5 Things to know about weight-loss

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There’s so much information/misinformation about losing weight. Here are the things nobody told me; the things that I wish I’d known when I started losing…

Throw Away Your Scale

No, seriously. Throw it away. For me (and I think for many people), the scale was just a way to torture myself and continue my cycle of treating myself poorly. Gain a Kg? I thought I was awful and should just stop eating at all. Lose a Kg? I’m great and should celebrate by eating a pizza. The natural up-down fluctuation of our body weight shouldn’t drive us crazy, but it can and for a lot of us, it will.

Still want to use the scale as a tool and not a crazymaker? Use a scale at the gym, or that one at the supermarket. Just don’t keep one in your house. It can be very addictive and it’s frankly a bad way to rate your progress. I can fluctuate up to 2 kgs in a given day due to water/food, glycogen retention and a lot of other issues. Weigh yourself at the same time of day in the same clothes, no more than once a week. Buy a tape measure and measure every two weeks. (Taking pictures once a month is something I really wish I’d done!) Rejoice when your pants fall down …  and, throw away your scale.

Fitness is a three-pronged approach.

You need to do cardio, weight training and flexibility training. Just do cardio and you’re on your way to skinny-fat. I see plenty of women who just do cardio and they look alright in street clothes, but when they come into the spin room, they’re just as jiggly as someone who could stand to lose a few. Just do weights and don’t incorporate flexibility training and you’re on the way to bunchy town: short, tight muscles that don’t feel or look good. Just do flexibility training and you won’t burn many calories. I do cardio, yoga and weights. This also goes a long way in preventing workout burnout. I shudder at the mere thought of just doing an hour on the treadmill every day. Boring. Mix it up. Your body and your sanity will be better for it.

What you eat is really, really important.

Remember, you cannot out exercise a bad diet … ever!

You can lose weight eating packaged, processed food with little nutritional value. But, yuck. You’ll be hungry. The portions won’t be large, the nutrients will be lacking and you’ll feel deprived.  Most nights for dinner, I have an enormous salad. Ten cups of greens, a homemade dressing with olive oil and lemon juice (or balsamic) and sometimes I throw in some chicken or seafood, or nuts or a bit of white goats’ cheese. I struggle to get that enormous bowl up to 450 calories. It’s huge.

Moral of this story? Eat your vegetables, eat your lean protein sources (and occasionally not so lean—good fats in moderation are a good thing). Eat a handful of nuts. A teeny-tiny ounce of nuts takes the edge off your hunger for hours. Remember, moderation – a handful only because just 28g of nuts is nearly 200 calories. But, nuts have it all going for them: They’re portable and they keep you full. Keeping those nuts handy will save you from many a low-blood sugar induced eating frenzy.

Calories equal energy. That’s its definition. Choose calories that are full of energy and nutrients, not full of chemicals and rubbish. Anything that’s marketed as “good for you” (I’m talking to you, 100-calorie packs) most likely isn’t. If it needs marketing (when was the last time you saw a TV commercial for an apple?), it needs to be sold. Don’t believe me? Just Google around and find some cigarette ads from the 1940s, when those were marketed as healthy and natural. The 100-calorie pack is the low-tar cigarette of our generation. Be smarter than the food industry. Eat foods with one ingredient. That’s my best diet/health advice in one sentence.

The diet and fast food industry want you to stay fat.

Any “get-thin quick” scheme is just that. They want you to “get results” and then pack the pounds back on and come back because “it worked so great the last time.” Any diet that you can’t be on the rest of your life is a bad one. You can’t repent for a month and suddenly never gain weight again.

Any industry depends on repeat business to keep afloat. The diet industry is no different. If diets worked, everyone would go on one, lose weight and keep it off and never have to shell out any money ever again. The same holds true for the processed/fast-food/chain-restaurant food industry. They want you addicted to their food, craving more and coming back. They don’t care that what they’re selling can make you fat and kill you. They just want your money.

Now, I’m not perfect. From time to time, I indulge in junk food. But it’s rare and it’s an indulgence. I hardly ever want it anymore, though, because it makes me feel awful. I can’t believe sometimes that it used to be the cornerstone of my diet.

You will go into mourning for the old you.

I’ve saved this for last because it was the most shocking to me. I lost 25 kgs, became a fit and healthy person and then got really, really depressed and didn’t know why. On some level, I finally realized, I missed my old life. I missed going out and not caring what I put into my body (it was fun at the moment). I missed feeling bad about something and knowing that as soon as I got that ice cream home it would all go away. I missed being invisible once I started getting more attention (especially from the opposite sex).

After I lost the weight, my life as I knew it was over. I got divorced from food as a coping mechanism. Food was, for a period in my life, my best friend. I had to mourn that loss. I had to spend time figuring out who this new person, who would rather go for a walk than for pizza, was. I lost friends in the process (I made new ones after a while). I had to re-learn how to cope with emotions. I had to learn that it was okay to cry rather than eat. I had to learn that it was alright to say I was upset about something out loud, using words rather than food. I had to learn that it was perfectly well and good to stand up for myself rather than eat. I had to learn how to do a lot of things rather than eat. If your change is true and lifelong, you will most likely go through this process, too.

Accept it as part of the journey you’re taking.

Combining Citrulline with Glutathione could Pump You Up

citrulline-muscleWhen working against a significant resistance for repetitions, blood flow locally increases to working muscles, increasing tone and size almost instantly. While getting your swole on can be great for the mirror, it is not just cosmetic – increasing blood flow to hard-working muscles also delivers nutrients to fuel muscle contraction.

Greater blood flow to working muscles also helps to increase cell volume, which, along with mechanical tension generated from lifting heavy weights, comprise a large part of the early ‘go’ signal for muscle adaptation.

The much sought-after “pump” in the gym isn’t just for aesthetics, it’s also an ingredient in the recipe for muscle growth.

The NO-cGMP pathway: anatomy of a pump

While the behind the scenes cell signaling that drives increased blood flow to working muscles can get a bit complicated (more on that later), a simple thought experiment gives a good overview of the process.

Let’s say you have an empty swimming pool in your backyard that you need to fill with water. So you place a small garden hose in the pool and turn on the faucet. Only nothing happens. You discover that there’s a leak in the pool, and the small amount of water delivered through the garden hose leaks out as fast as you can pump it in. Since our ultimate goal is to get that pool filled with water, there are two things we can do to this end: deliver the water faster than it leaks out, or fix the leak! If this makes sense, you now have an overview of a muscle pump: arteries supplying the working muscle dilate, allowing more blood to enter. At the same blood flow is restricted in other less active areas of the body, promoting the local delivery of increased nutrient-rich blood to hard-working muscles.

The pump effect is driven by a molecule known as nitric oxide (NO) that is part of the NO-cGMP pathway. In response to hard work, neurons release NO from nerves and endothelial cells in and around the working muscle. From here, NO makes its way to the smooth muscle cells lining blood vessels, where it binds to guanyl cyclase. This NO-guanyl cyclase interaction results in the production of cGMP. cGMP then goes on to activate downstream signaling that decreases calcium levels in the smooth muscle that lines blood vessels, leading to relaxation and arterial dilation.

While this may sound complicated, the overall concept is straightforward: NO is locally released, which increases cGMP levels, which in turn increases blood flow to working muscles.

Supplementing the pump

There’s a huge market for supplements meant to potentiate the pump by affecting the NO-cGMP pathway. Many contain large amounts of L-arginine, which is combined with oxygen by the nitric oxide synthase (NOS) enzyme to produce NO. This type of supplement is generally taken pre-workout, where a bolus of arginine with the right timing spikes blood arginine levels when it counts, increasing NO production and blood flow to working muscles.

While this looks great on paper, L-arginine supplementation is not perfect. As much as L-arginine exists at the business-end of NO synthesis, getting significant quantities into the bloodstream can be an inefficient process. A significant amount of arginine taken orally will be broken down in the liver before it ever gets into circulation. The second issue is that NO is a highly reactive molecule that is broken down soon after it is formed.

There are two main issues to using L-arginine supplementation to increase NO levels: L-arginine delivery into the bloodstream, and NO and stability.

Use Citrulline to increase blood arginine levels

Because L-citrulline is more readily absorbed than L-arginine, which is rapidly broken down in the liver before it reaches circulation, L-citrulline is a far more efficient way to increase blood arginine levels. One study in heart patients found that 3g of citrulline (as citrulline malate) was equivalent to a 6g dose of arginine, suggesting that citrulline may have twice the potency of arginine itself when it comes in increasing arginine levels in the blood stream.

Doses of citrulline in the 4-8 g range seem to be optimal for boosting pre-workout NO levels, and can be taken as free-form L-citrulline as well as citrulline malate. For the purposes of increasing blood arginine levels, these are probably interchangeable, and the malate form has shown promise in a recent study on lower-body resistance exercise, as seen in Figure 1. Keep in mind though, that 1.8g of citrulline malate is equivalent to only 1g of free-from citrulline, due to the added molecular weight of the malate salt.

citrulline3

The solution to the delivery problem is an easy fix: take citrulline instead. L-citrulline is byproduct of NO synthesis that can be converted back into arginine through the arginine-citrulline cycle.

Increase glutathione levels to stabilize NO in the blood stream

Having solved the delivery issue by taking L-citrulline, we still have a problem to overcome to maximize the potential of NO: it breaks down real fast in the blood stream. If there was a way to extend the life of NO even by a little bit, this could help to augment cGMP production and increase blood flow.

Recent research has suggested that supplementing glutathione alongside citrulline may help to do just that, potentiating NO synthesis. Glutathione is a tripeptide consisting of the amino acids cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine. It is also major cellular antioxidant that plays a role in detoxification of toxic reactive oxygen molecules such as peroxides. GSH has a connection to NO synthesis, as some cells can’t make NO in the absence of GSH. GSH also increases the activity of NOS, the enzyme that makes NO from arginine.

In a human trial, 200mg/day glutathione (GSH) alongside 2 g/day L-citrulline showed a non-significant trend toward increasing plasma cGMP levels. Although the observed increases in cGMP levels didn’t quite reach statistical significance, citrulline and GSH in combination also increased nitrate and nitrite levels more than citrulline alone. Since nitrate and nitrite also are substrates for NO synthesis, this work suggests that the overall effect of L-citrulline and glutathione supplementation may support NO production to a greater extent than L-citrulline alone.

Taking GSH alongside L-citrulline may help potentiate NO levels more than citrulline alone. While this idea has not been rigorously tested in robust larger-scale trials, the evidence is sufficient to give it a shot.

It is important to emphasize, though, that rock-solid diet, training and nutrition are the foundation for progress in any fitness endeavor. Supplements become important if you’re already firing on all cylinders, and even then, natural NO boosters such as beets may be preferred over pills.

With a basic knowledge of the nuts and bolts of NO synthesis, we can at least be better consumers, paying attention to ingredients and amounts rather than advertising hype when evaluating the value of a product. So take this information, apply it, and let us know the results!

Best Testosterone Boosters That Build Muscle Faster

 

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Testosterone is the most important hormone in your body for building muscle and getting stronger.

If you want to get jacked and make your training count, you should be doing everything you can to support your testosterone levels. The best testosterone boosters can be a good way to do it.

Some guys are genetically gifted, they will grow and grow, year on year. Other guys can drink tons of protein shakes, eat loads of steak and potatoes and switch up their workout and they still can’t grow.

A testosterone booster is designed for guys like this, hard gainers. It can be the secret to pushing past the barrier and activating new muscle growth.

Okay, so what do they actually do?

Some guys seem to think the only real way to raise your testosterone level is with steroids or pro-hormones.

However, the best way to boost testosterone safely is to take a combination of natural supplements.

 

This will help with :

  • Aiding Testosterone Production – This relies heavily on processes in the brain and the endocrine system. The needed components to accomplish this aren’t necessarily included in everyone’s diet.
  • Increasing Free Testosterone – About 60% of the T-Levels in a man’s body are bound to Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG). When bound, this testosterone loses it’s anabolic potency and can no longer be directly used. T-Boosters decrease the production of globulin, freeing up testosterone availability.
  • Decreasing Estrogen – In the body, an enzyme known as the aromatase is responsible for the production of estrogen, even if it means converting testosterone to produce it.

This is the highest form of bullshit. Getting real for a second, testosterone boosters are not as powerful as the synthetic stuff, but that doesn’t mean they’re ineffective.

Research over the last few years has discovered a number of natural ingredients that have been clinically proven to raise and support testosterone levels. Without the dangerous side-effects of steroids or pro-hormones.

We’ve dug deep and found the most effective ingredients available right now, all with real clinical studies behind them:

daaD-Aspartic Acid

An essential amino acid to the testosterone boosting process – through a reaction with the brain, D-AA helps the body release a multitude of hormones. These include the luteinizing hormone (regulator of the testes), follicle stimulating hormones and perhaps most importantly, growth hormone – a key muscle builder.

There have also been studies that believe D-Aspartic Acid to be an effective component for removing rate-limits of testosterone synthesis1.

Oyster Extract

Potentially one of the most effective testosterone increasing ingredients out there. Oysters hold a lot of zinc, up to 10 times more than the amount you’ll find in a steak. Zinc, like D-Aspartic Acid is great for releasing those luteinizing hormones and help out with raising serum testosterone levels.

That’s not all, Oyster Extract also holds 59 elements of essential bodily nutrients such as vitamins, amino acids, Omega 3 & 6 and Taurine. It has also been seen to raise IQ, help out with strength gains and raise the immune system2.

Stinging Nettle

Working closely with Sex Hormone Binding Globulin, the nettle’s ‘lignans’ which make up part of the root binds with the SHBG in place of the testosterone. This allows more testosterone to be free in the body. It has also been seen to have aromatese inhibitor qualities to lower the estrogen production rate3.

Vitamin D3

Called a vitamin, but actually a hormone. D3 is 1 of the only 24 nutrients we need to stay alive. Vitamin D3 is absorbed from the sun, but usually, we don’t get enough of it.

As modern living keeps us constantly indoors – our supply to this hormone is limited.

D3 helps release luteinizing hormones which help release testosterone, follicle stimulating hormones and growth hormone. 5 to 10 Minutes of direct sunshine a day will help raise the amount of Vitamin D in the body4.

Ginseng

This extract has been rocking the testosterone world. Ginseng has the ability to boost Nictric Oxide levels in men. In doing so it allows blood flow to massively improve giving fantastic pumps during a workout.

It also decreases the body’s glucose levels, eliminating any worries about insulin interfering with the testosterone production process. The saponins in Gingseng also improve testosterone levels and the luteinzing hormone.

It’s the Asian Red Panax Ginseng form that is the most effective5.

 

Ingredient Warning

Stay away from a product with a proprietary blend in them. This is a group of ingredients all mixed together in various amounts. It’s bad because you don’t know how much you’re getting of each ingredient.

 

Are there any side effects?

These products are not steroids. They are completely natural supplements designed to deliver nutrients that the body needs to produce the most testosterone. They don’t cause any side effects. They will not give you the usual side effects experienced by guys taking steroids.

That said, check if you allergies to any of the above. Be responsible – if you are allergic to shellfish, use your noggin and don’t go scarfing down Oyster supplements.

As with all things make informed decisions by researching the products before embarking on a course.

 

Studies

  1. Study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19860889
  2. Study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8875519

           Study: https://www.asep.org/asep/asep/BrillaV2.PDF

  1. Study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3074486/
  2. Video: http://www.nsca.com/videos/expert_tips/the_vitamin_d_and_testosterone_connection/

           Study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21154195

  1. Study: http://www.chiro.org/nutrition/FULL/Ginseng_Helps_Regulate.shtml

            Study: http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/9063034/reload=0;jsessionid=dnM5Kwqx09ut7hFOaNIQ.0

 

Fuelling Your Strength Training Workout

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It is not just important what you eat, but when you eat it is crucial to – especially as an athlete. Eating the correct foods at the appropriate time before, during and after a workout will not only properly nourish and fuel you—you may also see gains in your performance. Fuelling for strength training is slightly different than fuelling for cardio-based workouts. Here are a few tips to follow in order to get the most out of your workout.

 

1 to 2 Hours Pre-Workout

To keep you from feeling hungry before a workout, without stomach discomfort, choose a mini-meal or snack that combines healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and protein.  Depending on your personal goals and needs, the amount of food required is unique to you. An example of such meal could be an amaranth porridge sprinkled with almond milk, nuts and seeds.

 

30 Minutes Pre-Workout

Your focus should be on simple carbohydrates right before your workout. Select foods that provide quick energy and are easily digested. Fruit is a perfect example of this, as a light, easily digestible and quick on-the-go option to consume while on the way to the gym. For easy pre-workout fuel try filling a date with coconut oil for a delicious and efficient pre-workout snack!  No Protein is needed at this stage.

 

During Your Workout

During your strength-training routine, the essential components to focus on are quick energy and electrolytes. If you are training less than an hour, you can stick to electrolytes as your focus. If your workouts are longer than 45 minutes to an hour, you may want to consume easily digestible carbohydrates. Most athletes find it easier to drink than to eat during a workout, so seek out carbohydrates in a gel or drink format. You can blend up fruit and dates to make a gel, or make a fresh fruit juice for a steady burst of energy.

No matter the length of your workout, electrolytes are essential. As you sweat you lose minerals sodium, potassium, magnesium and chloride with water. When choosing an electrolyte replacement look for ones without artificial colours, flavours or fillers.

No Protein is needed at this stage.

 

Immediately Post-Workout

One of the biggest mistakes I see in action at the gym is people rushing to have their post-workout protein drink, thinking that it is the one-and-only essential macronutrient needed in order to build muscle. This is simply a myth.

Post-workout, your focus is to replenish lost glycogen stores in order for protein synthesis to occur. Simply put, you must consume simple carbohydrates first, then protein later, in order for muscle building and strengthening to occur.  Consuming a post-workout carbohydrate based drink is highly recommended due to the ease of digestibility and assimilation—less work on your body! To replenish your muscle glycogen fastest, consume a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein.

 

1 to 3 Hours Post-Workout

A high protein meal is needed several hours post-workout—not directly after—as many assume. Some plant-based protein sources include clean plant-based protein power, such as quinoa, beans, lentils nuts and seeds. If you are having a post-workout meal, include dark leafy greens for added vitamin and antioxidant support.

 

Fuelling your body on a clean, plant-based diet is the key to forming strong muscles and supporting long-term health. Follow these essential tips while working out, to see and feel the difference in your workout—and in achieving results!

What to Eat Before a Workout

 

WhatToEatBefore

 

 

Just as you put fuel in your car before driving, you want to put fuel in your body before you work out. Eating the right type of fuel at the right time before your workout will help motivate and energize your workout. Pre-exercise fuel has many functions—it prevents low blood sugar, fuels your muscles and helps to ward off hunger. By selecting the right foods before your workout you can watch your performance excel!

 

1 to 3 Hours Pre-Workout

Preparing for your workout doesn’t just happen; there are many things to consider. Selecting a well-balanced meal containing all of your macronutrients (carbs, fats, protein) and even fibre, 1 to 3 hours before your workout will help to ward off hunger and top up muscle glycogen levels. A great pre-workout meal would be a gluten-free quinoa bowl with mixed berries, topped with slivered almonds and your favourite plant based milk-alternative.

Tip: When preparing your meals, be sure to choose food that are easily digested and can settle comfortably. This will help your body to use energy during your workout rather than in digestion!

 

20 to 30 Minutes Pre-Workout

It’s game time. You’re heading out the door, and you’re in a slight rush. Whether you’ve just woken up, or just finished work, it’s time to quickly prepare your body for your workout. Two main things to consider: holistic stimulants (such as yerba maté or green tea) and easily digestible, fast-acting carbohydrates (to top up your energy levels). If you’re up early and have no appetite, consider a liquid boost such as a vege/fruit protein smoothie to enhance mental focus and provide both immediate and sustained energy.

 

Sugar-free Fuelling vs. Functional Sugar Fuelling

Different workouts have different fuelling requirements. Length and intensity are two main considerations when fuelling your body and preparing for your workout. Functional sugars (sugars or carbohydrates your body needs for energy and stamina) are used wisely when engaging in intensive workouts like weight training, Cross-fit, endurance runs or bicycle rides, especially those that last an 30 minutes or longer. Before any of those activities, drink a pre-workout smoothie (have a look at some of the options at Hemptons – Recipes). If you are engaging in a less-intense or shorter workout such as yoga, pilates or walking, a fruit – like a banana – prior to workout is a suitable option to have 20 minutes pre-workout to give you an extra-boost without the added functional sugars your body doesn’t necessarily require for a less-intense workout.

 

Food vs. Liquid Fuel

If you’d rather eat 20 to 30 minutes before you work out, a simple piece of fruit will do! If you’re bored of fruit or want to try something new, try a level tablespoon of coconut oil blended with your favourite tea or on its own! Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides which are converted by the liver into energy source (much like carbohydrates) but contain no sugar or carbohydrates!

If you have a sensitive stomach, liquid foods tend to leave the stomach faster than solid foods do. Try a fruit and/or vege smoothie or fresh fruit juice before your workout. You can even try drinking a shot of Hemptons Hemp Protein powder and 250ml, instead of a full drink. If you know you’ll be jittery and unable to tolerate any food before your event or workout, be sure to make a special effort to eat enough carbohydrates the day and night before.

 

Hydration

Preventing dehydration before exercise is one of the keys of maintaining exercise performance (especially in hot/humid environments). Leading up to your workout, be sure to drink plenty of fluids. If possible, drink extra fluid leading up to your sport or workout, until your urine is a pale colour. Drink about 2 to 3 glasses, 2 to 3 hours before exercise and around 1 glass, 10 to 15 min before exercise for optimal hydration and energy.

 

If you are hoping for success in the gym or at your game and results in the mirror, planning your pre-workout meals and hydration is crucial. There are many things to consider when fuelling for your workout but the quality and selection of the right food at the right time and proper hydration is paramount. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just be sure to schedule your pre-workout nutrition just as you schedule your workouts.

Happy fuelling!

 

References

 

Kreider et al. ISSN exercise & sport nutrition review: research & recommendations .Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2010, 7:7 http://www.jissn.com/content/7/1/7

The 5 Worst Pieces of Weight Management Advice

5WorstWeight

It all sounds so good, the endless promises and guarantees that by just following a miracle diet you’ll lose weight fast, keep it off—and get that bikini body, instantly.  You’ve heard it all before and seen many fad diets come and go, but one thing is certain, the fads never last .. and the weight never stays off.

 

“Whatever you do, just don’t eat this.”

Whenever a diet asks you to cut out a major macronutrient (that your body needs to function properly!), you know it’s not going to end pretty. Quick refresher: macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins and fats, all of which are essential for your body to function at its best. Carbohydrates are what your body uses as energy for your daily activities. Fats— good fats of course—are essential for many different functions in your body and proteins are the building blocks for muscle and you need it to help your body repair and rebuild tissue daily.

While fat-free or no-carb diets may be beneficial to individuals with certain health concerns, if it’s weight loss you’re after, you might want to try an approach more sustainable that’s going to give you the energy and strength to take your full life head-on, day after day, not deplete it. Eating a well-balanced diet including all your good quality macronutrients is a great start for successful weight management.

 

“I found the magic pill.”

It hurts to hear, but there’s no one little pill you can take to make the weight magically melt off your body for the rest of your life.

Anyone who promises their magic pill (or bean) will dissolve the fat right of off you overnight, is selling lies and making a lucrative profit off of your personal goals— which they have no ability or interest in helping you achieve.

Let’s be real: long-term weight management is all about moderation and eating a healthy diet, rich in nutrients. In other words, real food that will give you the energy you’ll need to live an active life. Exercise and a healthy diet go hand-in-hand when it comes to weight management.

 

“You’ll lose 10 pounds in 10 days!”

Doesn’t this sound fantastic?! While you might be able to achieve this, by fasting or drastically cutting calories, this is not sustainable and chances are as soon as you go back to your normal diet, the weight will find its way back to your waistline and butt.

Long-term sustainable weight management will happen when you develop a routine and slowly start to crowd the “not so good stuff” out by adding in more good-for-you foods. Keep in mind: this won’t happen overnight—this small-changes approach is one that can last a lifetime. Remember, the weight didn’t arrive overnight and will certainly not disappear overnight – no matter what you’re told. Consistently eating real food in the correct portions, is the only way the weight will come off – and stay off.

 

“Count every calorie/macro”

Not all calories are created equal and when it comes to being ultimately healthy from the inside out, you want to ensure you’re providing your body with foods that are a great source of micro-nutrients—not just the right amount of calories.

For example, say a bag of potato chips has the exact same amount of calories as a slice of whole grain bread with some avocado sliced on top, seasoned artfully with fresh dill and lemon juice. Which one of these is going to serve your body better? You’re going to eat that bag of potato chips, or eat avocado toast (that has whole grains, B vitamins and good fats). There are certainly some days that enjoying potato chips may be what you need. Most days you may decide to reach for the avocado toast.

For long-term weight management, look at the nutrients a piece of food contains before the calories. Guess what? Many plant-based foods are naturally nutrient dense. Let’s hear it for nutrient dense fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds!

 

“It doesn’t matter what you eat as long as you follow this workout routine”

Don’t get me wrong, movement is definitely part of a healthy routine. But just because you went for a run in the morning or hit the gym, doesn’t mean you get a free-pass to eat whatever you want later on. There is a saying “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet”. Just like getting a workout in at sunrise doesn’t mean your body needs a whole cheesecake for a dessert, it also doesn’t mean that you need to track every calorie you burned in a spreadsheet.

If you did a sweaty workout at the gym or in a group exercise class you’re going to want to supply your body with the right building blocks to replenish energy, repair and rebuild. What could help you achieve your goals while keeping you feeling good about your choices? Try whipping up a high-protein smoothie post-workout. Using your favourite Hemptons or Reclaim protein product, toss in some of your favourite fruits and veggies and you have yourself a recipe for both exercise and healthy eating.

What I’ve learned along the way is that no single diet is going to work for everybody. It’s all about taking it back to the basics and finding out what works for you. Focus on adding more plants, eating mindfully, moving more and finding the right balance you need.

Good advice to start with – start eating more real foods like vegetables, fruits etc. as opposed to processed “man made” foods like breads, crisps, cakes, sugars, fizzy drinks and your body will thank you by becoming healthier and leaner.

If you’re struggling with your weight, or don’t know where to start, talk to your health care practitioner or registered dietitian to help created a customized health plan for you.

Should I East Before A Workout

ShouldIEat

Whether you’re headed to your weekly soccer game, crossfit box or a new HIIT bootcamp class you’re likely to wonder, “Should I eat before a workout?”

Honestly, heading into a workout properly fuelled can mean the difference between a good and mediocre workout – and, other than working out without a grumbling tummy, the correct food will help fuel you throughout your training session, so you don’t start strong and then fade as you run out of energy. Selecting the right foods can help your performance (and body) reap the rewards.

That said, what to eat, how much to eat and when to eat it are all factors that aren’t always as cut and dried as one may think. The time of day you work out can influence your food choices and quantities. For example, if you’re exercising right after work, you might have a substantial lunch three to four hours before the workout (optimal time for digestion) followed by a snack closer to the workout if needed. However, if you’re a morning person and work out before the rest of your day starts, you may only have a small snack or drink before heading out the door.

While many fuelling guidelines before sport are dependent on the intensity of your workout and your stomach sensitivity, there are some common mistakes we should avoid.

 

Avoid these three pre-workout fuelling mistakes:

Getting too hungry

Even if you’re looking to drop a few kilos, heading into a workout session hungry can result in lower energy levels and might not help you lose weight – as your body may actually go into starvation mode. In fact, it may cause you to have a sub-optimal workout followed by over consumption of food after.

Instead, have more energy so you can work out harder, by choosing a balanced meal (that includes carbohydrates, proteins and fats) and aim to eat it with plenty of time to digest before hitting the gym, circuit or field. If you need a little something right before your workout choose something small, such as a piece of fruit or raw vegetable crudité with a nut butter.

Overeating

How much you eat is definitely dependent on a number of factors, including your size, fitness level and duration of your exercise. There was a time when it was advocated to only focus on carbohydrates as a pre-workout meal. We now know that having a meal that is more balanced to include both carbohydrates and proteins is a far better to provide you with a sustained fuel while exercising e.g. it won’t give you a lift only to drop you as your blood sugar gets depleted i.e. like when you eat or drink a high sugar food or liquid. Regardless of your activity, avoid getting trapped in the carbo-load mind-set and instead eat sensible portions and give your body enough time to digest the food prior to your workout.

Eating too much fibre

One component of carbohydrates, found in foods in varying quantities is fibre. Fibre is found naturally in foods like oats, fruits and vegetables and are often added to snacks such as granola bars and cereals. As high fibre foods, especially before exercise, may cause sensitivity in your stomach e.g. bloating, gas etc. it is recommended you stay away from these prior to excersizing. If you realy do feel like that granola bar, leave it for after.

When preparing your pre-workout meals or snacks try and choose foods that can settle comfortably in your stomach, such as piece of fruit or sports drinks/mixes that are a source of mixed carbohydrates and proteins. You may find that these foods are easy to digest before your start moving.

 

So, what are good options to reach for before your workout?

Here is a list of my top six foods  :

Banana

Any fresh fruit will do but bananas are a favourite thanks to their portability. Eat alone 30 minutes before your workout or make it more of a substantial snack by adding a nut butter. Bananas also offer your body potassium, an electrolyte required by the body that is lost during exercise via sweat.

Vegetable/Fruit Smoothie

Vegetables like beetroot and carrot are very beneficial pre-training as they not only provide nutrients, but can actually assist in boosting performance (think additional nitrogen in the case of beetroot). So blitz up a pure vege or vege/fruit combo smoothie with a scoop of plant based protein. Just give yourself enough time to digest before actually training e.g. at least an hour.

 Oats

Rolled oats are a great option to have for breakfast when you’ve got some time to digest before heading to your workout (like a weekend morning). However, because they are higher in fibre, you will want to give yourself some time to digest.

Dried Fruit and Nuts

For an easy grab-and-go option a few handfuls of dried fruit and nut trail mix can do the trick. It can be a good snack when you need something on the fly because you can get nutrients and energy for very little volume. Nuts and fruit can provide a combination of carbohydrates, good fats and protein, but watch portion sizes. Calories in dried fruits and nuts add up quickly and so does fibre.

Gluten-free or 100% Whole Grain Bread with Nut Butter and Jam

Sometimes you can’t beat a good old peanut butter and jam sandwich. For a portable snack, pack a PB&J and eat it two to three hours before leaving the office and heading to work out. The peanut butter provides protein while the bread and jam can help to top off your glycogen stores.

Sports Drinks

For the times when food just isn’t an option, consider a good sports drink – and here I don’t mean reaching for the over coloured, flavoured and sugared drinks masquerading as “sport drinks” these days. Choosing a drink that will offer you carbohydrates for energy and some proteins. A fruit juice mixed in a shaker with a helping of plant based protein powder will do the trick. If you prefer adding some caffeine, add a small helping of green tea.

Keep the container in your gym bag and shake one scoop in your water bottle before and you’ll be ready to go.

The bottom line

A hard workout, especially one significantly over 60 minutes in length, can deplete energy stores in the body. Proper fuelling of balanced meals or snacks can be effective in helping support your energy levels during the workout.

And finally, practice makes perfect. You will likely find that some foods work great before your workout and others not so much.  Practice your fuelling just like you do your sport and never test anything new on game or race day!