMR generally decreases with age and this decrease is exacerbated by kilojoule-restriction that leads to lean muscle loss. The less muscle / lean weight you have, the lower your metabolism. Fad diets often encourage the loss of lean weight because it produces a favourable result on the bathroom scales (lean muscle is heavier and more dense than stored body fat), however, this only works to your detriment in the long-term. Conversely, if you eat a sensible amount of kilojoules and participate in regular strength-promoting exercises, your metabolism can be rejuvenated and maintained for a healthy, lean, permanent result.

A sluggish metabolism causes an inefficient environment to effectively burn kilojoules, making you prone to excess body fat storage and making fat loss increasingly difficult. In an attempt to lower kilojoule intake, we inadvertently consume fewer calories and consequently, fewer nutrients. With this comes low energy levels and sluggish digestion, just at a time where higher energy levels are necessary for simple maintenance, let alone fat loss.

When your metabolism is functioning at its optimum, you have the freedom to consume more food without storing excess fat. Excessive exercise becomes completely unnecessary to maintain a fit, lean and energetic body. A higher level of nutrients can be consumed to promote optimum health and energy, without the looming risk of excess fat storage. In essence, your body becomes an efficient fat-burning machine!

Estimating your personal BMR …

The most accurate way to calculate your BMR is to have your body fat measured, however, the chart below will provide you with an indicative figure to get you on the right track:

Age BMR (men) BMR (women)
10-17 17.7 x weight (kg) + 657 13.4 x weight (kg) + 692
18-29 15.1 x weight (kg) + 692 14.8 x weight (kg) + 487
30-59 11.5 x weight (kg) + 873 8.3 x weight (kg) + 846
60-74 11.9 x weight (kg) + 700 9.2 x weight (kg) + 687
75+ 8.4 x weight (kg) + 821 9.8 x weight (kg) + 624

For example, a 32 year old female weighing 68kg:  8.3 x 68 + 846 = 1410 BMR

Tips for correcting metabolic meltdown …

1. Don’t allow your body to go into ‘starvation mode’. Keep your kilojoule intake just above your Basal Metabolic Rate and don’t skip meals in an attempt to lose weight

2. Don’t be seduced by over-restrictive fad / short-term diets that promise ‘fast’ weight loss. The weight you lose will likely be your valuable lean muscle!

3. Be consistent, but not excessive, with your exercise regime. Incorporate both strength and cardiovascular elements and remember quality, not quantity.

4. Limit your intake of over-processed, kilojoule-dense and nutrient-poor foods. Stick to ‘real’, unrefined and nutritious alternatives. It need not be time-consuming or boring to eat well!

5. Re-asses your goals and make a promise to yourself to change your daily habits for a lifetime,  not simply to fit into your new jeans on the weekend!  Remember, the physical and emotional torture of yo-yo dieting is a price too high to pay.

Things we all need to know (but nobody tells us) about Lycra!

September 15th, 2014

Having had the privilege of living through the past 25 years or so of the evolution of exercise attire, from leg warmers to g-strings worn on the outside of our tights (circa 1980), I feel it’s time for me to offer a few pearls of wisdom. Rather than taking offense, think of me as the honest friend who is brave enough to tell you the truth and, hopefully save you from any future source of embarrassment or regret!

The science behind wearing  Lycra

There are very few physiques flattered by lycra, but here are a few things we need to be aware of:

Tight underwear and the consequent VPL (visible panty line) is unflattering for several reasons. Tight elastic digs in to your bottom, gusset lines are often visible and a tight fitting full brief tends to create phenomena so aptly coined by one of my clients … the low-slung-bum!  Tight full-briefs create a kind of ‘hammock’ from cheek to cheek, forcing the tights to sit low (as opposed to a g-string or seamless brief which allows the tights to follow your natural contours, making your legs look longer and your bottom appear ‘higher’ and more shapely).

On the other hand, beware of the summer-weight or ‘worn thin’ tights. While they may look good in your bedroom mirror, bending over can reveal a little more than you may realise! As for men in Lycra – not without shorts over the top please! If you’re part of the MAMIL set, please, no white, bright or light colours. Black only please.  Ladies: Patterns and thick tights in dark colours can disguise any ‘curves’ you may wish to cover up.

** Important note: Men running or at the gym  – tights (without shorts) are NOT pants!

Finally, if you’re not convinced, please see Exhibit A below :-)

Muscle: your most valuable asset

August 18th, 2014

Are you one of the thousands of Australians enthusiastically pounding the pavement to work off some of that extra winter-flab? Before you take another step, you need to know

WHY WE NEED MUSCLES FOR FAT LOSS.

There has been an urban legend floating around for decades now that we must start a fat-loss regime with plenty of aerobic exercise to strip off the excess lard before tackling the weight-training for tone and shape. After all, muscle builds ‘bulk’ and your goal is to reduce your size, right?  But like many urban legends, this too is utter twaddle!

While aerobic exercise burns calories during execution, our participation is commonly restricted by both time and energy. Even if you were able to walk or run daily for an hour, what about the other twenty-three hours in your day? This is where strength training comes in.

Strength training is extremely important to kickstarting and maintaining fat loss for several reasons:

  1. strength training increases your lean body weight by stimulating muscle growth
  2. calories are burned in the central powerhouse of your muscle cells, know as mitochondrion
  3. your basal metabolic rate burns the majority of your daily calories and this is increased in tandem with muscle gain
  4. more muscle means a more efficient fat-burning ‘furnace’, 24/7 – not simply during exercise sessions

A ‘healthy’ range of body fat for men is between 12 and 18 percent. For a woman, 18 to 28 percent. This is why your weight on the scales is not an accurate guide to improving health, fitness tone, shape or size.

Muscle strength usually peaks between the ages of 20 and 30 years. After the age of 30, untrained muscle begins to decline. Statistics tell us that there is a 7 kilogram muscle loss and 14 kilogram fat gain between the ages of 30 and 60, with a 25% muscle loss between the ages of 50 and 75. While many are concerned about gaining too much muscle, the concern should actually be about managing a ‘normal’ amount of lean muscle.

This results in a loss of lean body weight and a consequent reduction in metabolism. The most dramatic decline in muscle occurs after the age of 70.

Sure you can lose ‘weight’ with aerobic exercise alone, but you will often end up as a smaller version of the flabby person you were trying to whittle away. Significant gains in muscle tone, definition or strength are rarely achieved as a result of aerobic activity.

The bottom line:

-          Muscles help burn fat 24/7

-          It’s almost impossible to gain too much muscle (it’s like being worried about earning too much money!)

-          We’re talking about increasing muscle density, not necessarily size. If you take a gold wedding band for example, whether it’s 9ct or 18ct gold, it doesn’t change size – just composition.

If you’re trying to beat your winter flab into submission by pounding the pavement, think again. Train smart, not hard…and don’t forget about your strength!

OMEGA-3: Are you getting enough?

August 4th, 2014

Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid (we need to consume it in our diet), yet it’s one of the toughest to get from our food on a daily basis. Omega 6 is also essential, but it is in abundance in our diet. In fact, most of us are getting too much Omega 6 and nowhere near enough Omega 3. Omega 6 can act as a pro-inflammatory and it can promote thickening and clotting of the blood. Omega 3 is an anti-inflammatory and helps to thin the blood. This is why a balance between the intake of these two oils is essential for optimum health. The ideal ratio is 1:1, however most Western diets are more like 20:1 to 50:1 in favour of Omega 6! (see chart below)

Fish oil is the natural oil found in the body of the fish. It is different from fish liver oil as it contains a high concentration of Omega 3, known as EPA and DHA. These fatty acids work on all cells of the body, ensuring that nutrients and chemical messages can pass smoothly from cell to cell throughout all body systems.

Here are a few facts you may find interesting:

-          During pregnancy, the growing baby relies solely on its mother for DHA supply, which is required for healthy development of the baby’s brain and eyes.  During lactation, mums should also keep up their DHA intake to ensure adequate supply through breast milk. This will also replenish the levels of new mums.

-          Due to the risk of mercury toxicity in our fish supply, it is difficult to consume adequate fish to satisfy our need for Omega 3. For this reason, you may consider the addition of flaxseed oil and fish oil supplements to your daily diet. **

-          As much as 37% of school-aged children never or rarely eat fish. With fish playing such an important role in the structure and function of the brain and immune system, it’s not surprising that learning difficulties and allergies are some of the major challenges that parents face these days.

-          Fish oils contribute to healthy heart function in several ways, such as managing healthy fat levels in our blood, increasing HDL (good) cholesterol and reducing inflammation.

**please seek advice from your doctor before taking supplements as they may be contraindicated with certain medications and medical conditions

UNDERSTANDING DIETING METHODS AND FAT LOSS

July 17th, 2014

[extract: 'Fat or Fiction']

Use your intellect and you won’t need willpower!

How to detect a ‘rip off’ weight loss plan

If a weight loss program prescribes a reduction in calories below your BMR together with:

  • no exercise or physical effort
  • unrealistic promises of fast weight loss or
  • sales of the latest cream, pill or potion,

you can be confident that it is a scam! Such ‘magical’ programs will not only disappoint you through lack of promised results, but they may also harm your health, not to mention burning a hole in your pocket.

Some side-effects of such programs may include:

  • loss of lean tissue (predominantly muscle), causing your BMR to decrease.  In short, this mean that fat gain occurs when normal calorie intake is resumed (remember the twins) … hence the so-called yo-yo syndrome
  • loss of vital nutrition
  • a lack of energy and endurance, which automatically reduces fat-burning activity

Many commercial programs actually discourage exercise, particularly weight training.  The reason behind this is that they teach you to measure your progress by the scales.  They want you to see quick results, therefore, loss of muscle tissue is going to show a greater reduction in total body weight – very deceiving!  If you were to retain your lean tissue (muscle) and lose only stored body fat, this would hinder their desired outcome on the scales!

Even if these magic diet plans do not appear to be focusing on calorie restriction, they usually are.  Low fat means low calorie, plain and simple.  Fat has the highest value of calories of all the nutrients we consume.  One gram of fat has nine calories, one gram of protein or carbohydrates has four calories.  You may automatically reduce your total calorie intake when you begin to eat the types of food that your body requires for optimal nourishment.  When the body is satisfied with a balanced, daily intake of vitamins, minerals and all essential nutrients, your volume of food may be greater, however, the caloric value is quite often less and you lose food cravings.  It is still important, however, not to drop below your basal metabolic requirement.

The human body is a remarkable machine.  It will adapt and adjust its system to preserve life.  I t will continue to fine-tune all systems and functions as we try to trick and out-smart it.  If your main focus is on the bathroom scales, you are probably quite proud of yourself for exhibiting the willpower to diligently adhere to your latest calorie restrictions.

As many of us have discovered, it takes incredible willpower to voluntarily sustain feelings of hunger for prolonged periods of time.  Restricting calories is like holding your breath … when you begin to breathe again, you gasp for copious amounts of oxygen; after calorie deprivation you are desperate to feast!

With the lower metabolic rate you have created by losing valuable muscle tissue, that fat will be cascading down those thighs again in no time!  I think that most of us, men and women alike, would like to re-shape our bodies, as opposed to keeping the same shape and just getting a little smaller.  If you do not focus your efforts on changing your body composition, but instead on weight loss, at best, you will become a smaller version of the shape you are now and probably not permanently.  Generally, after several attempts at this spasmodic ritual, our bodies look and feel in worse shape than when we began!

Perhaps this explains why the latest research has proven that 95% of all weight loss clinic clientele regain lost weight.

It is usually at this point that we begin to search for blame.  Age is one reason I hear repeatedly.  As we age we become less active, full stop!  Picture a family get-together.  What are the children doing and what are the adults doing?  Well, I immediately see the image of adults lazing around the food area, eating, drinking and catching up on the latest gossip … probably complaining about how they have just eaten too much food! The children, however, are running, playing and are far too busy to even think about food, until their parents force them to sit still for long enough to eat something!

And, you must have heard this:  ‘It gets harder and harder to lose weight as you get older and, anyway, you are more susceptible to injuries if you exercise too much’.

Obviously, as we get older, we have more responsibilities, less time, perhaps a sedentary job, a vehicle to take us everywhere – excuses, excuses, excuses!  We create these habits, so therefore it is completely within our power to make changes, at the very least, to modify our lifestyle, without great time commitments, to allow for a healthier and more active existence.

Changing the nutritional composition of your diet in ways that are compatible with your lifestyle, and increasing your daily activity and therefore the calories burned, combine to give you a sustainable, logical and healthy method of losing stored body fat … forever!