An Introduction to the Keto Diet

Lets begin with introducing what is ketosis and how to achieve this state. Well, Ketosis is a condition where your Ketones levels are high within your body. These molecules (Ketones) can be seen as alternative fuel for your body, and usually this alternative fuel is used by many organs in the body when its necessary.

Perhaps many of you know that the body is counting on three main macro nutrients as fuel source such as the carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Mainly, the carbohydrates and fats are the primary energy sources, and the protein is utilised as well but in lesser degree.

However, once in the blood stream these macro nutrients get processed and they are broken down to their simplest building blocks, in other words carbohydrates are broken down to glucose, fats to fatty acids, and protein to amino acids.

Mostly, the body uses glucose as well as fatty acids as energy fuel, but our brain relies only on glucose due to the fact that fatty acids cant diffuse into the brain. But in many circumstances such as being in fasted state, our body has a deficit of glucose which eventually our body activates its mechanism to use ketones as alternative fuel.

In the classic Keto diet, the macro nutrients usually consist of 80-90% fats, 10-15% protein, and carbohydrates roughly 5%. You can consume these fats in different forms such as coconut butter/oil, olive oil, nuts, fatty fishes and others. The protein can be acquired through fatty meats and fish, and carbohydrates should be consumed from vegetables.

Usually prior to starting the diet, the body should be in fasted state for 1-2 days. This type of diet is used for therapeutically purposes, and strict control and calorie consumption monitoring is required. When used therapeutically, most people see effects after 2-3 months after its start.

Looking at Keto diet used in sports, its important to mention that there are many variations of the Keto diet and this type of diet is recommended to replace the medium-high carbohydrate consumption, in order to improve sporting performance.

Even though there are a lot of researches on Keto diet and also there is a lot of contradiction. Looking at offroad cyclists that were on Keto diet, it is observed improved VO2 max and the oxygen flow in VO2 Lactate Treshold. On the other hand, it is observed better results in power output in the group that was on consumption of normal quantity of carbohydrates (Zajac, A., et al., 2014).

In another research where keto diet was used by artistic gymnasts for 30 days, there is no difference in power output, but decreased weight loss and lower bodyfat % is observed (Paoli et, al., 2012). Most of the scientific data suggest that Keto diet has the following identical outcomes such as:

  • Low carbohydrate or ketogenic diet regimen can help the improvement of the body composition mainly through weight loss and the excess fats, but its not optimal for building muscle mass
  • When optimal sporting performance is pursued, including aerobic and anaerobic physical activity, it is necessary to consume atleast moderate quantity of carbohydrates.

To conclude this, it is important to state that the most important aspect of following a diet regime is to find out the most convenient, delicious and healthy way to adhere in order to achieve the desired goals.

Ibrahim

Paoli, A., Grimaldi, K., D’Agostino, D., Cenci, L., Moro, T., Bianco, A., & Palma, A. (2012). Ketogenic diet does not affect strength performance in elite artistic gymnasts. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 9(1), 1-9.

Zajac, A., Poprzecki, S., Maszczyk, A., Czuba, M., Michalczyk, M., & Zydek, G. (2014). The effects of a ketogenic diet on exercise metabolism and physical performance in off-road cyclists. Nutrients, 6(7), 2493-2508.

Paleo Diet: Genius or Fad?

What is it?

Paleo diet, also known as Paleolithic diet, caveman diet or stone-age diet is an approach to nutrition which mirrors the diet of our Paleolithic ancestors that inhabited the world between 2.5 million to 10.000 years ago.

Paleo diet typically consists of foods that could basically be either hunted or gathered in nature without the need of modern agriculture and farming. This includes lean meats, fish, eggs, fruits, some vegetables, nuts, and seeds. On the other hand the foods that are being avoided can be listed as , yet are not limited to, grains, legumes, dairy products, refined sugar, salt, potatoes, and any highly processed food

Why go Paleo?

The main purpose of this diet is to get rid of all the processed foods that are the staples of our modern western diets.  The reasoning behind it all stems from the fact that processed foods are usually denser in calories which makes it easier to put on weight while making it harder to feel full & satisfied, they are lower in micronutrients which may lead to nutritional deficiencies in the long run, and they also usually tend to be higher on the glycemic-index (especially processed carbohydrates) that can cause unwanted fluctuations in blood sugar levels.

There is also a common belief that the “Paleo foods” are the foods that we are evolved to digest better and thrive on. Considering that our ancestors were following a more physically active lifestyles and diets consisting of whole foods, the occurrence of our modern lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease was much lower. Therefore the expected health benefits of their diet can be listed as:

  • Weight loss
  • Improved glucose tolerance
  • Better blood pressure control
  • Lower triglycerides
  • Better appetite management

 What is it not?

It is most certainly not a magical diet where all you need to pay attention to happens to be just a list of foods to lose weight, and live forever. What diets like these cunningly hide from their following is that the foods that they are eliminating usually tend to contribute a high amount of calories to their standard diets in the first place. And by cutting out those foods, the total caloric intake will almost always be reduced to significant degree.

While for example diets such as low-carb or Keto remove carbohydrates that make up to almost 60% of total caloric intake on average, Paleo diet revolves around eliminating highly processed foods that are a lot higher in calories than most of the foods nature has to offer. And through this clever distraction people end up eating less than they would otherwise.

Another problem with such diets is that they tend to take their roots from any beneficial minor findings on the field of obesity research, and quickly turn them into a be all – end all marketing miracles. With Paleo diet come the new wave of packaged Paleo products which are most of the time not much different than what is already on the market yet have double the price.

Last but not least as romantic as it feels to follow the footsteps of our ancestors we also have to remember that human evolution did not stop in Paleolithic times, and we are still going through various adaptations to our environment and diet. With that said I hope that we can learn from our past, while avoiding to become a zealot for a certain diet.

Aydin Parmaksizoglu

References:

Gunnars, K., 2018. The Paleo Diet — A Beginner’s Guide + Meal Plan. [online] Healthline. Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/paleo-diet-meal-plan-and-menu#TOC_TITLE_HDR_12&gt; [Accessed 16 March 2021].

James, W., Johnson, R., Speakman, J., Wallace, D., Frühbeck, G., Iversen, P. and Stover, P., 2019. Nutrition and its role in human evolution. Journal of Internal Medicine, 285(5), pp.533-549.

McDonald, L., 2014. The Women’s Book: A Guide to Nutrition, Fat Loss, and Muscle Gain. 1st ed. Lyle McDonald.

Mayo Clinic. 2020. Paleo diet: Eat like a cave man and lose weight?. [online] Available at: <https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/paleo-diet/art-20111182&gt; [Accessed 16 March 2021].

Sweeteners: Friend or Foe?

Decades after their introduction to our diets there is still an ongoing debate whether sweeteners are harmful to our health or if they are simply a safe way to suppress your sweet cravings.

First things first we have to understand why it is considered beneficial for us to cut back on sugar, and before that we have to understand the big difference between various sources of sugar. Long story short when it comes to sugar it is all about how it is packaged. Sugars in the form of fruits come with a high fibre content (great for digestion), low glycemic index (meaning they do not cause sudden spikes in your blood sugar) and they provide you with lots of nutrients.

On the other hand the “evil sugars” come in processed forms such as chocolate bars, fizzy drinks, highly processed fruit juices, ice creams, and they are even added to products like soups, breads, etc. They have none of the beneficial stuff which we mentioned above, and they cause an unwanted spike in blood glucose which therefore raises your insulin levels (which eventually make it harder to burn off fat). They also increase triglycerides, cause inflammation in the body which then has the potential to lead to chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

How do sweeteners fair in comparison to sugar then? First of all I have to make it clear that most of the scaremongering claims root from animal studies where extremely high doses of these substances have been used. And believe it or not when it comes to human safety, animal studies are widely considered as a very poor source of information.

Also studies that claim a risk of obesity due to sweetener consumption tend to make the most common mistake of confusing correlation with causation. Most of the time it was not the sweetener that made the participants of these studies overweight but it was the overweight people consuming sweeteners with the aim of losing weight.

Whilst almost all the major health authorities in the world have agreed upon the safety of sweetener consumption, this should not “encourage” us to feast on sweeteners as they are still relatively new to our bodies, and there may still be more to discover over time. In the meantime I would not worry too much about an occasional can of a diet drink. At the end of the day it is usually the dose that makes the poison – you should consume what suits you in healthy moderation.

Aydin

Coffee or No Thanks? A Look Into Caffeine and Sporting Performance

Caffeine is one of the most well known and studied supplement on the planet. It has many physiological effects although it has no nutritional value. However, its effects are associated with stimulating the nervous system and hence improving exercise capacity.  This ‘stimulant’ has been consumed worldwide for centuries and its effects are recognised by many nations. On the other hand athletes are among the groups of people who are interested in the effects of caffeine in endurance exercises and other physical activities.

The available literature suggests that the benefits of caffeine on performance athletes can be seen when moderate amounts of caffeine is consumed (~3mgkg1 body mass).  Also, these benefits are potential for many sports such as in endurance, high intensity activities, and stop-and-go events, there is not much evidence on its direct effect on strength and power activities.

Many studies using moderate to high doses of caffeine (5-9 mg/kg BM) have found ergogenic effects in endurance activities and recognised the effects on the physiological responses to exercise; this include increased heart rate, a doubling of blood catecholamine levels, higher blood lactate levels and also increased blood free fatty acid and glycerol levels in some subjects. On the other hand there are some side effects that could occur such as gastrointestinal upset, mental confusion, nervousness, impaired focus and sleep disturbances. Recent studies have shown that lower doses of caffeine can stimulate an ergogenic effect when consumed prior to exercise in short or long endurance events.

Some practical applications for athletes using caffeine can aid athletes in their performance goals. When considering whether to use caffeine as stimulant, it is recommended athletes to begin with low caffeine doses ~100-200mg, and if higher dose is consumed it does not appear to give additional advantage. However, the response to caffeine is strongly individual, and professional athletes need to see its effect in training before moving to competitions.

Caffeine’s ergogenic effect is independent of habitual caffeine use, training status, diet, gender, hydration status, and exercise modality, but results in the heat are less clear (see Burke et. al., 2013; Spriet, 2014). Also, caffeine can be found and consumed in the form of capsules, coffee, sports and energy drinks, gums, gels, and bars, but mouth rinsing with caffeine is less likely to produce an ergogenic effect. Even not so active individuals use caffeine containing substances in their everyday lives in order to improve their mental alertness or other uses such as pain killers.

Caffeine works by stimulating the central nervous system (CNS), heart, muscles, and the centres that control blood pressure. Caffeine can raise blood pressure, but might not have this effect in people who use it all the time. Caffeine can also act like a “water pill” that increases urine flow. But again, it may not have this effect in people who use caffeine regularly. Also, drinking caffeine during moderate exercise is not likely to cause dehydration.

Additionally, the research on caffeine have determined that lower dose of caffeine ~200mg is ergogenic in different exercise and sport scenarios in recreationally and well-trained individuals men and women. On the other hand, high caffeine doses are associated with unpleasant physiological responses to exercise and additional side effects and do not bring more benefits. The mechanism which explains the ergogenic effect of caffeine is shown from adenosine receptor antagonism in the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. However, the administration of caffeine in the form of capsules, tablets and coffee used in research, caffeine can be delivered in many different forms with similar ergogenic effects.

So, to wrap it up, caffeine consumption in normal quantity brings physiological benefits that could aid physically active individuals in their performance as well as not as active individuals in their everyday lives, but higher dose will not boost its effects and contrariwise it may cause adverse effects.

Ibrahim

References:

Burke, L., B. Desbrow, and L. Spriet (2013). Caffeine for sports performance. Human Kinetics, Champaign, Illinois, USA.

Spriet, L.L. (2014). Exercise and sport performance with low doses of caffeine. Sports Med. 44:S175-S184.

Importance of Post-Workout Nutrition

Many of us know how important the relationship between nutrition and sporting performance is. Usually the main goals of the post workout nutrition are to recover the body from the physiological stress that it went through and prepare it for upcoming activities. Post workout nutrition aims to replenish glycogen that was used during the workout, to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, reduce catabolic processes within the body, and reduce muscle fatigue and soreness.

Of course, the post workout nutrition consists mainly of protein, carbohydrates, and fats but also water, vitamins, minerals, electrolytes and all these nutrients can be consumed in the form of whole foods or supplements. However, the post workout nutrition depends on the goals of an individual. Keep in mind that post workout nutrition of a person who wants to lose fat is significantly different than the person who wants to pack on muscle mass, also their training programs will be individual too.

The post workout meal is all about replenishing what was lost during workout in order to optimize recovery process. Providing the body with the right combination of nutrients is essential for maximizing recovery. Some people prefer to take nutritional supplements to optimize recovery. However, according to a study on using carbohydrate & fat for training and recovery the only people who need to really concern themselves with immediately re-fueling, replenishing glycogen, post workout are those who may have another hard training session within an 8-hour window.

As we know intense workouts can cause break down of muscle protein, and studies have shown that consuming a protein and carbohydrate combination right after an intensive workout, can raise the insulin levels and blunt the effects of muscle protein breakdown. Also it is mentioned that this effect can be achieved by consuming well balanced meal 60+ minutes post workout. On the other hand, muscle protein synthesis is highly desired by many sporting individuals.

Studies suggest that an increase in essential amino acids in the bloodstream has great results on improving the rate of muscle protein synthesis, but other studies have found no significant change. However, another study points to a greater response when protein/carbohydrate is consumed up to 1 hour before workout, which makes sense as we consider the digestion time and the float of amino acid in the blood stream.

Also, another factor is the muscle hypertrophy which is an enlargement of the muscle tissue. Researchers suggest that hypertrophy can be greatly stimulated by consuming pre and post workout supplements. So a question might arise, “Do you need supplements immediately after workout?, according to studies is NO, unless your goal is to “bulk up” or you have multiple workouts in less than 8 hours frame during the day in order to optimize recovery.

Researches seems to support that you would be better off eating a protein / carbohydrate-based meal PRE- workout in order to blunt the effects of muscle breakdown, and promote glycogen replenishment, protein synthesis, and probably hypertrophy. But hey, it really comes down to your individual goals and training, be creative and find what works best for your body and goals. If you see your desired results, keep going with what you are doing, if not make some another changes and find your balance.

By Ibrahim

References:

Burke, L., Kiens, B., & Ivy, J. (2004). Carbohydrates and fat for training recovery. Journal of Sport Sciences, 22, 15-30

Cribb, P., & Hayes, A. (2006). Effects of supplement timing and resistance exercise on skeletal muscle hypertrophy. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 06, 1918-1925.

Newton, P. J. Post Workout Nutrition.

Stark, M., Lukaszuk, J., Prawitz, A., & Salacinski, A. (2012). Protein timing and its effects on muscular hypertrophy and strength in individuals engaged in weight-training. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 9(54), 1-8.

Exercising On An Empty Stomach

Exercising early in the morning can be hard and this can be due to many reasons such as waking up earlier than you’d have liked to or due to the lack of energy that is coming from food in your system. However, it is debatable whether it is a good idea to workout on an empty stomach or if this fasted state is going to cause you adverse effects such as metabolic disbalance.

Let’s take for instance waking up in the morning after 6-12 hour overnight fast. This state will cause your body to somewhat deplete its glycogen and therefore activate the fat burning process by mobilizing the usage of fat as energy to compensate the low glycogen levels. However, as we know when we eat food, our body starts to produce insulin which interferes with the mobilization of body fat.

As the carbohydrates (in the form of glucose) levels are low in the blood stream caused by the overnight fast, more calories from stored fat are burned when exercising to compensate the low glucose levels. Therefore in fasted state less insulin is present which ultimately links to burn more calories that come from stored fats when you do cardio in such fasted state.

Doing cardio in the morning will allow your metabolism to remain high for a period of time after the workout is done and take advantage of the after-burn effect. Of course, you will benefit from doing cardio in the evening, but you will impair the effect of the after burn effect because your metabolic rate drops drastically as soon as you go to sleep. Some researches support this theory, where it has been tested on subjects who burned 1kg of fat faster when exercised in fasted state in the morning, compared to individuals who had few meals throughout the day exercised later.

A study on respiratory gas exchange, caloric expenditure, and carbohydrate/fatty acid metabolism in individuals who exercised after 12 hours of fast has shown 67% of the energy expenditure that came from fat, compared to 50% expenditure achieved when individuals who did the same exercise later in the day or after having food. Also, another study supports the hypothesis that endurance training enhances lipid oxidation in men after a 12 hour overnight fast.

Of course both methods of exercising either in fasted or fed state has their own pros and cons. This highly depends on the individual and their goals. Some other benefits of training on empty stomach can be improved performance and helps avoid stomach upsets. On the other hand there are negatives as well which could be decreased ability to work at higher intensity for longer, lower stamina, and can lead to muscle loss.

As previously mentioned both methods have their benefits and its side effects, this depends all on the individual and its goals. At the end, it is very important to follow your body and find what works and feels best for it. 

Ibrahim

Reference:

Read, F. C. M. F. cardio on an empty stomach.

Aceto, Chris. Everything you need to know about fat loss. Club Creavalle, Inc. (1997)

Bergman, BC, Brooks, GA. Respiratory gas-exchange ratios during graded exercise in fed and fasted trained and untrained men. Journal of Applied Physiology. (1999) 86: 2.

Brehm, B.A., and Gutin, B. Recovery energy expenditure for steady state exercise in runners and non-exercisers. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. (1986) 18: 205,

Gym 101: Progressive Overload

Whether you’re a recreational fitness enthusiast or an elite athlete in order to make the most out of any training programme it is crucial to have a well-structured plan that follows fundamental principles of training. One major component in all training programmes is the principle of progressive overload.

What is the principle of progressive overload?                                                                                        

“Progressive overload is the gradual increase of stress placed on the body during resistance training. In reality, resistance training is only effective for improving health and performance if the human body is continually required to exert a greater magnitude of force to meet higher physiologic demands. Thus, a gradual increase in demand of the resistance training programme is necessary for long-term improvement in muscular fitness and health.” (Kraemer, Ratamess and French, 2002)

This principle isn’t necessarily limited to only resistance training, and can be applied to any type of physical training (running, jumping, lifting, etc.) where the goal is simply to “improve”. There are various ways to implement the principle of progressive overload in your workout regimen and lucky for you below you can find a short list that I prepared for you:

  • Intensity:

You can manipulate the intensity of the exercise by increasing the weight/resistance. Heavier weights or an increased resistance will over time lead to an adaptation by your muscles, connective tissue, bone and nervous system. In other words you will get bigger and stronger!

  • Volume (aka Sets & Reps) :

There are situations where increasing the intensity of the exercise is out of question. Or you may simply want to play around with other aspects of your training. Then increasing the number of repetitions in a given set or increasing the total number of sets for a given exercise is a good option which will eventually lead to improvements in muscular endurance and hypertrophy (increase in muscle size).

  • Tempo:

Tempo is another aspect that could be manipulated to achieve progressive overload in your training. As far as lifting is concerned tempo indicates the time spent in concentric, eccentric as well as isometric parts of the exercise. A quicker concentric contraction will lead to improvements in power while a slower is likely to lead to a longer “time under tension” and eventually to muscular hypertrophy. 

  • Frequency:

This is basically how often you work out in a given time. Let’s say if you work out 3 times a week, then an additional 4th day would lead to an increase in frequency and various adaptations. But this one is a bit tricky as you may not want to increase the frequency forever and end up living in the gym. This can not only hurt your life, but many other aspects of your health as well. So, my advice is to be very mindful with this one and listen to your body. If you constantly start feeling fatigued, don’t see any improvements in the gym for an extended period or struggle with your sleep, these are all your body telling you to slow down a little.

  • Exercise Variety

Last but not least, you can implement different exercises in your routine. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should change your entire routine every session, but once the improvements plateau in your existing plan then you may want to consider replacing some of the exercises with alternatives.

References:

Kraemer, W.J., Ratamess, N.A. & French, D.N. Resistance training for health and performance. Curr Sports Med Rep 1, 165–171 (2002).

Aydin Parmaksizoglu

Staying Active in Cold Weather

The change of seasons causes the ambient temperature changes as well. As we are currently in the winter season, the temperatures drop. When it comes to physical activity, some individuals choose to take exercising indoors and some choose to workout outside in the cold. However as the temperatures are low outside, the temperature of our muscles can also drop, which makes this a huge aspect for the sporting performance.

One of the biggest considerations for training in the cold is the warm up. It is very important to warm up before any type of physical activity especially cold weather, as the cold temperatures can significantly reduce muscle function. The decline of muscle temperature may result in reduced force up to 20% studies suggest, and they can take longer to build force. As we know that the brain sends signals to the muscles via nerves, the rate of nerve conduction slows down in cold circumstances. On the other hand, muscles produce heat when they are activated, which therefore provides a protection from the cold.

Warm up before exercise is crucial in such low temperatures, and can decrease the risk of injury up to 40%. Additionally, warm ups that consist of strengthening, jumping, balance, and agility exercises potentially reduce the risk of non-contact injuries such as ACL-tear. However, exercise form is of a huge importance in such circumstances. Some people rush the warm up section of the workout and neglect its importance, so take some quality time and put effort in to doing correct and effective warm up with good form. This will also make you feel better and ready for exercising in the cold.

Most physical activities outdoor include running, rope skipping, jumping, and others. Studies suggest that dynamic stretching during warm up could be more effective than static stretching. Examples of dynamic stretch can be forward lunges with a twist, knees to chest, high knees, and side shuffle. Static stretches on the other hand include stretch holds for 5-30 seconds, such examples are standing hamstring stretch, shoulder, chest, back, calf, and adductor stretches.

It is suggested that dynamic stretches can help with the warm-up of muscles and improve performance more than prolonged holds of stretches. Now that we know the importance of warm up, another benefit of it is the improved muscle flexibility and readiness for the upcoming exercises. A simple jog for 5 minutes can improve flexibility and warm up the muscles, and can help preventing muscle strains which is a quick stretch of the muscle beyond its flexibility limit. Most of the exercise specialists recommend that warm up and stretching is essential, as studies suggests that it’s a way of injury prevention.

However, the effect of warm up doesn’t last forever. It is also recommended the warm up and stretching to last at least 15 minutes prior physical activity to gain most of its benefits. On the other hand, this means physical activity should be constantly maintained in cold weather while the muscles are still warm and loose, but if you stop and rest for prolonged time muscles gradually cool down and become less flexible which is a thing that we have to avoid. Depending on the exercise or sport, some exercise specific warm-ups may be required.

Reference:

PAY, B. Great Facts And Tips For Warming Up In Cold Weather.

Getting Back Into Routine After the Holidays

Most fitness enthusiasts view holiday season as dietary nightmare, especially around Christmas and New Year’s. However, some people stay active during this period and cheat on their diet, and some people are preferring to spend some time off with family and enjoy the festive period with no specific diet or physical activity. This can result in some excessive weight gain and loss of muscle mass which can lead to demotivation, depression and difficulties in returning to physically active lifestyle.

Most fitness fanatics see this as disaster to their physical appearance and mental wellbeing, but this is not always a bad thing. Around these festive times, allow yourself a different perspective that can help you see how slacking on your diet and training can re-energise and boost your future training and actually help you set achievable fitness goals. This short break won’t make muscle gains completely disappear or make you obese, its just going to make your first few workouts a little harder than they usually are.

In such instance it is recommended to start light weight or bodyweight in order to prepare your body for the upcoming physical stress that you are going to go through. However, first workouts should be light and body weight which will help your heart pump blood around your body and make your muscles burning without tremendous muscle soreness on the next day. There is nothing worse than lifting heavy weights after a break and then skip the next day because you are way too sore to workout again. Also lifting heavy weights after a break can increase the risk of injury that can be avoided by dropping the training load. It is also recommended to plan ahead which can make a lot of difference.

During holiday period you can take this time to figure out what your goals, also its always beneficial to sneak in a quick workout during holidays because a short workout is better than no workout at all. However, it is not advisable to jump back on your old training routine after holidays that level of physical activity is low or no activity done at all. It is recommended to start light, but consistently in order to stimulate your body’s muscles, joints, and nerves and slowly adapt them to the heavier workouts ahead.

There are few tips that can keep your fitness plan on track. It is important to schedule your workouts – by writing your workouts into your schedule, you’ll be more likely to regard them as protected time and actually do them. Another tip is to put exercise first thing in the morning, which guarantees other unforeseen duties during the day will not prevent you from exercising as many studies suggest that our will power is higher early in the day before we’ve had to exert a lot of self-control.

By devoting the first 20 to 30 minutes of each day to exercise not only makes it more likely to happen, but it also makes your early morning workout help you fight food cravings throughout the day as well. Another tip is taking an advantage of seasonal offerings, this can provide you with specials on membership fees, class packages and monthly rates after the holidays. Also squeezing in mini-workouts is very effective during such periods.

Studies have shown that walking just over a mile a day or doing three four-minute bouts of high-intensity exercise per week may be enough to help you maintain your weight and fitness level. By using the tips provided here, you should have ample time and motivation to do that much or more during or post-holiday season.

Reference:

Shepard, B., & ACE-CPT, A. R. Holiday Workout Tips.

Aliotti, G. Gina’s ‘No Gym’Holiday Workout.

Nutrition Strategies For Bodybuilding

Unlike most other sports that use resistance training as a part of their training routine, sports like bodybuilding, powerlifting, and Olympic lifting solely focus primarily on resistance training with very little accessory work. Among these sports bodybuilding’s primary goal is to induce skeletal muscle hypertrophy.

Bodybuilders follow a special type of training style, usually of a greater volume with higher numbers of repetitions and sets per each muscle group, with very little rest times in between. This leads to the fact that the sport of bodybuilding also requires a hypertrophy focused diet. Therefore it is widely accepted in literature that high carbohydrate and high protein intakes are crucial for bodybuilders in that they help fuel demanding workouts, whilst also boosting recovery, and maintaining anabolism. 

Helms, Aragon and Fitschen (2014) claim that most bodybuilding athletes would respond best to consuming 2.3-3.1g/kg of lean body mass per day of protein, about 15-30% of estimated energy intake from fat, and the rest of calories in the form of carbohydrates. On the other hand Lambert, Frank and Evans (2004) argue that bodybuilders should consume about 55-60% of their EEI (Estimated Energy Intake) in form of carbohydrates, about 25-30% in form of protein and the remaining 15-20% as fat, for both the off-season as well as the pre-contest phases (see table below).

Table 1. Comparison between recommended macronutrient breakdowns from literature

MacronutrientHelms, Aragon and FitschenLambert, Frank and Evans
Protein2.3-3.1g/kg BW25-30% EEI
CarbohydrateRest55-60% EEI
Fat15-30% EEI15-20% EEI

As pointed out earlier during both off-season and pre-contest phases 25-30% of calories should come in the form of protein. This is not only because of proteins contribution to optimal hypertrophy and prevention of muscle loss, but also due to its relatively large thermic effects which could assist in reducing or maintaining body fat levels. Antonio et al. (2015) also suggests that the consumption of a high protein diet (3.4g/kg/d) whilst following a resistance-training programme may aid with regards to body composition. Antonio et al. (2016) also denies the claims that a high protein diet might have negative health effects due to a lack of evidence in scientific literature.

The consumption of 55-60% of calories in form of carbohydrates in both off-season and pre-contest periods is considered to be beneficial in regards to maintenance of training intensity. Guidelines on this field suggest an intake of carbohydrates up to 6g/kg of body mass for male strength athletes.

When it comes to the third macronutrient that is fat it is important to find the optimal range for the individual athlete as excess dietary fat (especially saturated) can increase the occurrence of coronary artery disease whilst an intake below requirements can result in a reduction in circulating testosterone, which is extremely counter-productive. That is why Lambert, Frank and Evans (2004) recommends an intake of fat that would comprise 15-20% of the athletes’ off-season and pre-contest diet.

Finally the fluid consumption also requires close monitoring. Leiper, Carnie and Maughan (1996) express that the daily amount of fluid loss can exceed 3L in inactive populations, and this number in active populations can almost reach up to 5L.

Aydin Parmaksizoglu

IG: aydinpar

References:

(Slater and Phillips, 2011)

(Lambert and Flynn, 2002)

(Lambert, Frank and Evans, 2004)