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Why Women Need to Lift Weights

May 13, 2013 in Blog, Blog Slideshow

By Kevin Charles

In an era where women have no problem fighting for equality at work and at home, it’s surprising that many still believe that there are places where they don’t belong, one of them being the weight room. Go into any gym and the cardio room is filled with both men and women but step into the weight room and you’ll be lucky if you see one or two among the masses of men. And yet strength training is important for all women.

As women age, they lose muscle mass. In fact, begin to lose muscle mass beginning at the age of 20. You can actually lose up to even pounds of lean muscle each decade. This decrease in muscle will not only lead to strength loss but it can also lead to weight gain. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat so the less muscle you have, the slower your metabolism. To avoid weight gain and ensure that you are strong into your senior years, it’s important to strength train.

You also slowly lose bone mass beginning at the age of 30. This can put you at risk of osteoporosis, bone fractures and other injuries. Strength training has been proven to increase bone density, regardless of your age.

If you’re looking to lose weight, it is even more important that you introduce weight training to your regimen. Studies show that when women diet, up to 30 percent of their weight loss comes from water, muscle and bone. The only way to counter this muscle and bone loss is through strength training.

Contrary to popular beliefs, women will not look like Arnold Schwarzenegger if they lift weights. Unless they are doing super heavy weights and supplementing with anabolic steroids, they’ll rarely gain more than two pounds of muscle a month, and that usually slows down as you continue to lift weights.

The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that adults perform strength training activities for all major muscle groups at least two times per week. If you can stick to these guidelines, you’ll reduce bone and muscle loss, increase your strength and help ensure that you can live an independent life well into your retirement years.

Slow and Steady Does Not Always Win the Race

May 6, 2013 in Blog, Blog Slideshow

By Kevin Charles

Look up weight loss articles and you’ll undoubtedly read warnings that you should drop the pounds slowly if you want to maintain your weight loss. It turns out this warning is unfounded and that the opposite may actually be the better way.

The Mayo Clinic is only one of many esteemed institutions cautioning that you should only lose between one to two pounds per week. Researchers at the University of Florida, however, disagree. They were the first to cast doubt on the superiority of slow weight loss. In a 2010 study published in the ‘International Journal of Behavioral Medicine’ the researchers noted that women who lost weight at a faster rate, greater than 1.5 pounds per week, in the long run lost more and maintained a greater weight loss than those who lost weight at a slower rate.

A more recent study published in the February 2013 issue of the ‘New England Journal of Medicine’ reviewed numerous randomized clinical trials and found that people who have rapid weight loss ended up losing more weight than those who had slow weight loss. The study also found that people who had a large amount of weight loss in the first four weeks ended up having the most weight loss over the next two years. So the moral of that is to start as you mean to go on.

Losing more than 1.5 pounds per week can seem daunting. It amounts to a deficit of 5250 calories per week. While that number may seem unattainable, it’s actually only 750 calories per day and more doable than you think. You just need to have a clear plan that you can stick too.

To reach your goal, you’ll need to include both diet and exercise. You should aim to burn at least 300 calories per day through exercise. This can be achieved through a combination of cardio and strength training. Whenever possible, you should also try to include some high intensity cardio intervals. These have been proven to burn more calories in a shorter amount of time than longer bouts of slow and steady cardio.

The remaining calorie deficit should come from your diet. Reducing your calories by 450 calories per day is not as difficult as you may think. Get rid of soda pop, juice, sweets and junk food and focus on eating lean protein and lots of green vegetables which are low in calories and will keep you feeling fuller throughout the day.

A tip to keep your eating habits in check is to use a food journal. In the 2010 University of Florida study, the women who lost the most weight kept better food records. Keep a food journal to record what and when you eat. It will help you know whether you are eating the right amount of calories and give you clues about what foods keep you full longer.

 

Can Exercise Make You Fat?

April 29, 2013 in Blog, Blog Slideshow

By Kevin Charles

Whether you’re looking to burn 50 pounds of fat or five, you’re probably considering exercise as a way to reach your goal. But what if you knew that some types of exercise can actually increase your fat? Several studies have concluded that cardiovascular exercise, particularly long bouts of steady-state cardio, can actually cause you to gain weight. These findings may make you re-think your workout regime.

Some people believe that the main reason exercise can be detrimental is because it can increase your appetite. In actuality, a study published in the 1997 issue of the journal ‘Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise’ found that there is no link between exercise and appetite control. But it is true that increased eating post-exercise does cause weight gain.

So if you’re not eating after your workout because you’re hungry, what’s the cause? In many cases, it’s a case of compensation. A study published in the February 2009 issue of the scientific journal ‘PLOS ONE’ found that women who exercise often lose the same amount of weight as women who do no exercise at all. How can that be? Well, the study’s authors noted that often people who exercise feel they deserve some compensation for the exercise they do. In other words, if they exercise for an hour they can reward themselves with a donut or two. Sometimes it’s not a donut. Sometimes it’s a seamlessly healthy smoothie that they buy right in their gym. The problem with this is that these post-workout treats often result in a bigger calorie intake than the calories these women have burned during their exercise. A Tim Hortons chocolate glazed donut is 260 calories while a Jamba Juice fruit smoothie is anywhere from 210 to 240 calories. You’ll have had to exercise vigorously for about 30 minutes to make up for either those treats.

Another reason exercise may be slowing down your weight loss is that it can increase your cortisol levels. Long and intensive exercise actually stresses your body. This in turn increases your cortisol levels which causes your body to hold on to fat. So the more you exercise, the more your body feels stressed and slows down your weight loss.

So what’s the answer you ask? Well, don’t give up your workout if that’s what you’re thinking. The answer is actually to exercise more efficiently for a less amount of time. A study published in the September 2012 issue of the ‘American Journal of Physiology,’ concluded that those who exercise 30 minutes a day lose the same amount of weight as those who exercise 60 minutes a day. Those 30 extra minutes of exercise led to higher cortisol levels and more feelings of “compensation.”

To make the most of your short daily workouts, try interval training. This includes short bursts of intense exercise such as sprinting, followed by longer periods of active recovery such as walking. Note, however, that these are very intensive so only perform them every other day to keep your cortisol in check and your fat loss on track.

My Favourite Trainer Interval Sprint Workout

0:00 – 5:00 – warm up: walk / jog
5:00 – 5:30 – sprint
5:30 – 7:00 – walk / slow jog
7:00 – 7:30 – sprint
7:30 – 9:00 – walk / slow jog
9:00 – 9:30 – sprint
9:30 – 11:00 – walk / slow jog
11:00 – 11:30 – sprint
11:30 – 13:00 – walk / slow jog
13:00 – 13:30 – sprint
13:30 – 15:00 – walk / slow jog
15:00 – 15:30 – sprint
15:30 – 17:00 – walk / slow jog
17:00 – 20:00 – cool down: walk

Protein is the Holy Grail

April 22, 2013 in Blog, Blog Slideshow

By Kevin Charles

High-protein diets are nothing new, in fact the infamous ‘Atkins Diet’ was introduced in 1972, and yet over 30 years later eating more protein continues to be an effective approach to weight loss. That’s not to say that you need to subscribe to the Atkins method of eliminating all carbohydrates from your diet, but upping your protein and reducing your simple carbs can help you reach your weight loss goals.

Numerous studies have proven that high-protein diets are superior to high-carb or low-fat diets. A 2012 study in the ‘American Journal of Clinical Nutrition’ found that high protein diets offer better overall weight loss and fat loss than calorie-reduced diets with normal protein intake. A 2009 study in the ‘Journal of Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases’ found similar results as did several other research studies published in the last 10 years.

So how do you make a high-protein diet work for you? The first thing to remember is that even though you’ll be eating more protein, you still need to reduce your overall calories to bring on weight loss. The best way to do this is to cut your carbohydrate intake, especially when it comes to simple carbs. These are less nutritional carbohydrates such as sugar, white rice, white bread and potatoes (often called “white” foods). Replace these with whole wheat bread, brown rice and yams but make sure you reduce your portions of these replacement foods as well. Ideally, you’ll want to eat more green vegetables that are lower in calories and high in fiber. You’ll cut your calorie intake and feel full throughout the day.

You should also increase your protein intake. The best way to do this is to include protein in your breakfast. A 2005 study published in the ‘Journal of the American College of Nutrition’ concluded that eating eggs for breakfast actually helps keep you feeling full for up to 36 hours. Replace your morning bagel with a couple of eggs and you’ll increase your protein intake, reduce your daily calories and do away with hunger-pangs all in one.

Also include protein in the rest of your daily meals and snacks, paying close attention to lean proteins such as chicken and fish. And while more protein is good, there is such a thing as “too much of a good thing.” A study published in the 2009 issue of the ‘Journal of the American Dietetic Association’ concluded that your body can only really process 30 grams of dietary protein per meal. Any extra protein that you eat during that meal will turn to fat.

Rev Up Your Metabolism

April 15, 2013 in Blog, Blog Slideshow

By Kevin Charles

A sluggish metabolism just might be what’s keeping you from reaching your weight loss goals. Even if you’ve never been diagnosed with a thyroid issues, your metabolism may not be working at its optimum level and that can hinder your weight loss goal.

What is Metabolism
Metabolism is really just a fancy word to explain the process by which your boy converts food or calories into energy. It’s involved in everything your body does, from breathing to thinking to any movement you do. Many factors affect your metabolism, including your body fat percentage, your muscle mass and even your stress levels. So if you think your metabolism isn’t working as effectively as it should be, there are simple things you can do to boost its efficiency and drop those stubborn pounds.

Build Muscle
Increasing your muscle mass is the most effective way to boost your metabolism. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat which means that the more muscle you have on your body, the more your metabolism has to work. And what does it use as fuel? Good old stored fat, that’s what. Don’t think you have to become a bodybuilder to increase your metabolism either. Regular strength training that produces even a few extra pounds of muscle is enough to produce significant differences.

Eat Throughout The Day

It turns out that digesting food is a big task for your metabolism too. Every time you eat, your metabolism has to burn fat to turn on your digestive system. When you eat three meals a day, your metabolism revs up three times a day, but when you eat small meals throughout the day, your metabolism has to stay activated to continue digesting your meals. Split your total daily calories between five or six small meals and snacks and not the traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner and you’ll keep hunger at bay and keep burning calories all day long.

Don’t Starve
While we’re talking about eating, we should also note that starvation is a sure-fire way to shut down your metabolism and stop burning calories. When you eat fewer calories than you need, your body goes into survival mode. It actually believes you are starving yourself to death, and to avoid your peril, it starts to conserve as much energy as possible. That means your metabolism slows down and starts hoarding the fat you have so that it can make it last longer. Bear that in mind the next time you’re on a diet. While it’s okay to reduce your calories, don’t go lower than 500 calories below your daily requirements per day or your diet will end up backfiring.

Go to Sleep
This has to be everyone’s favorite metabolism-boosting tip. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body stress levels rise and this in turn slows down your metabolism. Getting six to eight hours of sleep per night will keep your stress levels down and your metabolism operating efficiently.