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Should you track your nutritional intake?

Firstly, I would like to say if you’re serious about driving fat loss or muscle hypertrophy then absolutely yes you will have more chance of success in the initial phases at least if you are tracking your consumption. If you have long term success tracking calories and macronutrients, then you will know how effective it is in dialling in on your goals. However, from personal experience of managing my own and clients, nutrition, tracking calories and micronutrients day by day there can be some flaws to this method to help one stay on track with your nutrition.

 

The first, and main, reason I am not a supporter of tracking in the long term is that it requires a lot of time which many people often cannot fit into a busy schedule. For example, many people at work 9-5, have children to look after around that, as well as trying to make time for exercise and a healthy social life. If you are already stuck for time, the last thing you need is to be compelled to open up an app and make a diary entry every single time you eat.

 

Secondly, along with time, there are certain times where it’s simply inconvenient. If you are enjoying a few drinks at the weekend with your friends, not many people want to open MyFitnessPal every time someone gets another round in. Not only that, you’re probably going to forget to do so after the 6th!

 

Thirdly, it’s unnecessarily complex. Many apps will have you tracking calories, carbohydrates, protein and fats and lead you to believe that you need to hit each to the exact figure recommended. In reality, for anyone with body composition goals (building muscle and/or lose fat), carbohydrates and fats consumed do not significantly influence one’s results. As long as you hit your daily calorie target within 100kcal and have at least 2.2g protein per kg of bodyweight, then grams of carbohydrates and fats consumed simply does not matter (for body composition, for overall health it can but that’s a topic for a different blog).

 

These reasons are often the cause of many people giving up on tracking their nutrition. This in turn gives them a sense of failure and exhaustion towards making healthy nutritional choices, sending many back to previous bad habits

 

 

 

Aside from the impractical element of tracking, there’s the inaccuracy that often comes with it. Unless you are weighing every single food and drink that enters your body to the gram then you are not going to be 100% accurate. This is a big issue with more calorie dense foods. For instance, ‘A splash of olive oil’ is a subjective term. To some, this could mean 15ml and for some it could be 50ml. The difference in calories for this 123kcal vs 410kcal. This difference of almost 300kcal is enough to tip someone from a small calorie deficit back to their maintenance, without realising. Learning the skills of how to track and be accurate with is something that requires an element of coaching in itself and we have recently begun to provide out clients with guides on how to track using my fitness pal which is probably the most user-friendly app.

 

Lastly, another reason I do not like the tracking method is that it does not take into account micronutrients. These essential vitamins and minerals make a huge difference to overall health, helping you stay clear of chronic diseases. However, on tracking apps, 500kcal from a small pizza is the same as 500kcal from a chicken breast and vegetables.

 

So how do you ensure you’re making the correct nutritional choices for your goals?

 

Personally, I find that the most effective method for this is to plan ahead. Organising your nutrition on a Sunday for example, or whenever you get time, formulate yourself a meal plan for the week ahead. Plan out what you are going to eat and when, use tracking devices and labels to help you calculate protein and calories, forget about carbohydrates and fats if a change in body composition is your goal as a beginner if you are new to tracking keep it as simple as you can. Also, plan each day to have at least 5 different portions of fruit and vegetables to ensure you are consuming all the micronutrients you need.

 

If you keep note of how many calories and protein meals you often consume contains, then a few weeks in, you will have a menu of all of your meals with the portion sizes for each meal and you can continue adding meals to your plan for the week, as protein and calories will already by noted, saving you a lot of time in the long run. If you want to smash your goals this method of creating your menu based on your protein and calorie requirements will in the initial phases be a little bit of work and planning however after a good 4 weeks of doing so you will have all the tools required for you to keep your nutrition consistent which in the world of weight loss or building a physique is the most important driver in which will determine lasting success.

 

As for going out socialising, 100% accuracy cannot be achieved. However, knowing how many calories are in 1 glass of your chosen drink, and knowing roughly how much you drink will be much better than failing to track at all. If you know that you will be going out over the weekend you can then reduce calories in the week to make up for it. (Check out our blog on calorie banking for more on this).

 

Similar to training, planning ahead often yields much more effective results than being reactive day to day.

Understanding Fat

Why we need Fat in our diet:

Fuel Source

Protection of Vital Organs

Cell membrane constituents

Precursors of bile, hormones and steroids

Fat soluble vitamin intake

 

Types of Fat:

Monounsaturated fats: Sources include avocado’s, olive oil, and almonds.

Polyunsaturated fat: Sources include flaxseed oil, walnuts and salmon.

Saturated Fats: Sources include animal fats, butter, coconut oil

Trans fats: Sources include bakery goods, fried foods, dough of frozen pizzas and most processed foods. These are fats we should try and limit in our dietary intake.

 

How much we need:

Upwards of 20% of our daily intake of calories from fats is considered healthy, just as long as it’s not so much to the point where we do not consume enough protein.

 

Also, it’s important to consider that Fat is very calorie dense (9kcal per gram of fat compared to 4kcal per gram of carbohydrate and protein). Therefore, when amount taken in isn’t monitored then it is easier to end up in a calorie surplus and put on weight.

Importance of Resistance Training for Elderly Populations

 

What is Resistance Training?

Resistance Training can be defined as a form of exercise, whereby external weights provide progressive overload to skeletal muscles in order to make them stronger and often result in hypertrophy (growth in overall size of muscle cells) (Alix-Fages et. al, 2022; Phillips and Winett, 2010), which can lead to several benefits.

 

Benefits:

Less chance of falls and subsequent physical inactivity:

Araujo et. al (2022) found that middle aged or older people who could not stand on one leg for more than 10 seconds were more likely to die in the next seven years, compared to people who could. Why could this be the case?

 

People with less balance can be more prone falls. When in older age, this is more likely to lead to serious injury to lower bone density. If this results in a hip fracture, then there is no guarantee they will reach pre-injury level of recovery, leaving a lack of mobility and pain. With many people, this can result in them stopping activities which they used to enjoy, such as regular walks, and meeting up with friends to do things. This decrease in physical activity and increase in isolation can further accelerate the negative effects of the fall such as increased risk of depression and heart disease from being physically inactive

 

Reduce risk of chronic diseases and keeping one’s independence:

Furthermore, regular resistance training (2-3 sessions per week) has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as osteoporosis, heart disease, arthritis and type 2 diabetes. (Fragala et. al, 2019),  as well as being important in managing sarcopenia (the gradual loss in muscle mass due to age). Avoiding these chronic diseases can help people keep their independence in their old age, thus increasing their quality of life. For example, if someone can avoid osteoporosis and arthritis, then they can move with much more ease. This allows them the ability to complete activities such as playing with grandchildren and climbing stairs.

 

The snowball effect of being able to do these things can also have a positive effect on one’s mental health as they will be able to live with more confidence, less anxiety and more social interactions instead of potential isolation due to lack of mobility.

 

Seeing these benefits first hand:

As a personal trainer, one of the main protocols I take when working with older clients is to incorporate exercises which improve their balance and stability into their training programme, at a level suited to them. This can start off as simple as dowel assisted front foot elevated split squat, progressing all the way to unassisted single leg Romanian deadlifts. When performed consistently and accompanied by adequate nutrition, results are seen quickly so never think that it’s too late to start resistance training.

 

Reference List:

  • Alix-Fages, C., Del Vecchio, A., Baz-Valle, E., Santos-Concejero, J., & Balsalobre-Fernández, C. (2022). The role of the neural stimulus in regulating skeletal muscle hypertrophy. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 1-18.
  • AraujoCG, de Souza e Silva CG, Laukkanen JA, et al, Successful 10-second one-legged stance performance predicts survival in middle-aged and older individuals British Journal of Sports Medicine Published Online First: 21 June 2022. doi:1136/bjsports-2021-105360
  • Fragala, Maren S.1; Cadore, Eduardo L.2; Dorgo, Sandor3; Izquierdo, Mikel4; Kraemer, William J.5; Peterson, Mark D.6; Ryan, Eric D.7Resistance Training for Older Adults: Position Statement From the National Strength and Conditioning Association, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: August 2019 – Volume 33 – Issue 8 – p 2019-2052 doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003230
  • Phillips, S. M., & Winett, R. A. (2010). Uncomplicated resistance training and health-related outcomes: evidence for a public health mandate. Current sports medicine reports9(4), 208.
  • Zhang, J., Ang, M. L., & Kwek, E. B. (2015). Who Will Walk Again? Effects of Rehabilitation on the Ambulatory Status in Elderly Patients Undergoing Hemiarthroplasty for Femoral Neck Fracture. Geriatric orthopaedic surgery & rehabilitation6(3), 168–172. https://doi.org/10.1177/2151458515583111

 

Calorie Banking

Definition:

Saving a larger portion of your calories for one particular meal of the day or day of the week

 

Why/When?

This can be a useful tool to help stay on track with your total calories whilst minimising the sacrifice you have to make to your social life.

 

Example:

  • You want to consume 1800kcal per day in order to be in a calorie deficit.
  • Monday-Thursday you do this ‘normally’ by having around 500kcal per meal and a 300kcal snack.
  • However, on Friday you’re meeting friends at a restaurant.
  • Therefore, you don’t snack in the day and have 300kcal for breakfast and the same for lunch.
  • This leaves 1200kcal for dinner and any alcoholic drinks you may have. Allowing you to have a more caloric meal such as a big pasta dish, with a couple of pints of alcohol too, without exceeding your calorie limit.

 

Important to note:

This tool will help ensure you lose the same amount of weight compared to spreading your calories out normally but it is may affect how much fat is lost. This is because if you’re using this tool to consume alcohol every night, then more weight will be lost from muscle tissue as oppose to fat tissue. However, using calorie banking one day per week to consume alcohol in moderation will not have significant effects on your body composition. In short, calorie bank in moderation and it can be a very useful tool for helping you stay on track with your nutritional intake.

Setting Yourself Up for Success

Nowadays, many people have heard about SMART goals. An acronym telling us that our goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Bound. Although I completely agree with this, there is more that needs to be considered when setting a goal.  This is not only to increase the likelihood of achieving it, but also to increase the enjoyment during the process of doing so.

 

Categorising Goals:

Goals can be split into 2 categories: process goals and outcome goals. To define each in my own words, an outcome goal is the desired end result and process goals are targets you will need to meet during the process of achieving the outcome goal. In my opinion, both are critical for success.

 

When someone embarks on a journey to achieve better health and fitness, they will often set themselves an outcome goal. For example, ‘I want to lose 10lbs in 3 months’ or ‘I want to run 5k in under 25 minutes in 6 months’. However, they rarely set processes for their goals along the way which will help them get there.

 

Which is better?

I believe neither outcome or process goals are better than the other. Setting process goals is expected to increase one’s motivation for a task. (Zimmerman and Kitsantas, 1997).  On the other hand, setting process goals, such as ‘set time aside for 3 runs per week’ without an overall outcome goal which you really want to achieve, may also leave you unmotivated. Therefore, setting both, effectively, is crucial.

 

Setting goals effectively:

Knowing how to do this, effectively, however, can be easier said than done. Referring back to the first paragraph, this is where SMART becomes very effective. This should be applied to all of your goals, both outcome and process, to increase the chance of success.

 

The issue with this for many people though is that they may not have the required amount of knowledge on a topic to fulfil the ‘realistic’ part of SMART. For instance, I know nothing about cars. Therefore, if someone approached me and said set a realistic goal for yourself for how long it would take for you to fix this cars engine, I wouldn’t know where to start. Therefore, I would have two options, either devote a lot of time to learning about car engines, or hire a professional to do this for me. I believe this is the same approach people should take to their own bodies. Don’t second guess when it comes to your training and nutrition, either devote the time to learn how to eat and train effectively or hire a professional to guide you the right way.

 

Reference List:

  • Zimmerman, B. J., & Kitsantas, A. (1997). Developmental phases in self-regulation: Shifting from process goals to outcome goals. Journal of educational psychology89(1), 29.

Are Low Carb Diets better for losing body fat?

A common belief is that a reduction in the consumption of carbohydrates will directly result in a reduction in body fat. Generally, the rationale behind this, is that less carbohydrates in their diet will result in less insulin, the ‘fat storing hormone’, being released and thereby storing less body fat.

 

In the context of fat loss/gain, caloric intake is important and carbohydrate intake is not.

Although studies have shown that those who consume more sugar gain more weight (Ruanpeng et. al. 2017), these studies do not compare groups consuming high carbohydrate diets and low-moderate carbohydrate diets with equal caloric intakes.

 

When calorie intake is controlled, i.e. both groups consume the same number of calories, differences in weight loss are not significant. (Te Morenga, 2013)

 

Understanding Energy Balance:

This is because weight loss is determined by energy balance. When we consume more calories than we expend then this puts us in a calorie surplus, meaning there is an excess of calories i.e. energy. When this occurs, this surplus of energy is stored as increased weight. Other factors determine how this weight is added. For example, if protein intake is high and someone is regularly resistance training, then more of the added weight is likely to be gained as an increase in muscle tissue. However, if someone is not resistance training, protein intake is low and sleep duration and quality is poor, then the vast majority of this added weight will be an increase in fat mass.

 

Satiety Matters:

People often over consume on calories due to their diet involving many foods that are not satiating. This can be why people have successful results when reducing carbohydrates out of their diet, because their over consumption of calories may be due to their previous diet having many low nutrient, low satiating sources of carbohydrates, such as sweets. Where some people then go wrong, is blaming all carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes and fruit, which have been shown to be much more satiating.

 

Overall, selecting meals to consume on your diet when fat loss is your goal, the only significant factors should be calories, protein (amount needed will be determined by your age), satiety (how full it leaves you feeling), nutrient density (the amount of beneficial nutrients in a food) and most importantly, how much you enjoy the meal. This is because adherence to a plan is going to be crucial. If you don’t believe you can eat like this for the rest of your life then it’s simply too strict.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

 

  • Ruanpeng, D., Thongprayoon, C., Cheungpasitporn, W., & Harindhanavudhi, T. (2017). Sugar and artificially sweetened beverages linked to obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. QJM: An International Journal of Medicine110(8), 513-520.
  • Te Morenga, L., Mallard, S., & Mann, J. (2013). Dietary sugars and body weight: systematic review and meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials and cohort studies. Bmj346.

Resistance Training Benefits for Females

What is Resistance Training?

Resistance Training can be defined as a form of exercise, whereby external weights provide progressive overload to skeletal muscles in order to make them stronger and often result in hypertrophy (growth in overall size of muscle cells) (Alix-Fages et. al, 2022; Phillips and Winett, 2010), which can lead to several benefits.

Mental Health:

Firstly, Ramirez and Kravitz (2012) looked into the benefits of regular resistance training and found that it has been shown to improve numerous aspects of mental health including: lessened anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, self-esteem, memory and cognition. The way in which resistance training helps achieve this is not yet clear, but the benefits to mental health could well be consequences of the physical benefits that resistance training provides. For example, when we start training regularly, our sleep may improve. In turn, we see a reduction in stress hormones (Maggio et. al, 2013), which then can have a positive effect on our level of anxiety.

Fat Loss:

When wanting to lose weight, we need to be in a calorie deficit. When in this calorie deficit, weight can be lost via losing body fat, water, and muscle tissue. Regular resistance training helps preserve muscle mass when in a calorie deficit (Miller et. al, 2018). This, in turn, results in more of the weight lost being from body fat tissue, as opposed to muscle tissue. It is important to note that protein intake and sleep must also be sufficient to maximise muscle preservation, and therefore fat loss, in a calorie deficit. (Nedeltcheva et. al, 2010; Stokes et. al, 2018)

Frailty and Functionality:

As we age past the age of 35, we experience a gradual loss of muscle mass of around 1-2% per year, this is known as sarcopenia (Cruz-Jentoft and Sayer, 2019). Once we reach our 60’s and older, sarcopenia may contribute to a loss of functionality in daily tasks such as climbing stairs with ease, or playing with grandchildren.

Resistance training in elderly populations has been shown to increase their ability to go from sitting to standing with less postural sway and more proprioception, which is linked to more functional ability and lower risk of falls. (Faigenbaum and Myer, 2010)

‘I Don’t Want to Look Bulky’:

This is a common worry with female clients. Fortunately, there is about as much chance as accidentally adding significant amounts of muscle mass accidentally as there is as taking driving lessons and accidentally ending up in the Monaco Grand Prix.

Putting on significant amounts of muscle mass requires consistent training on a hypertrophy focussed plan, being in a calorie surplus, and consumption of adequate protein for a number of months before noticeable increases are seen. Overall, resistance training can be used as an excellent tool to improve one’s quality of life, regardless of age or goals.

Reference List:

  • Alix-Fages, C., Del Vecchio, A., Baz-Valle, E., Santos-Concejero, J., & Balsalobre-Fernández, C. (2022). The role of the neural stimulus in regulating skeletal muscle hypertrophy. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 1-18.
  • Cruz-Jentoft, A. J., & Sayer, A. A. (2019). Sarcopenia. The Lancet393(10191), 2636-2646.
  • Faigenbaum, A. D., & Myer, G. D. (2010). Pediatric resistance training: benefits, concerns, and program design considerations. Current sports medicine reports9(3), 161-168.
  • Maggio, M., Colizzi, E., Fisichella, A., Valenti, G., Ceresini, G., Dall’Aglio, E., … & Ceda, G. P. (2013). Stress hormones, sleep deprivation and cognition in older adults. Maturitas76(1), 22-44.
  • Miller, T., Mull, S., Aragon, A. A., Krieger, J., & Schoenfeld, B. J. (2018). Resistance training combined with diet decreases body fat while preserving lean mass independent of resting metabolic rate: a randomized trial. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism28(1), 46-54.
  • Nedeltcheva, A. V., Kilkus, J. M., Imperial, J., Schoeller, D. A., & Penev, P. D. (2010). Insufficient sleep undermines dietary efforts to reduce adiposity. Annals of internal medicine153(7), 435–441. https://doi.org/10.7326/0003-4819-153-7-201010050-00006
  • Phillips, S. M., & Winett, R. A. (2010). Uncomplicated resistance training and health-related outcomes: evidence for a public health mandate. Current sports medicine reports9(4), 208.
  • Ramirez, A., & Kravitz, L. (2012). Resistance training improves mental health. IDEA Fitness Journal9(1), 20-22.
  • Stokes, T., Hector, A. J., Morton, R. W., McGlory, C., & Phillips, S. M. (2018). Recent perspectives regarding the role of dietary protein for the promotion of muscle hypertrophy with resistance exercise training. Nutrients10(2), 180.

 

 

CLIENT SUCCESS STORY – RYAN COOPER

Ryan spent years feeling intimidated to join a gym believing that people would place judgement on him.

He reached out to us at Soma for our personal training services to help him with his body composition goals and with the focus on building some lean muscle mass and improving his posture.

To his own disbelief he never thought that he would actually enjoy his training sessions, due to our coaches professional approach to programming to all of our clients requirements to succeed.

Upper Body Workout

Our personal trainers present your free upper body workout, please try it out. If you have any questions fire away!!!

LINK TO VIDEO:

https://youtube.com/shorts/Byg0w2gWT3s?feature=share

A1) Cable External Roatations @ 90 degrees

10 reps x 3 sets

B1) Half Kneeling Ipsilateral Pull Downs

8 reps x 3 sets

C1) Cable Chest Press

8-10 reps x 3 sets

D1) Single Arm Dumbell Row

6-8 reps x 3 sets

E1)Pronated Grip Upper Back Row

10 reps x 3 sets

F1) Lengthened Position Bicep Curl mechanical drop set into Mid Range Bicep Curl

8-12 reps x 8-12 reps x 3 sets

G1) Shortened Position Tricep Extension mechanical drop set into Mid Range Tricep Extension

8-12 reps x 8-12 reps x 3 sets

Client Success Story – The Process

Matt came into Soma with the goal of putting on some muscle purely for aesthetic purposes. He began his personal training program for just twice per week along with following his nutritional protocol in which was tailored bespoke to him and his social life on the weekends with focus on making the correct nutritional choices when eating out on the weekend.

 

As you can see he has developed a good amount of muscle mass in the 8 week period however this is just the beginning of his journey. We have now increased training frequency to 3 times per week and made adjustments to his nutritional protocol to help drive further adaptations towards his hypertrophy goals.

From a functional perspective following his functional assessment we found limitations in his movement and function of his shoulder and hips which have also improved over the 8 weeks (shoulder external rotation, getting in the overhead position and hip internal rotation). Thank you Matt for trusting our coaches in the process and for your consistent work ethic.

Stay tuned to see Matt further progress his physique with the coaching and guidance of his personal trainer.