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The Power of Saying ‘No’: Unlocking Your Fitness Potential

As a personal trainer, I’ve observed that many clients struggle to achieve their fitness goals because they find it challenging to say ‘no’ to various situations that hinder their progress. Whether it’s attending mid-week social events, sacrificing sleep, or succumbing to high-stress situations, saying ‘yes’ all the time can have detrimental effects on your weight loss, hunger levels, muscle building, and overall recovery. We will explore the science behind saying yes to these situations that will cause late nights, sleep deprivation, stress, and how they impact your fitness journey. By learning to say ‘no,’ you can prioritise your health and supercharge your progress.

 

Late Nights and Sleep Deprivation:

 

Late nights disrupt your body’s natural circadian rhythm, leading to sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep affects various hormonal and physiological processes, significantly impacting your weight loss and hunger levels.

 

a. Hormonal Imbalance: Sleep deprivation alters hormone production, primarily affecting two key hormones involved in appetite regulation—ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin, the hunger hormone, increases, making you feel hungrier and increasing the likelihood of overeating. At the same time, leptin, the satiety hormone, decreases, leading to reduced feelings of fullness.

b. Cravings and Food Choices: Sleep deprivation triggers cravings for high-calorie, high-sugar foods, leading to poor food choices. These cravings, combined with increased hunger, can derail your weight loss efforts and hinder your ability to build muscle.

c. Metabolism and Fat Storage: Insufficient sleep disrupts your metabolism, affecting how your body processes and stores fat. Studies have shown that sleep-deprived individuals tend to have slower metabolisms and an increased tendency to store fat, particularly in the abdominal region.

 

Stress and its Impact on Fitness:

 

Saying ‘yes’ to stressful situations can significantly hinder your progress, making it essential to prioritise stress management and learn to say ‘no’ when needed.

a. Cortisol and Fat Storage: Stress triggers the release of cortisol, a hormone associated with fat storage, particularly around the midsection. Elevated cortisol levels can make it harder to lose weight and build muscle, as excess cortisol promotes muscle breakdown.

b. Impaired Recovery: High-stress levels inhibit recovery by interfering with muscle repair and growth. When you consistently say ‘yes’ to stressful situations, your body may struggle to adapt and rebuild, leading to compromised progress and increased risk of injury.

c. Lack of Focus and Motivation: Stress and overwhelm can sap your mental energy, leaving you less focused and motivated for your workouts. This can lead to suboptimal training sessions and hinder your ability to achieve your fitness goals.

Prioritising Rest and Recovery:

 

Apart from sleep and stress management, there are other areas where saying ‘no’ can be highly beneficial to your progress.

a. Overtraining and Injury Risk: Overcommitting to a high frequency of intense workouts without adequate rest can lead to overtraining, which manifests as fatigue, decreased performance, and increased risk of injury. By learning to say ‘no’ to and extra training sessions or classes where the intensity cannot be controlled or regulated or incorporating rest days, you give your body the chance to recover and grow stronger. This is commonly seen in athletes and individuals who enjoy sport, remember more is not always better, quality and consistency is always better.

b. Nutritional Choices: Saying ‘no’ to unhealthy food options and temptations can support your weight loss goals. By making mindful choices, you nourish your body with nutrient-dense foods that enhance recovery and provide the necessary fuel for optimal performance. Individuals might say, but my friend came round with cake and I couldn’t say no. Yes you can say no!

c. Time Management: Saying ‘no’ to non-essential commitments or distractions allows you to prioritise your training and self-care routines. By creating boundaries and carving out dedicated time for exercise and recovery, you improve consistency and create an environment conducive to progress.

 

Learning to say ‘no’ is an essential skill on your fitness journey and progress.

Mastering Discipline: Unlocking Your Weight Loss Potential

Weight loss is a common challenge faced by many individuals. While there can be several underlying factors contributing to weight gain, one of the biggest culprits we see with the majority of our personal training clients is most often a lack of discipline. Discipline plays a crucial role in making healthy choices and maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Unfortunately for most individuals elevating themselves beyond their comfort zone becomes a psychological battle and they often give up due to lack a of discipline. In this article, we will explore how discipline affects weight management, identify common scenarios where discipline falters, and provide strategies to train and strengthen your discipline muscle. Additionally, we will recommend three books that can guide you on your journey toward overcoming bad habits and improving discipline.

 

The Role of Discipline in Weight Management:

 

Discipline is the ability to resist short-term temptations in favour of long-term goals. When it comes to weight management, discipline is vital because it helps you make consistent choices aligned with your health objectives. It empowers you to resist the allure of high-calorie desserts, mindless snacking, excessive alcohol consumption, and other dietary pitfalls. By practicing discipline, you can make conscious decisions that support your weight loss journey.

 

Identifying Common Scenarios of Discipline Failure:

 

Discipline can falter in various situations, making it challenging to stick to your weight management plan. Here are some examples:

  1. Dessert Temptations: You may find it difficult to resist indulging in desserts, especially when faced with tempting options like creamy cakes or gooey pastries. If you have created the habit of always ordering a dessert when you dine out, it’s going to take a conscious effort to decline dessert with the waiter/waitress brings along the dessert menu. Ordering a peppermint tea or straight up asking for the bill will take effort and putting yourself out of your comfort zone to achieve it. However once you practice this habit on numerous occasions your discipline will grow and your comfort zone will be enhanced. Remember everything is hard been overweight is hard and been in shape and healthy is hard and takes conscious effort.
  2. Social Settings: When attending social gatherings, it’s easy to cave in to peer pressure or the desire to fit in, resulting in overconsumption of unhealthy food and beverages.
  3. Office Snacking: Workplace environments often offer opportunities for indulgence, such as when colleagues bring in delicious treats or when stress triggers the need for comfort food.

 

Training Your Discipline Muscle:

Discipline is not an innate quality but rather a skill that can be developed and strengthened over time. Here are some strategies to train your discipline:

 

  1. Set Clear Goals: Define your weight management goals and establish a realistic plan to achieve them. Having a clear vision of what you want to accomplish will enhance your focus and motivation.
  2. Create a Routine: Establishing a consistent routine helps you develop healthy habits. Plan your meals, exercise sessions, and rest periods, and stick to them as closely as possible.
  3. Practice Mindfulness: Increase your awareness of your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours related to food. By practicing mindfulness, you can identify triggers that lead to overeating or unhealthy choices and learn to respond more intentionally.
  4. Build a Support Network: Surround yourself with individuals who support your goals. They can provide encouragement, accountability, and motivation when your discipline falters.

 

Recommended Books for Improving Discipline:

 

  1. “Atomic Habits” by James Clear: This book explores the power of small habits and offers practical strategies to build discipline and transform your life.
  2. “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle: By emphasizing the importance of living in the present moment, this book helps you cultivate self-awareness and make conscious choices aligned with your weight management goals.
  3. “The Willpower Instinct” by Kelly McGonigal: This book delves into the science of self-control and provides actionable techniques to strengthen your willpower and resist temptations.

 

Discipline is a key factor in successful weight management if you don’t take it seriously and consciously work on overcoming the habits that have caused you to gain weight then you chance of success are slim. By understanding the role of discipline, identifying scenarios where it tends to waver, and implementing strategies to train and strengthen your discipline muscle, you can overcome bad habits and make healthier choices. Remember, discipline is like a muscle: the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. So, start practicing discipline today and unlock your weight loss potential for a healthier, happier you. It’s not going to be easy but it sure will be worth it.

Gymnema sylvestre – the sugar destroyer

Gymnema sylvestre, also known as the sugar destroyer or miracle fruit, is a popular medicinal herb that has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine to treat various health conditions. The herb is native to India and is also found in other parts of Asia, Africa, and Australia. The leaves of Gymnema sylvestre contain active compounds such as gymnemic acids, which are responsible for the herb’s medicinal properties. Here are some of the health benefits of Gymnema sylvestre:

 

Blood sugar control: Gymnema sylvestre has been found to be effective in reducing blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. The active compounds in Gymnema sylvestre are known to block the absorption of glucose in the intestine and also increase insulin secretion, which helps to lower blood sugar levels.

 

Weight loss: Gymnema sylvestre can also aid in weight loss. It contains compounds that help to reduce sugar cravings and prevent overeating. By reducing sugar cravings, Gymnema sylvestre can also help to reduce calorie intake, which can lead to weight loss.

 

Lower cholesterol levels: Studies have shown that Gymnema sylvestre can help to lower cholesterol levels in the body. The herb works by reducing the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine, which helps to lower the overall cholesterol levels in the body.

 

Anti-inflammatory properties: Gymnema sylvestre has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation is linked to various health conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, and cancer.

 

Digestive health: Gymnema sylvestre has been used in traditional medicine to treat digestive problems such as constipation, indigestion, and flatulence. The herb has been found to have a laxative effect and can help to promote bowel movements.

 

Anti-cancer properties: Gymnema sylvestre contains compounds that have been found to have anti-cancer properties. The herb has been found to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and also induce apoptosis, which is the programmed cell death of cancer cells.

Gymnema sylvestre is a powerful herb that has many health benefits. Gymnema sylvestre is available in various forms such as capsules, teas, and extracts. For the most part we recommend the consumption of this herb for our personal training clients who struggle with sugar cravings and snacking as a strategy to help them create long lasting habits that will improve their overall health.  

Find Gymnema Drops Online:

Gymnema (Gymnema sylvestre or Marsdenia sylvestris) Leaves, Liquid Extract Drops 120 ml

Maintain your goals during Ramadan

Ramadan is approaching with fasting for our Muslim personal training clients. It is a time of reflection, prayer, and self-discipline however, for athletes and individuals who wish to maintain their fitness levels, muscle mass and strength, it can be challenging to maintain their training schedule and performance while fasting. It is important to have structure and plan and optimise your training during Ramadan to get the best results.

When is the best time to train during Ramadan?

The optimal time to train during Ramadan depends on the individual’s personal preference and schedule. However, we generally recommended to train after breaking the fast (Iftar) or before the pre-dawn meal (Suhoor). Training during these times we have found over the years with feedback from our personal training clients allows the individual to consume food and water to fuel their workouts and rehydrate after the workout.

Training after Iftar allows the athlete to replenish their glycogen stores, which can help increase energy levels during the workout. It also allows them to consume a proper post-workout meal, which is essential for recovery and muscle growth. A disadvantage of training after Iftar can be challenging due to the heaviness of the meal and the possibility of feeling sluggish during the workout.

Training before Suhoor, on the other hand, allows the athlete to consume a small meal and hydrate before the workout. It also allows them to take advantage of the increased energy levels that occur during the pre-dawn meal. A disadvantage of training before Suhoor can be challenging due to the early wake-up time and the possibility of feeling fatigued during the workout. 

What types of foods should you break your fast with?

Breaking the fast with nutrient dense  foods is essential for maintaining energy levels during the workout and promoting recovery afterward. You must certainly avoid processed and refined foods with little quality nutrition. We have found the best results for our personal training clients to break the fast with a combination of complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats.

Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, provide sustained energy during the workout. 

Protein, such as meats, fish, beans, and legumes, is essential for muscle repair and growth. Healthy fats, such as nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, seeds, and avocado, provide satiety and energy during the workout.

It is also important to hydrate properly during Iftar. Drinking water and electrolyte-rich beverages, such as coconut water or electrolyte drinks, can help rehydrate the body and replenish lost minerals. Adding BCAAs to your water during this time of the year can also help with ingesting enough amino acids to preserve and build your muscle mass. 

How to optimize hydration during Ramadan?

Hydration is crucial during Ramadan, especially for athletes who need to maintain their performance levels. It is recommended to drink at least 35 ml of water per kilo of body weight per day to ensure adequate hydration. This will be required to ingest between Iftar and Suhoor which may be challenging for some individuals who normally struggle to drink enough water throughout the day we would recommend that you take advantage of consuming some quality electrolytes. Our personal trainers also advise our to avoid caffeinated beverages, such as coffee and tea, as they can increase dehydration.

During the workout, it is recommended to drink small sips of water every 10-15 minutes to maintain hydration levels. It is also important to avoid drinking large amounts of water at once, as it can lead to stomach discomfort. 

How to maintain muscle mass during Ramadan?

Maintaining muscle mass during Ramadan can be challenging, especially if the athlete is in a calorie deficit due to the fasting period. It is essential to consume adequate protein and calories during Iftar and Suhoor to prevent muscle breakdown.

Consuming protein-rich foods, such as eggs, meats, fish, beans, and legumes, during Iftar and Suhoor can help maintain muscle mass. It is also important to consume complex carbohydrates to provide energy for the workout and healthy fats to provide satiety and energy during the workout.

In addition to sound nutrition, our personal trainers recommended to continue strength training during Ramadan to maintain muscle mass. However, it is important to adjust the training volume and intensity to accommodate the fasting period.

In conclusion, training during Ramadan can be challenging, don’t make excuses find solutions. With proper planning and nutrition, individuals can maintain their performance levels and even improve their fitness during the holy month. 

If you are looking to step up your fitness game this year contact us and find out how our personal trainers in Hale and Altrincham can help. 

The Goals of Post Workout Nutrition

After a strenuous workout, your body requires proper nutrition to recover and perform optimally. Post-workout nutrition is crucial to achieving your recovery goals, as it can help replenish energy stores, reduce muscle soreness, and promote muscle growth. In this article, we’ll explore the goals of post-workout nutrition and some examples of how to achieve them.

 

  1. Replenish Glycogen Stores: During exercise, your body uses glycogen, which is stored in your muscles and liver, for energy. To maintain high-quality exercise frequency, you need to replenish these glycogen stores after your workout. Consuming carbohydrates post-workout can help restore glycogen levels and provide fuel for future workouts.

Examples: A banana on a rice cake, or a sports drink containing carbohydrates can all help replenish glycogen stores.

 

  1. Promote Muscle Protein Synthesis: Resistance exercise creates tiny tears in your muscle fibers, and proper nutrition is required to repair and rebuild these fibers, to promote muscle growth. Consuming protein after a workout can help stimulate muscle protein synthesis and promote muscle growth.

Examples: A whey protein shake, grilled chicken breast, or Greek yogurt (you could ad a banana and honey to this for some carbs) are all excellent sources of protein to consume post-workout.

  1. Reduce Muscle Soreness and Inflammation: After a challenging workout, you may experience muscle soreness, stiffness, and inflammation. Consuming anti-inflammatory foods post-workout can help reduce inflammation and aid in recovery.

Examples: Berries, leafy greens, salmon, and nuts are all anti-inflammatory foods that can help reduce muscle soreness and inflammation.

  1. Restore Electrolyte Balance: Sweating during exercise can cause a loss of electrolytes, including sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Proper electrolyte balance is crucial for muscle function and hydration. Consuming electrolyte-rich foods and drinks can help restore these minerals and keep you hydrated.

Examples: Coconut water or an electrolyte drink are all good sources of electrolytes to consume post-workout.

  1. Activate Parasympathetic Nervous System: The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for rest and recovery. After a workout, it’s essential to activate this system to promote relaxation and repair. Consuming foods and drinks that contain magnesium can help activate the parasympathetic nervous system. Other relaxation techniques can also help induce the parasympathetic nervous system.

Examples: Dark chocolate, spinach, and almonds are all good sources of magnesium that can help activate the parasympathetic nervous system post-workout. Breath work, meditation or a light walk prior to exercise are great ways to also achieve this.

 

Post-workout nutrition is important for achieving your fitness goals. The conversation we have with our personal training clients once they are into a consistent frequency of exercise regarding post workout recovery is usually discussed as a strategy to keep exercise frequency consistent and to keep NEAT (Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) high in between workouts. If our clients are too sore they tend to move less in between sessions causing less total calories to be burnt during the week which may hinder our fat loss goals. Creating the correct strategy for our personal training clients to maximise their opportunities to achieve their goals in an efficient manner is something we take into account when our personal trainers are putting together their plans and strategies bespoke to each individual personal training client.

Contact us to find our more about are personal trainer in altrincham and personal trainers in Hale, we specialise in a bespoke service for our personal training clients and we take a huge attention to detail to give you the highest quality personal training service in the area.

Benefits of L-Glutamine

L-glutamine is a non-essential amino acid that is produced naturally in the body. It plays a vital role in a number of important bodily functions such as protein synthesis, cell growth, and energy production. Additionally, it offers a wide range of health benefits that we utilise for our personal training clients to assist them with the following:

Recovery:

One of the main benefits of L-glutamine is its ability to support recovery after intense exercise. It has been shown to help reduce muscle soreness, speed up muscle recovery, and improve overall athletic performance. Additionally, L-glutamine has been found to help with muscle repair and growth, which is essential for all individuals participating in resistance training along with athletes and bodybuilders.

Gut Health:

L-glutamine also offers several benefits for gut health. It has been shown to help heal and strengthen the intestinal lining, which can reduce the risk of leaky gut syndrome and other digestive disorders. Additionally, L-glutamine has been found to help reduce inflammation in the gut, which can alleviate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other digestive issues.

Cravings:

L-glutamine has also been found to help reduce cravings for sugar and other unhealthy foods. This is because L-glutamine can help regulate blood sugar levels, which can reduce the risk of sugar crashes and subsequent cravings. Additionally, L-glutamine has been found to increase feelings of fullness, which can help reduce overall calorie intake.

Dosage:

The recommended dosage of L-glutamine varies depending on the individual and their specific needs. However, most studies suggest that a daily dosage of 5-10 grams is generally safe and effective. It is important to note that L-glutamine should not be taken in excessive amounts, as this can cause adverse side effects such as gastrointestinal distress.

Other Benefits:

In addition to its benefits for recovery, gut health, and cravings, L-glutamine has also been found to offer a number of other health benefits. For example, it has been shown to help boost immune function, improve cognitive function, and reduce the risk of certain cancers. All these fantastic benefits for a relatively inexpensive supplement.

Overall, L-glutamine is an affordable and powerful supplement that offers a wide range of benefits. Whether you are an athlete looking to support muscle recovery, someone with digestive issues looking to improve gut health, or someone struggling with cravings and blood sugar issues, L-glutamine may be able to help. To purchase a good quality micronized L-Glutamine powder click the link below:

Beginning the fitness journey for elderly populations

During the later years of life, certain things can start to become harder, we gradually start to lose our strength, speed and co-ordination. For some people, this can unfortunately lead to a loss of independence. It is widely known that regular exercise can aid with vastly slowing down the ageing process, however, the proportion of people taking part in regular activity actually decreases with age. Therefore, it’s important to identify what barriers elderly people, exclusively, face when it comes to partaking in regular physical activity and try to combat them, as oppose to simply telling them that they should exercise.

 

The first, and in my opinion by far the most significant, barrier is social norms. Amongst the elderly generation, it is widely considered that exercise is something for younger people. This holds specifically true for resistance training, which is not only stereotyped for being exclusively for young people, but young men specifically- making older women twice as likely to disregard it. As well as being the most significant barrier, I also believe it is by far the most difficult to change. If someone has held a belief for 60+ years, the chances of them changing it are slim. Although, education goes a long way and it’s important to make small steps. An example of this would be encouraging a group of elderly people who already partake in aqua aerobics to try the light resistance class. And for the sedentary, instead of trying and get a book club into a strength training programme, start them off by encouraging a group walk. Also, from an individual point of view, if you are an elderly person who wants to become more physically active then putting yourself in the right environment, like a water aerobics class, is going to surround you with more like-minded individuals, and make it a lot less daunting should you choose to tackle a more demanding form of physical activity.

 

Next, there’s the physical barriers. Older people may have sustained many injuries over the years, which, combined with a natural loss of muscle elasticity and strength from sarcopenia, can make the prospect of more movement particularly less appealing than if someone had proposed the idea to them 30 years prior. To combat this, hiring the right professional can be key in making exercise pain free and enjoyable. A good personal trainer can identify any movement limitations you may have and provide an exercise programme which addresses these issues as well as making you stronger and healthier. For more serious issues, the right medical professional will be needed.

 

Next, there’s the fear of venturing into the unknown. Most people in their 20’s will have at least been to a gym a few times, even if they have not adhered to a programme they will have familiarity to what basic movements look like such as a squat or shoulder press. However, 40-60 years ago, gyms were a lot less common and therefore elderly people now haven’t acquired any knowledge of resistance training. Therefore, if they were to feel confident enough to go into a gym, they simply would not know where to begin, which can make the experience even more daunting and overwhelming than it already is. To combat this, there is a few options depending on one’s budget. The gold standard would be to hire a good personal trainer, who will provide a bespoke programme to you as well as educating you on correct exercise execution and the benefits of each exercise, so you can truly value the experience and the positive impact each part of the session can have on your life.

 

One important thing to note which often gets missed with elderly people is that their nutritional needs change as they get older. For instance, within the fitness industry it’s common knowledge that 2.2g of protein per kg of bodyweight per day, spread out over 4-6 servings will optimise protein synthesis, leading to optimal recovery. However, what is less widely documented is that protein requirements increase with age. The amount it increases is approximately 0.2g of protein per kg of bodyweight per day for every decade after 20’s. For example, someone in their 30’s would need 2.4g per kg of bodyweight per day and someone in their 40’s would need 2.6g per kg of bodyweight per day and so on. Now, this amount is particularly large once you get into the 60’s etc. Therefore, it’s important to recommend supplements that elderly people will enjoy, so that every meal isn’t just an enormous serving of meat in which will take a large amount of digestive power to breakdown.

 

Overall, many elderly people do experience barriers to exercise that many people fail to identify. That is why it’s important to meet them where they’re at, and help them in addressing them in a way that’s bespoke to that individual, to give them the best chance at adhering to a lifestyle of regular physical activity.

Are you reading this and are some points resonating with you? Would a small group personal training session for more elderly populations be something that you would be interested in? If so send us a message and if we can get a few individuals interested this is something that we would be happy to facilitate.

Principles of Training – Specificity

Different methods of training provide our bodies with a diverse range of stimuli, which in turn cause a wide variety of adaptations. This is why we need to apply the principle of specificity, which ensures that the training we are doing will provide our bodies with the correct stimuli to cause the desired adaptation and bring about the desired change to our performance or aesthetic measures of our physique.

 

In order to apply specificity, we need to work backwards. By this, I mean we first establish what element of our performance or aesthetic we want to change. In other words, this is your goal, such as lose body fat, increase muscle mass, run a faster 5k or increase your deadlift 1RM. Next, we take this change to performance or aesthetic and identify what adaptation will cause this.

 

To give some practical examples, let’s take some common goals and walk through the process of devising a training programme to optimise results. Firstly, it’s important to note that nutrition is paramount in any training goal you may have. However, as this article is only about applying specificity to our training programmes, we won’t touch upon that in this article.

 

If we look at programmes to increase muscle mass (hypertrophy) or optimise fat loss they are actually identical, it’s the nutrition which will differ. This is because in both of these programmes we want to provide as much stimulus to the muscle so that they have the best environment for growth when in a calorie surplus and the best environment to be retained in a deficit, thereby optimising fat loss.

 

When making a training programme ideal for optimising hypertrophy we need to look at which aspects of training that cause hypertrophy. These include: training close to/muscular failure on a regular basis, ensuring enough volume is completed on each muscle group throughout the week and ideally training each muscle group on 2 separate days per week. When it comes to training close to/at failure, it’s worth noting that this must be achieved by not only training hard but also selecting exercises with a high external stability so that it’s fatigue on the target muscle that is the limiting factor and not something else such as a loss of balance. Without this, we will have to cease the set prior to the muscle being close to failure and thereby not achieving our goal of that set.

 

Volume has been shown to have a linear relationship with hypertrophy i.e. when looking at it purely through the lens of specificity, the more volume, the better results. However, we need to apply the other principles of training in order to identify the optimal volume for each individual at a given time in their training cycle.

 

Next, let’s take a look at applying specificity to a popular performance based goal such as running a faster 5k. Now this is very context specific as there’s so many factors that go into improving 5km performance. Therefore, which element of training someone focuses on will differ between individuals, this will be talked about in much greater detail during the next blog on individualisation.

 

From a general perspective though, we need to identify that about 88-90% aerobic. Therefore, countless HIT sessions are not going to be very beneficial for 5km performance. Instead, we need to train aerobically for the vast majority of sessions. These are going to be made up of long easy runs, typically at an intensity around 60-65% of maximum heart rate. At this intensity, you should be able to hold a conversation quite easily, if you need to walk to achieve this then that is fine. Other types of training will be tempo runs and intervals where you are at the threshold between aerobic and anaerobic performance. This will help your body adapt to getting rid of lactic acid and be able to stay in aerobic respiration at faster paces. Lastly, a small proportion of the sessions will be anaerobic, working on speed endurance, as this accounts for a small part of 5km performance.

 

Overall, specificity is arguably the most important principle of training because if you get it wrong, your training can be extremely unproductive. The last thing you want to do is put 100% effort into a training programme only to fall massively short of your goals all because your sessions were bringing about ineffective adaptations in relation to your goals. Therefore, it is essential you learn how to apply the principle of specificity prior to writing any training programme.

Is fasting the best approach for fat loss?

What is fasting?

Before getting into the pros and cons, first we need to define fasting. Fasting can be defined as a period of time refraining from food. Some fasts allow for water, whilst others do not. This extreme approach often results in extreme results but is this beneficial for fat loss?  To allow us to critically analyse this we need to identify the factors of a lifestyle that must occur to result in optimal fat loss.

 

  • A Calorie Deficit:

 

A calorie deficit is where one expends more calories than they consume. A fast achieves this as you literally consume 0 calories. Therefore, this will guarantee weight loss. However, note this is weight loss, some of which will be fat tissue but what proportion is fat tissue will be due to other factors that are mentioned below.

 

In the case of intermittent fasting (typically eating in an 8-hour window of each day). Some calories are consumed so the approach is not as extreme. However, when compared with any other approach that results in the same calorie deficit, fat loss results are no better. Although, some find it as a great tool to control calorie intake, therefore it’s positives and negatives can change person to person.

 

  • Adequate protein intake.

 

Protein contributes to the growth and maintenance of muscle tissue. This is very important when trying to optimise fat loss because when we are in a calorie deficit, the body will lose weight via fat and muscle tissue (water too in the short term). Therefore, if we want to maximise fat loss, we need to do everything we can to maintain the muscle tissue we have and consuming adequate amounts of protein is vital for this to occur.

 

Fasting does not allow us to consume adequate amounts of protein. In fact, it allows us to consume no protein whatsoever. Therefore, when one loses weight via fasting, a considerably higher proportion will be lost via muscle mass vs if they had adopted a calorie deficit that allowed them to consume a protein intake of around 2.2g per kg of bodyweight. To put this into a practical example, someone who is 75kg would have to consume 165g of protein per day to maximise muscle retention whilst in a calorie deficit.

 

In the case of intermittent fasting, consuming adequate daily protein is possible. However, protein timing is also important as muscle protein synthesis (the process by whilst muscle is built and/or retained) dips every 4 hours. Therefore, if you don’t consume anything for 16 hours, then muscle retention will be very low for 12 hours a day, rendering poorer results compared to if you had adopted the same calorie deficit but spaced out your protein intake across the day.

 

 

 

 

 

  • Adequate Sleep

 

When we sleep, muscle protein synthesis is elevated. Therefore, in order to optimise muscle retention, one needs to get enough sleep. This will differ depending on a person’s age and training but a good rule of thumb for optimal sleep would be 7 hours + how many hours training you did that day. For example, if you trained for an hour then you will need 8 hours sleep for optimal recovery.

 

When fasting, people can respond differently to how it affects their sleep. For many though, feelings of hunger leave them restless and unable to fall to sleep. This reduction in sleep, and therefore recovery.

 

  • Adherence

You’re going to be consuming food for the rest of your life so unless you can confidently say that you can fast/intermittently fast for the rest of your life, then the chances are you will give up at some stage and fall into old habits. That’s why choosing a nutritional approach that you can adhere too is crucial for long term success. For many, fasting is very restrictive and boring to follow after a period of time and therefore not a good approach for many to choose. However, for others intermittent fasting is easy to follow, therefore it is down to you to be honest with yourself about what approach is best for you. Remember that your diet should not feel like a chore.

 

  • Adequate resistance training

 

Although this is technically not part of one’s diet. It is important to mention that resistance training contributes to the maintenance of muscle tissue in a calorie deficit and is therefore a non-negotiable for anyone looking to optimise fat loss. Amount of training needed in order to achieve this will differ between individuals but a good rule of thumb would be 2-3 whole body resistance sessions per week.

 

Fasting can leave people feeling energised in the short term but very low energy after a longer period of time. This will directly impact resistance training sessions that require glucose to fuel your sessions. We convert glucose primarily from glycogen via Glycogenolysis but also can also get it from proteins and fats (via gluconeogenesis). Therefore, it is important to perform resistance training sessions properly fuelled if you want to maximise fat loss in the long term.

 

Summary:

Overall, fasting and intermittent fasting does not seem to optimise fat loss. But remember that fat optimisation is only really important for anyone wanting to get to really lean levels of body fat (12% or below for men and 17% or below for women). If you are really struggling to keep off the first few pounds of body fat and you feel that intermittent fasting is the only tool that you can adhere to, then it’s a perfectly viable tool to use.

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.