Tag Archives: diet

What Are Your Scales Telling You Really?

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I’m not advocating that you should throw out your scales but you should be aware that your scales don’t tell you what you need to know most and that is “what are your body fat percentages and distribution?” It’s not just our health we seek to improve when we aim to lose weight, let’s be honest we want to look as good as we feel. In fact the two go hand in hand, often times the better you look the better you feel. By far the best way to look fitter and be healthier is to shift the focus of your efforts from losing weight to gaining muscle and lowering your overall body fat percentage.

Measuring your body fat percentage is a great way to keep track of your progress. It’s a far more accurate indicator of your fitness level than weight alone. That’s because when you’re working out regularly, your muscle mass goes up and your fat goes down, sometimes it’s an even swap and the readout on your standard scales won’t necessarily reflect that change. Knowing your body fat levels gives you a better indicator of how well your program is working. A healthy range for women is 20 to 25 percent, but for a leaner more defined look aim for around 18 to 22 percent and for men 18 to 24 percent with an athletic look coming in at around 14 to 17 percent. N.B. everyone is different and different bodies will have different appearances even if the percentage body fat is the same, this can be attributed to bodyfat distribution. If you have reached 18% body fat or lower now is the time to switch your focus to building muscle. At this point it isn’t necessary to concentrate your efforts on losing much more bodyfat indeed it can start to become unhealthy. You need a minimum amount of fat on your body in order to perform optimally and not have symptoms such as Amenorrhea, bone loss, and low energy.

Types of Measurements
There are a number of ways to get your body fat percentage measured. Some of the more common include; hydrostatic weighing, bio-impedance scales, and skin fold callipers.


Hydrostatic weighing
Hydrostatic weighing is the most accurate way to gauge body fat percentage. Unfortunately, it’s not the most practical—it involves being dunked under water in a gigantic water tank, while exhaling entirely.

Skin fold calliper
Skin fold callipers can also be accurate, but there’s a catch—you have to be measured by the same skilled person like myself, every time. This eliminates measuring differences from person to person. If you are working with a trainer who has been trained to use skin fold callipers, they should measure you once a month with callipers to get the most accurate assessments.

If you don’t have a trainer to help you out, however, your best bet is to use a bio-impedance scale. To get the most accurate measurement on a scale, always do it at the same time of day and make sure you are hydrated properly. The most common issues that will throw the scale off are varying levels of hydration, ladies if it’s that time of the month (don’t measure yourself during menstruation), or if you have food in your stomach.

Clothing indicators
Finally, my favourite tool: A pair of jeans. They don’t lie. Use a pair of jeans that you can’t button and try them on every 3-4 weeks to see if you are making progress. Whether the scale is budging or not doesn’t matter if your jeans are buttoning.

Muscular Male Torso Isolated on White

Ways to Lower Your Body Fat
There are two ways to lower your body fat: Lose fat (obviously), and build muscle. Extra muscle will rev up your metabolism to help burn off some of the fat. Plus, it’ll make you look leaner overall.

The best way to decrease your body fat percentage is to use a full body strength training program two to three times a week, using heavier weights with lower reps. This will stimulate your body to build lean body mass while burning fat. For the best fat-torching results, add in one to two days of interval-training cardio on top of your lifting routine.

And, of course, you cannot train with a bad diet so you’ll need to dial in your food by fueling your body highly nutritious protein, fruits, and veggies throughout the day.

Check out some of my other articles on diet and training or for more intense training tips visit my sibling site manicworkouts.com


Why Processed Foods Are Deadly to your Health


This is more about what not to do than it is a health tip.
If you want to eat healthy, you want to stay away from processed foods.  But what are processed foods?  Processed foods are foods that have been altered from their natural state. They are foods that have been compromised by the addition of hormones, additives, preservatives, unnatural genetic material or other chemical or heat treatments that alter or destroy the natural healthy enzymes, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, all for the sake of convenience. But convenience isn’t the only thing you get when you eat processed foods. There’s a whole list of ingredients that manufacturers add:

Colour – It gives your orange pop that neon glow

Stabilizers – So your gravy isn’t watery

Emulsifiers – Who says oil and water can’t mix?

Bleach – Let’s disinfect and deodorize

Texturisers – Nothing’s worse than soggy cereal…

Softeners – It’s as if the ice cream was churned twice

Preservatives – What if you want to eat the cake six months from now?

Sweeteners – Sugar is sweet but saccharin and aspartame are sweeter

Deodorisers – Do you really want to smell the fish paste in your insta-noodles?

Flavourings – Nothing like having the sweet taste of cherry all year round.

The main goal of food processing is to lengthen the shelf life of foods so that larger amounts can be sold over time.  Other benefits include toxicity reduction, preservation, easing marketing and distribution tasks and increasing food consistency. In addition it increases the out of season availability of many foods and enables transportation of delicate perishable food over long distances. Processed foods are cheaper to mass produce than the individual production of meals from raw ingredients. They are quicker to prepare at home or on the go, fully prepared ready meals can be heated up in a microwave oven within minutes.

Even slight processing of food can have a huge effect on its nutritional composition. The food may be missing necessary vitamins and minerals the body needs for daily function. Food Additives are substances added to food to preserve flavour or enhance its taste and appearance.  Food acids are added to make flavours “sharper”, and also act as preservatives and antioxidants.  Some artificial food additives have been linked with cancer, digestive problems, neurological conditions, ADHD, heart disease or obesity. Natural additives may be similarly harmful or be the cause of allergic reactions in certain individuals. Ever notice that the sources of the ingredients in processed foods are shrouded in mystery? Food manufacturers even patent some of the processing methods they use. For example, the process for making Splenda, an artificial sweetener, is a big secret and patented with the USA.If you have to keep the process for how a food is made a big secret, it probably means that if people knew the process, most of them wouldn’t eat the food.

Here’s a not so short list (but by no means all) of some common processed foods most of which have very long shelf lives.

White wheat flour; especially bleached white flour.
Refined sugars; crystalline fructose, maltodextrin, dextrose, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, maple syrup, date sugar, cane sugar, brown rice syrup, corn sugar, beet sugar, agave syrup.
Margarine and other hydrogenated vegetable fats.
Refined vegetable oils.
Artificial sweeteners.
Food additives.
Canned foods.
Boxed foods such as meal mixes, cereal and pasta.
Soft drinks and sugary “fruit” drinks, which are loaded with white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial colours, flavours and other food additives.
Fast food, which is a source of trans fats.
Cheese food, packaged cakes and cookies, chips, snack food crackers and other junk food.
Processed meat products (sausage, bologna, bacon, packaged ham, and salami) if they contain artificial colours and soy fillers.
Frozen foods such as TV dinner meals, fish sticks, pizza rolls and similar foods.
Soy products such as soy milk, soy cheese, soy protein isolate, and other processed soy foods. Natural soybeans taste horrible; it’s Nature’s way of warning about the dangers of soy. In order to make soy products edible, soy manufacturers have to add large amounts of sugar, MSG and other flavourings and spices.
Powdered milk and eggs: Commercial milk powders contain oxysterols (oxidized cholesterol) in high amounts. The oxysterol free radicals have been suspected of being initiators of atherosclerotic plaques. Powdered eggs contain even more oxysterols.

Methods used to process food include:
canning, jarring, freezing, refrigeration, dehydration, aseptic processing, boxed and bagged.

To help lift moods and help calm anxiety, keep away from processed foods and eat more natural products. Try and eat healthy, whole foods diet with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits. Try and include foods that are rich in B vitamins, such as whole grains, nuts, green vegetables, eggs and fish.

Pretty scary eh? I thought so.

Ever wondered how your body actually burns fat?


Let’s start by working backwards, how do we get fat?

A few years ago a popular health magazine decided to try to answer that same question by reasoning that if we knew all the “tricks” to gaining weight, we could learn what “not” to do if we wanted to stay lean.

So they picked a group whose job requires them to maintain enormous stores of body fat – Sumo wrestlers. If we knew what they did we might learn what not to do so they looked at what Sumo’s did to get fat and this is a simplified description of much how they go about it.

They had a strict daily workout regime with as much rest as possible in between workouts, they took a lot of short naps and then at the end of the day, they ate their one meal, a massive calorie dense amount of food and beer that would make an all you can eat buffet at the local gastro pub seem skimpy. Shortly after this multi-thousand calorie feast they’d go straight to bed for the night.

So what can we learn from this? One reason this technique is so effective for weight gain is that it mobilizes every fat-storing mechanism we have in our body. The point here is that if you want to burn fat instead of store it, you have to learn how to turn off your “fat storing mechanisms,” and instead turn on your “fat burning mechanisms.”

So here’s the simplified biochemistry behind the Sumos’ weight gain…

When you eat a big carbohydrate rich meal, it sends your blood sugar soaring. The body immediately releases a hormone (insulin) whose job it is to control that sugar and get it out of the bloodstream and into the muscle cells. The ting is when the muscle cells don’t need it, like if you’re not moving around much and are inactive, insulin takes that sugar and shuttles it into the fat cells. No wonder insulin is also known as the “fat-storing hormone.” Insulin does its work with the help of an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase (LPL), which is kind of like the “fat-storing enzyme.” LPL takes triglycerides (fats) from the bloodstream, breaks them down into smaller parts (fatty acids), and then promptly helps store these fatty acids in your fat cells.

Once insulin is released into the bloodstream, it effectively locks the doors to the fat cells. They won’t open up and release their potential energy stores (that is, you won’t burn fat) until insulin levels come back down. Of course, the more you continue to eat that same high carb diet, the less your insulin levels go down. That’s the biochemistry put very simply, and it works that way whether you’re a couch potato or you’re a professional Sumo wrestler.

So Just How DO You Burn Fat?

You do the exact opposite of everything I just said, and here’s why …
Insulin has a sister hormone, and its name is glucagon. It’s a critical component involved in fat burning biochemistry. When blood sugar is low, and you need more energy, (but food isn’t available), glucagon is secreted into the bloodstream. Its purpose is the exact opposite of insulin’s. Glucagon goes into the cells and causes fat to be released. And it does so with the help of a fat-burning enzyme called hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL).

Much as glucagon is the “opposite” of insulin, HSL is the “opposite” of LPL, the fat-storing enzyme I spoke of earlier. HSL breaks down triglycerides (a form of fat stored in your cells) into fatty acids and glycerol, so as they travel around the bloodstream they can be burned for energy or excreted.  This glucagon-HSL partnership makes up part of the fat burning process.

To sum it all up and working backwards, we start to see the obvious: Fat burning (and weight loss) won’t take place unless the fat-burning components (glucagon/ HSL) are all in place.

The fat burning switch is in the “off” position as long as insulin levels are high. Insulin levels are high whenever blood sugar is high, and blood sugar is typically high in response to high-carbohydrate meals. Therefore the solution to the problem involved in “how to burn fat” is pretty simple. Keep blood sugar in a safe, moderate range where it won’t trigger an insulin spike. By keeping blood sugar (and insulin) down, you allow glucagon/HSL, the fat-burning switch, to do it’s magic.

If you want to trigger your fat-burning switch, you have to learn to eat in a way that won’t trigger excess insulin. Fortunately, that isn’t that hard to do. I’ll tell you more about how to do this by understanding the dangers posed by high glycaemic indexed carbs, processed foods and bad fats in future posts.

Thanks for reading!

Fourteen day kick start diet to fat loss and better health


Fast & Simple Fat Loss with Clever Eating

It is possible to lose 15 lbs of body fat in 14 days simply by eating right.  Provided you have 15 lbs to lose. I should point out that I always encourage people to exercise but if your nutrition isn’t spot on you will still struggle to shed fat.
When you are in touch with the way your body reacts to diet and exercise manipulating your nutrition can transform your body almost overnight. You don’t have to be an elite athlete to do this; in fact it’s often easier if you’re not.  More likely than not you will have been eating the same way for years and the next 14 days will throw your body into the hyper fat burning zone. This way of eating can shed body fat and put on muscle but to also completely change your blood lipid profile.  High cholesterol and triglycerides are brought back into the normal range in less than 30 days with this nutrition plan.  This way of eating is often called “Nutrition Cycling” and is extremely effective.

So for the next 14 days here’s what you’re going to aim for and the strategies you are going to use.

Strategy # 1: Eat all the protein you want.
You can eat: Beef, Eggs, Lamb, Seafood, Pork and Chicken, Turkey or even Ostrich if you can get it.

Strategy #2: Limit your carbohydrates to 30 grams a day or less.
Although you can have any carbs you want as long as you stay under 30 a day, I’d suggest sourcing your carbohydrates from the following sources or similar.
Spinach, Broccoli, Asparagus, Brussels Sprouts and Cabbage. By eating veg you can eat a large volume of food while getting your vitamins and fibre into the bargain.

Strategy # 3: Water
Drink 39 ml of water per kg of bodyweight. You can also drink black coffee, tea and any zero calorie drink but water is the best.  Buy water if you want but water is water, when you mix it with coffee it’s still water. You don’t need to be a snob about it, we pay a fortune in the UK to ensure we get good quality water straight out of the tap.

Strategy #4: Don’t drink your calories.
Stay away from high calorie sugary drinks.  They do nothing but make you fat! And that includes all types of fruit juice, yes it does!

Strategy #5: Have a splurge day.
After 14 days I want you to celebrate by eating anything you want!  This will stimulate your metabolism and also fill your muscles up with glycogen so it won’t turn to fat.

Moving forward – day 15 & beyond
By taking the carbohydrates out of your diet temporarily, it trains your body to burn fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. When carbohydrates are present you body will not turn to fat stores for energy. Monday to Friday you should eat like you have for the past 14 days, pay attention to how your body responds to certain foods and if something is causing you to gain fat cut it out of your diet.  Bear in mind that the carb limit of 30 grams is a starting point and most people will do brilliantly at 30 grams of carbs a day, others will need a little more carbohydrate so pay attention to how you feel and experiment with things a little.  Most people will feel and look best in the 30 to 50 grams a day range.  Remember this isn’t a static diet like most diet plans; this diet plan should be specific to you and your unique body.

The Victory Weekend.
Every weekend following the first 14 days you can eat whatever you want for 12 to 48 hours.  You can call this the victory weekend or your splurge days.  It lets you feel human and enjoy food without looking like a diet freak!   Your body is in a constant state of physical transformation weekly with this diet, that’s why it’s important to know when to stop at the weekend. If you find that you have an unlimited appetite on weekends, that’s ok within reason but be careful. If you are eating pizza and ice-cream you may want to stop after 12 hours.  On the other hand if you are carbing up with potatoes, fruit and veg and maybe a slice or two of pizza the full 48 hours may be best.  The whole idea is to become aware of the way your body responds and adjust your food intake accordingly.

That’s why you have to be aware and notice when you start to feel bloated.  Everyone responds to food differently. I can’t emphasis this enough, keep an eye on yourself and the way your body responds.



The busy school year brings habits that encourage kids to become overweight or obese. Here’s some ideas on how to help your children lose weight or stay fit all year long. Last year, a study from the Peninsula Medical School in Plymouth UK, revealed that:
Three quarters
of parents failed to recognise their child was overweight.
33 percent of mums and 57 percent of dads considered their child’s weight to be ‘about right’ when, in fact, they were obese.
One in ten parents expressed some concern about their child being underweight when they were actually a normal, healthy weight.

Figures taken from the most recent large-scale survey in the UK shockingly reveal that 33 percent of girls and 25 percent of boys aged between two and nineteen years are obese or overweight. Parents need to be aware that healthy weight in childhood is more than an aesthetic issue, and looking good isn’t always the same as feeling good. Studies show that obesity in children and teens can be a predicter of not only a person’s weight later in life, but also overall health, longevity and quality of life. A recent study of 227,000 Norwegians who have been followed from adolescence to middle age found that those who were overweight or obese as teens were over three times more likely to die of heart disease. In addition, the risk of death from colon cancer and respiratory diseases, including asthma and emphysema, was two to three times higher in the subjects who were overweight or obese as teens. However, getting children to eat healthy and exercise sufficiently is easier said than done. Read on for tips on getting children to eat healthier and exercise more.

Nutrition Tips to Fight Obesity
Make favourite dishes healthier.
You don’t have to serve kids only salads and roast chicken. But do make their favourites, like burgers, pasta, and pizza in a healthier way. Try using olive oil instead of butter, and reducing the amount of cheese, cream, butter and other high-fat dairy products used in the recipes. Sneak extra veggies into tomato sauces, or use green peppers and broccoli as pizza toppings. For sandwiches, use whole-grain bread instead of white bread and low-fat versions of dressings like mayonnaise.
Pack a lunch.
Let your child help plan his or her weekly school lunches. Not only will you likely save money, the meal will be healthier, too.
Limit pop and fruit juice
Both contain lots of sugar and calories. If you do serve juice, dilute it with soda water to lower the calories. Keep filtered water in the fridge so it is available and cold when kids need a drink, that is if you don’t trust the tap water.
Eat meals together.
Having family meals together helps adolescents eat more fruits, vegetables, and fibre and fewer fatty foods and soft drinks. Even if you don’t have time to eat a family meal every night, make sure you have healthy options in the kitchen to avoid last-minute dinners of fast food or takeout, which tend to be higher in fat and calories than home-cooked meals. Some good options to have on hand are pre-washed lettuce, baby carrots, cold cuts of meat,  whole-grain bread and low fat spreads and dressings.
Offer treats in moderation
Ice cream, cake, sweets and biscuits can be limited to special occasions like birthday parties, holidays, amusement park trips, and other infrequent occurrences or celebrations. As alternatives, keep plenty of fruits like apples, bananas, grapes, and berries washed and easily accessible.

Exercise Tips for Losing Weight or Staying Fit
Sneak in exercise.
If you make working out into a game or play time, kids will be more interested. Try skipping, roly poly, playing tick, and jumping for children 5 to 8 year olds. Older kids can play statues, jump rope games, relay races, or run obstacle courses. The key is to make exercises “FUN”ctional. Give it a go, the old favourites are still the best. Kids love to run about and make it look effortless for hours sometimes, ever notice how all this stops when kids get fat?
Turn off the TV.
Studies have found direct correlation between the number of hours of television that children watch and their risk of obesity. Video games and computer usage contribute to the problem as well. Limit the time your child spends on these sedentary activities to no more than an hour per day.
Chores count as exercise, too.
Making the bed, mowing the lawn, and raking leaves all count as exercise. Assign older children more active chores and they’ll exercise without even knowing it.
Get extra help.
If your child’s school doesn’t offer extracurricular or organized team sports, search out programs in your local community or classes at the local school gym.
Set a good example.
Your kids watch what you do, so set a good example by improving your nutrition and exercise habits as well.


Dangers of the HCG Diet



Dangers of the HCG Diet
reblogged from “Fit and Health” website by Tom Scheve

Losing weight at the rate of a pound a day may sound tempting, but the HCG diet may pose some very serious health risks.

Taking the HCG hormone itself can cause a variety of complications that can read like the fine print in a prescription disclaimer: Users may report incidences of headaches, blood clots, restlessness, leg cramps, constipation, temporary hair thinning, depression and male breast enlargement. Also, you may feel, well, like you’re pregnant — swelling, breast tenderness and water retention, anyone? HCG can also cause a potentially life-threatening condition called ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS), in which ovaries over-stimulated by hormones can swell and leak fluid into the abdomen. This can cause abdominal pain and weight gain but can lead to blood clots, kidney failure, fluid build-up in the abdomen or chest, and electrolyte imbalances.

On top of the possible complications from the hormone, severely reduced calorie diets have their own set of side effects. While the amount of calories your body needs depends on how much activity you do every day, most adult women need between 1,800 and 2,400 calories per day, and adult men need 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day. Those trying to lose weight typically eat between 1,200 and 1,500 calories per day. At 500 calories, the HCG diet calls for only a fraction of those requirements.

When you’re on an extremely reduced calorie diet such as the HCG plan, you’re basically starving yourself. By allowing so few calories per day, it can be difficult to meet your daily nutritional needs. You may also experience some not-so-pleasant side effects such as fatigue, nausea, constipation and diarrhoea. Your hair might start falling out. Even worse, you may develop gallstones, which could require surgery to correct.

Another problem with severely restricted calorie diets is that once you go off them and start eating a regular amount of calories, you’re bound to regain some of the weight you lost.

The FDA (America) has also received at least one report of an HCG dieter who developed a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in the lung that can potentially be fatal


Proponents of the diet point out that the hormone HCG is natural and clearly safe for pregnant women and the foetus’ they carry, and that dieters receive a much smaller dose of HCG than is found under normal conditions in pregnant women.

“Bodybuilders have been injecting HCG at the end of seriously stacked steroid cycles to re-start the bodies natural testosterone production, it works but you have to inject it. Drops, pills and sprays are only available on prescription for fertility treatment and claims in respect of weight loss are mostly fraudulent. There are easier ways of losing weight.”

Does more protein build more muscle?

Does more protein build more muscle?




From an original article by Mansi Kohli, Health Me Up | Nov 25, 2011

Health experts say that as far as body building is concerned, protein recommendations for strength training are 1.2 to 1.4 for increasing strength and 1.5 to 1.7 for muscle hypertrophy.

Therefore, while extra protein might work for those exercising to optimal levels, it won’t do much for those involved in low to moderate intensity workouts and will lead to weight gain. So does more protein really help build more muscle?

The amount of protein needed to build muscles is often debated, and you will get answers from as low as 0.5g per pound of bodyweight to as high as 3g per pound of bodyweight (and even higher). The fact is that for each person it will be somewhat different depending on their genetics, size, training, stress levels, etc. A good place to start will be to calculate 1 gram per kilo of bodyweight, and add another 30-40g to get a good number to start with. Thereafter with experimentation you can find out what is the best number as per your goals.

Right balance of carbs along with protein intake is very important. A good mix of healthy carbs and healthy fat is crucial to gain muscle, lose fat and to be healthy overall. Without adequate carbs your energy levels will go low and you can say goodbye to high intensity workouts, and also proper brain health. Without healthy fats your hormone levels will never optimize and you will feel terrible overall and have poor skin and hair quality.

An ideal post workout shake ratio would be 2:1 or 3:1 carbs to protein. You can try different ratios to see what works best for you, but don’t let the carbs go below 1:1 to protein.

It is important to remember that a protein intake cycle should never be done for someone trying to lose body fat. For those trying to lose fat, subtle protein cycling will be good enough, no need to do drastic cycling since they will not be on a very high protein diet to begin with. And even then that should be done only if they are cycling their carbs which is not really required until one has come to a more advanced stage of fat loss.

Real-time benefits of protein shakes are exaggerated. The only real benefits that I see are two. First for those who need a lot, i.e. more than 200g of protein a day to build muscle. Such huge amounts of protein will be hard to get by regular food alone as it may add up to a lot of food which will be hard to digest. However to be honest, it is also true that unless one uses steroids it is unlikely that their body’s protein synthesis will be so high that they require more than 200g of protein a day.

Does more protein build more muscle?