Weight training has so many fantastic health benefits, hormonal benefits and the most effective way to Improve your physique. I always advise that cardio should be an accessory to weight training IF your goal is physique based. Improve your physique and at the same time hormonal improvements which will aid better fat loss and physique changes long term. From how quick we burn food with metabolism, how much insulin is signalled after a blood sugar spike from our food, to then where it goes, I. E muscle repair or fat storage. To increased growth hormone, which aids towards muscle building and fat loss and sex hormones estrogen and testosterone which over time decrease and over time increase the risks of osteoporosis, low energy levels, low level muscle growth heart disease etc For better health and body composition long term start lifting weights!
Many when starting a new health journey aim to make big reductions in waist line spend much effort in correcting food but dismiss sugar free/diet effects for long term health and fat loss goals. I have worked with many that have a large intake of these liquids and seen how it plays a huge role in fat storage around the abdominal area.
Additives such a as aspartame have been shown to stimulate appetite especially for carbohydrate and sugar cravings and encourage fat storage. If you are substituting these as a ‘healthier’ alternative to water and are struggling to see changes in waist line, I suggest trying these tips in the video for better health and better fat loss!
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Intermittent fasting has amazing health benefits.
1- It taps into fat stores
2- It has great hormonal changes, growth hormone increases, insulin drops, cellular repair and beneficial changes in genes that are related to longevity and protection against disease.
3- it can reduce Insulin resistance and reduction in blood sugar levels
4- Reduces inflammation in the body and gives the gut a rest
It does not slow down the metabolism or cause the body to go into starvation mode. It would take a prolonged amount of time of little or no food for the body to hit that mode. We as humans have been fasting for a very long time and evolved to be able to survive with periods of no food through fast and famine.
Always opt for I. Fasting of no food, only black coffee, green tea and water over low calorie/fast days for the hormonal changes to improve health and fat loss
What is insulin?
Insulin is a hormone that controls your blood sugar levels. It’s made in the pancreas and helps move sugar from your blood into your cells for storage. When cells are insulin resistant they can’t use insulin effectively, leaving blood sugar levels high. The problem with this is when your pancreas becomes aware of the high blood sugar it creates more insulin as a solution to the resistance and reduce your blood sugar. Many life style factors from eating and drinking high sugar foods and liquids that spike our blood sugars up high is a high contributor towards causing insulin resistance which long term can deplete the pancreas of insulin producing cells that can lead to type 2 diabetes.
So, we want to become insulin sensitive to help lower blood sugar spikes when we eat sugar or high carbohydrate foods. But how can we create more sensitivity?
Here are a few things that have been shown to increase it:
Getting a good night sleep is important to health. Neglecting sleep not only makes us feel rubbish, but can cause havoc on our hormones. A lack of sleep can increase your risk of infections, heart disease and type 2 diabetes and increase insulin resistance. Sleep time is prime time for body repair and recovery. Studies show that poor sleep is linked to reduced insulin sensitivity.
Especially so when you train with weights! It helps to move sugar into the muscles for storage and promotes an immediate increase in insulin sensitivity This is why it is common post training for people to eat something packed in high sugar or carbs (and others like to have a cheeky treat) because the sugar taken in is used for muscle recovery, not storage.
Stress causes havoc on our hormones, make us feel tired and overall rubbish! It also affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar. When we stress, our body goes into the ‘fight or flight’ mode, which stimulates the production of the stress hormones such as cortisol and glucagon. These hormones break down glycogen which is a form of stored sugar, into glucose which then enters your bloodstream for your body to use as a quick source of energy. Long term stress keeps stress hormones high and depletes hormones which can leave people feeling very tired on a daily basis. High stress levels stimulate nutrient breakdown and increase blood sugar. Stress hormones also make the body more insulin resistant. If you are looking to drop belly fat, look at reducing your stress, as this is the first place it stores in response to the high level stress. Try things like meditation, get more sleep and exercise to reduce stress levels and help increase insulin sensitivity.
Reduce waist line
Excess weight especially around the belly, reduces insulin sensitivity and the risk of type 2 diabetes. Many studies support the link between high amounts of belly fat and lower insulin sensitivity, lowering stress levels and increased exercise along with a good healthy diet (look at taking out simple carbohydrates such as sugary processed foods like cakes and sweets, high fructose sugar drinks) would be a good protocol to reduce belly fat.
Herbs and spices such as fenugreek, turmeric, ginger and garlic have shown to have great health benefits and also potentially help increase insulin sensitivity.
Fenugreek seeds: high in soluble fibre which helps make insulin more effective.
Turmeric: Contains curcumin, which has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It increases insulin sensitivity by reducing free fatty acids and sugar in the blood .
Ginger: Studies have found that its active component gingerol makes sugar receptors on muscle cells more available, increasing sugar uptake (48).
Garlic: Garlic has been shown to improve insulin secretion and have anti- oxidant properties to increase insulin sensitivity in animal studies.
Cinnamon: Known for its ability to reduce blood sugar and increase insulin sensitivity. Studies suggest that cinnamon increases insulin sensitivity by helping receptors for glucose on muscle cells become more available and efficient at transporting sugar into the cells. I always suggest to my clients when going through food plans to sprinkle cinnamon on their food if they are going to eat something sugary or sweet to reduce the insulin spike and reduce fasting blood sugars.
Green tea is known for being a high antioxidant lower caffeine alternative tea. Studies have shown that drinking green tea can increase insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugars which could be due to the powerful antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which studies have found it to increase insulin sensitivity.
Cut down on carbs, added sugars and trans-fats
Carbs are the main cause of insulin blood sugars to increase. When the body digests carbs into sugar and releases it in the blood it’s the pancreas job to release insulin to transport the sugar from the blood into the cells. By reducing your carb intake, especially one of a high simple carbohydrate diet, you are not requiring big spikes in blood sugar consistently throughout the day. Big sugar spikes put a high demand on the pancreas to remove the sugar from the blood which can long term lead to type 2 diabetes. Opt for healthier lower GI (slow release of sugar into the blood) such as sweet potato or brown rice carbs and space your carbs out throughout the day. Look to eat carbs around time of training when you become more insulin sensitive.
Trans-fats are very bad for our health. They provide no health benefits and increase the risk in many diseases. They can be found in many processed foods such as pies, doughnuts fried fast foods. Animal studies show to have a strong evident link that high trans-fat intake to poor blood sugar and insulin resistance.
Added sugars are found in more highly processed foods, whereas natural sugars are found in sources such as plants and vegetables. There are two main types of sugar added during the production process which as high fructose corn syrup and table sugar, aka sucrose. Many studies have found that a higher intake of fructose can increase insulin resistance among those with diabetes and without.
A few others ideas to try are increasing colourful fruit and vegetables which have been linked to increase insulin sensitivity and cider vinegar that could help increase insulin sensitivity by improving insulin effectiveness. It delays the food release from the stomach and gives insulin more time to act.
Eat more soluble fibre
Eating soluble fibre has many health benefits such as aiding digesting and aids fat loss. It also helps feed the friendly bacteria in your gut. Several studies show a link between a high soluble fibre intake and increased insulin sensitivity.
Many different supplements may increase insulin sensitivity and other great health benefits, but chromium, berberine, magnesium and resveratrol are backed by the most consistent evidence.
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In my previous blog about the metabolism we learnt about things that can slow down the metabolism (which you can read by clicking here) and how food and exercise can increase it, but what type of foods can help to boost our metabolism?
We want to have a high metabolism because the higher it is, the more calories we effectively burn, therefore the easier it is to maintain your weight or get rid of unwanted body fat.
Here is a list of a few metabolism boosting foods that are worth bringing into your diet, along with the other health benefits they have.
How? By requiring your body to use more energy to digest them. Also known as the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF). TEF refers to the number of calories needed by your body to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meals. Research shows that protein rich foods increase TEF the most in comparison to carbs and fat.
Iron zinc and selenium rich foods- Meat, seafood, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Although they all play different roles in functioning the body, they have one thing in common. All three are required for the proper function of your thyroid gland which regulates metabolism.
Coconut oil is high in medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) which is contrary to most other types of fats that usually contain higher amounts of long chain fatty acids. Once MCTs are absorbed they go directly to the liver to be turned into energy, making them less likely to be stored as fat. Studies also show that MCTs increase metabolic rate more than longer chain fats
According to research the combination of caffeine and catechins that found in tea may work to boost your metabolism. Teas such as oolong and green tea may increase metabolism by 4-10% burning an extra 100 calories per day. It may help your body used stored fat for energy more effectively, increasing your fat burning ability by up to 17% but it does very from person to person.
Studies report that caffeine found in coffee can help to increase metabolic rate by up to 11%. Caffeine may also help your body burn fat for energy and seems to be especially effective at boosting workout performance. Effects vary person to person.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar may increase your metabolism. Several animal studies have shown the vinegar to be helpful to increase the amount of fat burned for energy but only few studies have investigated the matter directly in humans. Although, Apple cider vinegar may still help you burn fat in other ways such as slowing stomach empting and enhancing feelings of fullness. Cider vinegar is a great health alternative for the usual salad dressings. Try sprinkling cider vinegar on your salad.
It’s important to stay hydrated in order to help our body function properly. For example, a few water benefits are: Balance of body fluids, energise the muscles, improve body and brain function. Drinking water may also temporarily boost metabolism by 24-30%. 40% of that increase may come from your body trying to match the water’s temperature to its own. the effects last for about 60-90 minutes and will vary person to person.
Capsaicin is a chemical found in chili peppers that may boost your metabolism by increasing the number of calories and fat you burn. Research shows that capsaicin can help your body burn around an extra 50 calories per day and also may have appetite reducing properties.
Legumes and pulses– Lentils, peas, chickpeas, beans and peanuts.
They are higher in protein compared to other plant foods, and because of their high protein content, your body requires a greater number of calories to digest them.
Legumes are high in arginine which is an amino acid that may increase the amount of cabs and fat your body can burn for energy.
They contain dietary fibre such as resistant starch and soluble fibre which your body can use to feed the good bacteria living in your intestines. The good bacteria produce short chain fatty acids which may help your body use stored fat as energy and maintain normal blood sugar levels.
Cacao and cocoa taste great and have some metabolism boosting benefits, especially for those consuming a high calorie, high fat diet.
Studies on mice show that the extracts from the cocoa may promote the use genes that stimulate the use of fat for energy, more so on the high fat or high calorie diets. One study shows that cocoa may prevent the action of enzymes necessary to break down fat and carbs during digestion, which means in could play a role in preventing weight gain by reducing absorption of some calories.
Certain spices are thought to have health and metabolism boosting properties.
Ginger powder in hot water and drinking it with a meal may help you burn up to 43 more calories than drinking hot water alone research shows. It can also decrease levels of hunger and enhance feelings of satiety.
Cayenne pepper has also been shown to increase the amount of fat your body burns for energy.
Seaweed contains iodine, a mineral required for the production of thyroid hormones and proper function of your thyroid. The thyroid hormones have various functions but the one that is relative to this blog is the regulation of metabolic rate. Some types of seaweed such as kelp are extremely high in iodine but should not be consumed in large amounts. Fucoxanthin is another compound found in some varieties of seaweed to help boost metabolism. Look out for brown seaweed varieties for the metabolism boosting effects.
The metabolism plays a big role when looking to burn fat, keep it off and generally make overall body composition changes. The body requires energy for the many functions that it does and that’s without including any extra physical or mental stress we load on our bodies. Examples are breathing, circulating blood, adjusting hormone levels, growth and repairing of cells. The number of calories our body uses to carry out these basic functions is known as your basal metabolic rate (the metabolism). Many things can factor into the speed of metabolism, such as age, gender, body size and composition. Food processing and exercise also determine how many calories we burn, which we can play to our advantage being external factors we can control. Weight Training is great for food by speeding up the metabolism, which is why it is more effective in the long term for overall body composition results to doing cardiovascular training alone. Cardiovascular doesn’t rev up the metabolism quite like weight training does.
So we know what can speed up the metabolism, but what about things that can hinder and slow the metabolism down?
There are several common lifestyle mistakes that may be slowing down your metabolism and doing these on a regular basis could make it harder to lose weight and generally slow it down.
Eating too few calories can cause the metabolism slowdown in fear starvation and slows down the metabolism, burning food slower as a survival tactic and lowers the rate at which it burns calories. Although calorie deficit is practised often for weight loss, it can be counterproductive to drop the calorie intake far too long and for long periods of time and cause havoc on the hormones, making long term fat loss more difficult. Many people hit a crash when the calories are dropped for too long, causing them to over feed. The weight packs back on quickly as the metabolism cannot burn off the calories as efficiently and naturally opts for fat storage.
Studies show that when obese women are 420 calories per day for 4-6 months, their resting metabolic rates slowed down significantly and what’s more, even after their calorie intake was increased for the following 5 weeks, their resting metabolic remained much lower than before the diet.
If you choose to restrict calorie intake then it shouldn’t be dropped too low or for too long.
Protein is vitally important for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight or body composition goal. Protein plays a big role in repair and recovery of the muscles, especially after physical exercise such as weight training, or generally high intensity exercise. Eating protein helps you feel full and can significantly increase the rate at which your body burns calories. This is because the increase in metabolism that occurs after digestion, the ‘thermic effect of food’ (TEF). The thermic effect protein is much higher than the thermic effect of carbs or fat. Eating protein has been shown to temporarily increase metabolism by about 20-30%, whereas 5-10% for carbs and 3% or less for fat.
The metabolic rate slows down during weight loss but protein has been shown to minimise this effect.
Having a sedentary lifestyle can lead to a decrease in number of calories you burn every day. Now this doesn’t necessarily mean just sitting at home watching TV all day, but simple things such as sitting at work behind a desk all day can have negative effects on the metabolic rate and overall health. Simple things such as standing up, cleaning and walking up stairs require energy and burn calories, not just sports and intense exercise does. This type of activity is referred to as non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT).
Simple things such as working at a standing desk, taking a long walk on your lunch break can help increase your NEAT and prevent the metabolism from dropping.
One study found that performing a high amount of NEAT regularly can burn up to 2,000 additional calories per day, however this dramatic increase is probably not realistic for most people!
We all know how difficult it is to function with our daily tasks when we miss out on just a few short hours of kip the night before. Sleeping just a few less hours than you need to doesn’t just impact you physically and mentally but can increase the risk of number of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and depression. Not getting enough or even quality sleep has been shown to lower your metabolic rate and increase the likelihood of weight gain.
Sugar sweetened drinks are terrible for our health. A high consumption of sodas and sugary drinks have been linked to various health problems such as insulin resistance, diabetes and obesity which mainly can be down to the fructose contained within them. Table sugar contains 50% fructose, whereas high fructose corn syrup contains 55% fructose. Studies suggest that frequent consumption of sugar sweetened beverages may slow down metabolism and research in animals and humans has shown that excessive fructose consumption promotes increased fat storage in the belly and liver.
Strength training has been shown to increase metabolic rate in healthy people as well as those who have heart disease, overweight or obese.
Resistance training increases muscle mass and having a higher amount of fat free mass significantly increases the numbers of calories you burn at rest.
Studies shown that even doing small amounts of strength training appears to boost energy expenditure. One study showed that in six months, people who performed resistance training for 11 minutes per day for three days a week experienced a 7.4% increase in resting metabolic rate and burned 125 extra calories a day on average.
Not doing any strength training can cause the metabolic rate to decline, especially during weight loss and as we get older.