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Amino acids – What role do they play in muscle building, weight loss and fitness?

Amino Acids. What role do they play in muscle building, weight loss and fitness? Learn what Aminos are an how the effect your body.

Why do the majority of people who go to the gym to build muscle know so little of amino acids and protein, and their importance in achieving our goal of muscle building? Amino acids; everyone has heard of them, protein powders list them. So what is the importance of them? Do we really need them?

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and also muscle tissue. And they also play a major part in physiological processes relating to our energy, recovery, mood, brain function, muscle and strength gains, and also in our quest for fat loss.

There are 23 amino acids and 9 of these are classed as essential or indispensable amino acids (IAA) that must be obtained from our nutritional intake. The others are termed dispensable amino acids (DAA) or non-essential due to the body being able to synthesise them from other amino acids.

When we eat a meal we don’t pay much attention to the content and balance of amino acids but the content of the meal determines the body and health building value of the protein food or supplement. In addition the importance of the amino acids content of our meal is important to support maximum growth we also have to take another factor into account which is to what extent these amino acids are actually delivered to the tissues when they are needed which takes us to the issues of digestion, absorption and also the bioavailability.

What is Bioavailability?
Eating our protein foods such as lean meats and non-fat dairy products, or having our protein drinks are the most common ways that we get our amino acids, we also can obtain amino acids from vegetables, and legumes also have levels of most amino acids. We can also use protein drinks and amino acid supplements as a convenient means to supplement our dietary needs.

The reason we use these supplements is the bioavailability of the amino acids. Bioavailability is a measure of the efficiency of delivery and how much of what is ingested is used for its intended use by the body. There are factors which determine the amino acid bioavailability. One is how much fat is contained in the protein source and the length of time it takes for the amino acids to be available for use by the body.
Cooking also can affect the amino acids; some are more or less sensitive to heat and cooking may cause decomposition of some amino acids. The physical nature of the particular food is also a factor, whether it is solid, liquid, powder, or even tablet, and to what extent it is chemically pre-digested as some amino acid supplements are, fillers and binders also can have an affect on the digestion of the amino acid. The condition of our digestive system can also have an affect on amino acid digestion, genetics, age, health, specific diseases and illnesses all have an affect on our digestion.

Amino acids and Bodybuilding
Exercise, hormones and nutrients will all cause muscle growth. As will supplementation of free form amino acids high in the branch chain amino acids (BCAA’s) Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. The best time for us to get our amino acids is immediately after our training when the muscle is especially receptive to nutrients and also blood flow to the exercised muscles which still remains high. The solution to optimising our recovery and growth after training is a s meal composed of protein with both simple and some complex carbohydrates. This is the time when ideally we require a fast digesting protein such as whey protein.

Amino Acid Supplementation
The popularity of amino acid supplements has increased dramatically. Packaged workout and recovery drinks that contain hydrolysed (pre-digested) proteins and often some free-form amino acids can be found in most gyms. Also tubs of powdered or capsulated amino acids are being used by an increasing number of weight trainers. The good thing about these supplements is that they don’t require digestion like food does. The term free-form means that they are free of chemical bonds to other molecules and as such move quickly through the stomach, into the small intestines where they are very rapidly absorbed into the blood stream. When absorbed, amino acids are processed by the liver. The liver can only process so many at one time, so by taking a dose of 3-4g of amino acids these will be rapidly absorbed and would exceed the liver’s capacity which would result in the amino acids being directed to the tissues that would require them such as muscle that is recovering from your training.

Amino Acids and Energy
A lot of misconceptions exist about the muscle contraction and the use of energy substrates during heavy high intensity weight training. When performing your training using repetitive power workouts a substantial portion of your energy comes from non-carbohydrate sources. When your muscles contract they use stores of adenosine triphosphate (ATP, a substance vital to the energy processes of all our living cells) for the first few seconds. The compound used to immediately replenish these stores is creatine phosphate (CP). This is how the supplement creatine, became so popular to bodybuilders and strength trained athletes. Creatine is made from three amino acids: arginine, methionine and glycine.

To keep our CP and ATP levels high, these amino acids must be kept elevated in our blood stream. The amino acids in creatine supplements can be supplied by foods in our diet but the process of elevating these amino acids takes a great deal of time in digestion, and also would be accompanied by fats and carbohydrates which may or may not be desired. So the use of free form amino acids, either alone or in combination with creatine supplements can provide direct source of energy for power and strength.

Amino Acids & Fat Loss
In fat loss two major processes must occur (1) the mobilisation and circulation of stored fats in the body must be increased; and (2) Fats must be transported and converted to energy at the mitochondria (the powerhouse site of cells). Several nutrients can assist in the conversion of fat to energy including the amino acid methionine, which in sufficient amounts can help improve the transport and metabolism of fat. When attempting to keep our total calories down during dieting, amino acid supplements including BCAA’s and glutamine can also help to keep our food volume down but still provide support directly to the muscles, liver and our immune systems which are critical to optimising our body composition.

Amino Acids & Muscle Catabolism
Our body has the ability to breakdown our muscle tissue for use as an energy source during heavy exercise. This is part of a bodily process called gluconeogenesis which means producing or generating glucose from non-carbohydrate sources. The part of this reaction that is important to us as bodybuilders is known as the glucose – alanine cycle, in which the BCAA’s are stripped from the muscle tissue and parts of them being converted to the amino acid alanine, which is then transported to the liver and converted into glucose. If we consume supplemental BCAA’s the body does not have to breakdown our muscle tissue to gain extra energy. Studies have concluded that the use of BCAA’s (up to 4g) during and after training can result in a significant reduction of muscle breakdown during training. Catabolism of muscle can cause shrinkage of our muscles and muscle soreness and may also lead us to injury.

Amino Acids and the Anabolic effect
Resistance training generally stimulates both protein synthesis and protein degradation in exercised muscle fibres. Muscle hypertrophy (growth) occurs when an increase in protein synthesis results in the body’s normal state of protein synthesis and degradation. The normal hormonal environment (e.g, insulin and growth hormone levels) in the period following resistance training stimulates the muscle fibres anabolic processes while blunting muscle protein degradation. Dietary modifications that increase amino acid transport into muscles raise energy availability or increase anabolic hormones should augment the training effects by increasing the rate of muscle anabolism and/or decreasing muscle catabolism. Either effect should create a positive body protein balance for improved muscular growth and strength.

References:
Amino acids. Barry Finnin, PHD. and Samual Peters .
Exercise physiology. 5th Edition, William D, McArdle. Frank I Katch, Victor L Katch.

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Your 14-Step Guide to Weight Loss During Training

By Lynda Wallenfels
Your fastest self on the racecourse is light and lean. Combining “light and lean” with “strong and healthy” is the Holy Grail of optimal performance, and together work to create those peak moments you train so hard for. While under-fueling is the fastest route to over-training, over-fueling will not make you into a lean performance machine. The perfect balance takes action and attention to detail.

It’s All About the Food

For endurance athletes to lose weight, nutrition plays much more of a vital role than exercise. Athletes should be focusing their exercise habits on performance development first and foremost. Training solely to burn extra calories leads to either eating more calories or over-training by under-fueling, neither of which results in fat loss. It’s all about the food.
Fat loss takes time. Water loss can happen overnight. Your goal should be fat loss, which means patience is required. Avoid being too aggressive with your calorie deficit goals. Aim for a 300- to 500-calorie deficit per day for healthy long-term fat loss that is sustainable while base training and building fitness. Starving yourself with too few calories will make your caveman brain switch on starvation mode. This shuts down fitness development and locks down fat stores. Extreme under-fueling will sabotage your training and lead to a litany of other problems such as hormone imbalance, bone loss and immune system depression. To achieve your optimal race weight, you must stay healthy.

When Should You Ramp Up the Weight Loss?

You have more flexibility with nutrition during lower intensity off-season and base training periods. Once you have moved into your higher intensity build, peak and race periods, your fueling and recovery demands are too high to maintain a calorie deficit while building fitness. Don’t wait until eight weeks before your peak race or assume the weight will just come off while training. That only happens to a lucky few with the right genetics. The rest of us need to take action by following a detailed plan to achieve our optimal race weight.

How-to Steps For Practical Weight Loss

Follow this list of actions one by one until you reach the point where you are losing 0.25 – 1.0 pounds per week of body weight. If you are within three to five percent of your race weight it is likely you only need to follow steps 1-3.

  1. Get started now by eliminating all soda, including diet soda.
  2. Next eliminate alcohol, candy, cakes, chips, sweets and all junk food. For many athletes this step is enough to create their gradual weight loss mode.
  3. Maintain a 300- to 500-calorie deficit per day.
  4. Fuel for your training sessions before, during and after. These are not times to skimp on nutrition.
  5. Reduce your carbohydrate intake on rest and recovery days. These are the times when training glycogen depleted has little impact on your fitness progress. Eat a light, low-carbohydrate, high-protein dinner the evening before a rest day.
  6. Athletes who are already eating a whole food, nutrient dense diet need to start their weight loss journey with portion control. Even the best foods can be overeaten.
  7. Sleep eight hours per night. Sleep deprivation inhibits fat loss.
  8. Protein intake should be maintained at normal levels despite a lower overall daily calorie intake. This means increasing the proportion of protein in your daily diet up to 25 to 30 percent of daily calorie intake. Focus on lean protein sources such as meat, fish, seafood and eggs. Dairy is a controversial component of a weight loss plan. Some athletes benefit from dairy and others do not digest it well. Use your own experience to decide if dairy is a healthy part of your diet. Maintaining protein intake will maintain your lean body mass and focus weight loss on fat loss.
  9. Load up on vegetables by filling half of your plate with veggies at most meals. Fruits are a healthy component of any weight loss plan, but should be eaten in moderation.
  10. Utilize nutrient-timing techniques. Instead of a recovery drink after training, time your training session to end at meal time and eat one of your daily meals for recovery. This can eliminate 250 to 400 calories from your daily intake without any drawbacks.
  11. Limit grazing and focus on meals. Avoid snacking while watching TV, working or surfing the internet.
  12. Fast overnight. No food after 8 p.m.
  13. Don’t cheat. Cheat days and cheat meals will knock you off your weight loss trajectory.
  14. Identify times you pack in unneeded calories as a habit and create a strategy to change it. For example, almond butter is my weakness. I really like watching TV with a jar of almond butter in one hand and a fork in the other. This quickly leads to 500 calories down the hatch. Willpower or putting a sticky note on the lid telling myself not to binge is ineffective. Not having it in my pantry in the first place is my best strategy. Be your own support system and set yourself up to avoid your own pitfalls.

If You Measure It, You Can Change It

Use a food diary app (or good old-fashioned pen and paper) to measure your calorie intake for three days. Learn the nutrient profile of foods you are eating to make accurate dietary decisions.
Track your body weight or body fat percentage in TrainingPeaks and graph it out over time using their dashboard tool. Seeing your milestones and goals achieved on a chart is motivating.
dashboard-weight-loss

Additional Tricks and Tips to Stay on Target

Join a challenge for social support and motivation. Groups often get together for a nutrition or weight loss challenge such as The Whole-30. Sharing goals, recipes and excitement with friends can make staying on plan fun.
Read up while losing weight to keep your mind focused and brain waves full of information leading you down the right path to your goal.
Set realistic goals and provide rewards for yourself. These can be tangible, such as a blingy bike part or intangible, such as dropping your threshold mile pace by 10 seconds.
Throw out all junk food from your fridge and pantry. If you don’t have easy access to your trigger foods, they don’t go in your mouth.
Use smaller plates to help with portion control.
Add a glycogen-depleted training session. Once or twice per week do a steady 30 to 60-min aerobic training session in heart rate zone 2 or power level 2 in a fasted state first thing in the morning. Refuel with breakfast immediately after. Training in a glycogen depleted state will enhance fat burning and boost your fat loss.
There is no doubt getting down to race weight is challenging and requires sacrifice. Embrace the hard work and earn your rewards. It will put you in the position to have the best races of your life.
Lynda has been coaching off-road athletes for 16 years and racing professionally for 18 years.

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Why Am I So Hungry All the Time?

Why am I so hungry all the time? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Sometimes it’s real hunger and we need to eat but other times we are ravenous just 30 minutes after eating! What’s up? Today we’re taking a look at hunger, what causes it and what we can do to manage it.
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WHY AM I SO HUNGRY ALL THE TIME?
It’s crazy, right? You just ate a huge meal and an hour later, you’re starving. What gives? Why am I so hungry all the time?! You might feel like you’re always hungry, or maybe you’re not hungry at all until you eat, and then you’re ravenous, or maybe y0u just ate a huge meal, feeling totally stuffed, only to be hungry again shortly after. Your hunger is always there and often in charge of your whole day.
FIRST OF ALL, YOUR HUNGER ISN’T IN CHARGE
I’ve been there, guys. My hunger used to be in charge, big time. The slightest sensation of hunger and I was in a panic that I needed to eat and I needed to eat now. I’ve since accepted that my hunger is not an emergency. Hunger isn’t in control and you have the power to decide how to respond to it.
AM I REALLY HUNGRY?
If you’re reading this, chances are you aren’t starving. We are lucky enough to live in a part of the world where we have access to as much quality food as we need. Your body will be just fine if you don’t feed it at it’s beckon call.
I’m not saying don’t listen to your body. Often, we’re legitimately hungry and it’s time to re-fuel. However, sometimes what we’re experiencing isn’t true hunger. If we can develop a better understanding of hunger and use our common sense, we can determine if we’re truly hungry and need to eat.
Our bodies are highly intelligent and complex but they don’t always know exactly what’s best for us, so next time you find yourself “starving” when you recently ate a meal, it’s time to look a little further. In addition to feeling hungry, sometimes our brains come in with an appetite and ask for things we really don’t need. Say hello to cravings!
It can be challenging to make quality food choices if you’re always hungry. You arrive home from work ravenous and it’s tempting to grab the first thing you see rather than preparing a healthy meal. You ate a sugary breakfast that left your stomach asking for more just 30 minutes later so you decide to hit the vending machine. Feel too hungry, too often and it’s almost impossible to consistently make good food choices.
If you’re constantly battling hunger, eating quality food in the right amounts becomes difficult to maintain, so we end up making poor choices and so continues the cycle.
What might be missing in your diet and what aspects of your lifestyle could be improved to help manage hunger?
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WHAT CONTROLS HUNGER
Hunger is primarily controlled by hormones and hormones are affected by the what and how much we eat. There are a number of key hormones that affect hunger. Leptin and ghrelin are considered to be the “hunger hormones” but serotonin, dopamine, neuropeptides and glucagon also play a role.
Understanding how ghrelin and leptin work can help us get hunger under control and reduce the frequency and intensity of hunger sensations. Today, we’re just going to look at ghrelin because it’s the bad boy responsible for making you feel so damn hungry all the time.
WHAT IS GHRELIN?
First of all, I think ghrelin is an appropriate name for this hunger hormone, don’t you think? It reminds me of gremlin, or some pesky, little monster that lives in our bellies, always freakin’ hungry and demanding that we feed it. Rawr!
Ghrelin is secreted by the stomach and is responsible for causing feelings of hunger, hanger and “I might die and/or kill someone if I don’t eat.” Ghrelin also encourages the body to store fat, particularly around the liver and abdominal area. Just what we’re looking for, right?
Luckily, we can tame hunger by controlling ghrelin levels though food and lifestyle choices. Ghrelin is affected not only by what we eat but by everything from stress to sleep, so approaching nutrition from a total wellness perspective can go a long way.
AGAIN, WHY AM I SO HUNGRY ALL THE TIME?!?
We know that ghrelin is responsible for causing us to feel hungry and that ghrelin levels are affected by our food and lifestyle choices. What is it exactly that we’re doing and eating that’s affecting ghrelin? Let’s look at how we can manage ghrelin, then look at what else can increase hunger.
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5 WAYS TO CONTROL GHRELIN LEVELS

  1. Avoid very low calorie diets.Heavily restricting calories (we’re talking 1000 calories per day or less) increases ghrelin production and abdominal fat storage. Your body is like, hey I’m starving over here! I’m gonna store every little bit of food I get, just in case I need it. This doesn’t mean you can’t reduce body fat though a slow and steady calorie deficit but extreme restriction of calories is dangerous for both your physical and your mental health.
  2. Eat fibre and high-volume foods.When the walls of the stomach experience stretching or pressure from high-volume, fibrous foods, ghrelin production is suppressed. Keeping the belly full of high-volume foods can go along way in managing hunger. I find including a few servings of vegetables at breakfast really helps keep me full throughout the morning.
  1. Eat more omega-3s. You can use an omega-3 supplementwith EPA and DPA and/or include plenty of foods in your diet that contain them. When we don’t get enough EPA and DHA, it can increase ghrelin production and thereby fat storage around the abdominal area. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids has also been shown to boost leptin and reduce inflammation in the body.
  2. Support healthy digestion.A healthy gut can help control hunger and body weight. To promote healthy digestion, enjoy fermented foods and beverages, digestion-supporting foods, spices an d herbs and consider a probiotic supplement.
  3. Eat less fructose.Fructose raises ghrelin levels and suppresses hormones that trigger fullness. This doesn’t mean you can’t eat fruit but you try to avoid processed foods which typically have a high amount of fructose in them, often in the form of high-fructose corn syrup. There’s nothing good in there. Eat real food.

Ghrelin is also affected by stress, exercise and sleep, so always remember that total wellness is key!
Okay, we looked at how we can control ghrelin production but what else has an effect on hunger? Well, there’s one huge factor that not only causes hunger but neglecting to manage it can have a number of negative impacts on the body. Did you guess what it is? Yep, blood sugar!
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HOW BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS EFFECT HUNGER
Maintaining stable blood sugar is one of the most important jobs the body does for us and we don’t always make it an easy one. We sometimes overeat or eat too much sugar, creating spikes in blood sugar that our body has to scramble to correct. This is tough on the body and is at the root of diabetes, obesity and a number of other health concerns.
BLOOD SUGAR PEAKS AND VALLEYS
Hunger is triggered by low blood sugar and this triggering can happen whether you actually need re-fuel or not. If our blood sugar gets too low, our energy levels drop and we experience hunger sensations. Alternatively, high blood sugar can be toxic and dangerous for the body. Big spikes in blood sugar cause big crashes in blood sugar, which causes hunger, leading to overeating and poor food choices. Maintaining stable blood sugar through a healthy diet can go along way in reducing hunger.
WHAT CAUSES SPIKES IN BLOOD SUGAR
Well, it’s pretty simple. Eat foods primarily made up of sugar and you’ll experience a spike in blood sugar and consequent crash. High blood sugar can also be caused by overeating. When we overeat, our bodies go into overdrive to deal with an abundance of sugar.
As the body deploys insulin and quickly compensates to bring blood sugar levels back down, we experience low blood sugar shortly after eating. That’s your body sending you a message that you need to bring your blood sugar levels back up ie. hey, I’m hungry, feed me!
When we experience this kind of hunger it’s pretty clear we don’t need to eat again.We just ate. Don’t add fuel to the fire. Let your body deal with the effects of overeating before you give it more to handle.
HOW TO PROMOTE STABLE BLOOD SUGAR
There are plenty of ways we can assist the body in maintaining stable blood sugar. Blood sugar levels are always going to go up and down but the key is preventing big peaks and valleys. Eat a bunch of sugar on an empty stomach, spike your blood sugar, the body compensates, crashing blood sugar levels, the body sends you a hunger message, you eat again, the cycle continues.
You don’t need to immediately react to that hunger!
Ideally, we’d prevent these blood sugar spikes in the first place. Lets look at a few ways we can help promote stable blood sugar levels.
10 WAYS TO BALANCE BLOOD SUGAR

  1. Include healthy fats at every meal.Fats have the lowest impact on blood sugar levels and help increase satiety by slowing down the absorption of glucose into the blood stream. Get those avocados and nuts into your diet!
  2. Eat enough protein. Compared to carbohydrates, protein is digested more slowly and when it’s consumed on it’s own, doesn’t create the spike in blood sugar that carbs do. Remember, low-sugar protein powder and bars are okay to help supplement protein but it’s important to include whole food protein sources in your diet.
  3. Eat a balance macronutrients at each meal to help slow down the digestive process. Carbohydrates are essential and typically make up somewhere between 40 and 60% of a healthy diet. The key is to include a balance of carbohydrates, fats and protein with every meal to help slow down their digestion and keep you full. That being said, sometimes we want quick digesting carbohydrates, for example, when we’re weightlifting or performing high-intensity exercise but we’ll look at that another day!
  4. Eat more non-starchy vegetables.These high-volume, fibrous veggies are digested more slowly than starchy vegetables and have a low impact on blood sugar.
  5. Avoid alcohol. Alcohol can cause an immediate rise in blood sugar and then a large drop a few hours later. If you do consume alcohol, do so in moderation and with some food in your stomach.
  6. Include fibre with every meal.Similarly to fat and protein, fiber can help to promote satiety and help slow digestion, preventing spikes in blood sugar. Fiber also provides a range of other health benefits and is a very important part of a healthy diet.
  7. Excercise. Exercising on a consistent basis lowers your blood glucose and helps keep blood sugar levels stable.
  8. Start the day with a balanced, higher protein meal.Even though I love oatmeal and smoothies at breakfast, it’s important to include a balance of fats and protein. A good choice for vegans and vegetarians is a non-starchy vegetable scramble with tempeh or quinoa porridge with nuts and hemp seeds.
  9. Don’t skip meals. Eat balanced meals and snacks every 3-4 hours or so to help keep blood sugar stable and prevent overeating.
  10. Eat ceylon, or true cinnamon.True cinnamon has been shown to help balance blood sugar levels. Try mixing it into tea or coffee, using it in baking and other recipes, sprinkling it on hot and cold cereal and even using it to spice curries. There are a number of benefits to including ceylon over regular cinnamon in your diet, so while it’s a bit of a splurge, if you can get your hands on some, I think it’s worth it.

LIFESTYLE CHOICES AFFECTING HUNGER AND BLOOD SUGAR
Stress, exercise, dehydration and sleep all play a roll in hunger.
STRESS MANAGEMENT
Not managing our stress levels can cause cortisol levels to remain high in the body, effectively increasing our appetite. We’ve all been there. Stress eating, emotional eating, whatever you want to call it. High stress levels can effect our appetite, which is psychological drive that causes us to crave particular foods, not to be mixed up with real hunger. Mindful eating and bringing awareness to times you overeat can distinguish between appetite and true hunger. A food journal is often helpful in this case!
EXERCISE, HYDRATION AND SLEEP
As for exercise, daily movement promotes a healthy metabolism, proper digestion, helps to manage stress and of course, has wide range of other health benefits. Do it. Every day!
Dehydration is huge too, and you’ve probably heard it 100 times. Drink more water! As for sleeping, a lack of quality sleep may have a direct effect on how hungry we feel. Sleep duration has been found to reduce levels of leptin, an appetite suppressing hormone and increase levels of ghrelin, stimulating hunger. Not only that, a lack of quality sleep effects mood, recovery, memory, blood sugar and energy levels. I’ll be talking about my routine for a great nights sleep in an upcoming post. Don’t miss it!
NOW WHAT?
Alright! That was really fun to chat about. We talked all about ghrelin, how to manage it to control hunger and what we can do to promote stable blood sugar. Where to go from here….
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
When it comes to nutrition and fat loss, knowledge is power. Arm yourself with the tools you need to succeed. Read, listen to podcasts, surround yourself with people who share similar goals and that you can learn from. The more we understand about our bodies and how powerful the food we eat is, the easier it becomes to consistently make quality food choices. That chocolate chip muffin might not be as appealing when you know it will cause a spike in blood sugar, causing you to crash and leaving you feeling hungry shortly after eating it, creating an endless cycle.
WHERE TO START
If that all seems overwhelming to you, don’t worry about it! Pick one thing to focus on. Maybe you start by including one omega-3 rich food in your diet every day. Or maybe instead of a whole chocolate chip muffin, you eat half along side a big tofu and vegetable scramble. Maybe you focus on getting to bed an hour earlier this week.
Improvement over perfection, guys. It’s a lifelong journey and it isn’t a linear one! These aren’t the rules and they certainly aren’t set in stone. Sometimes we’re going to eat the damn (vegan) doughnut. These are simply some steps you can take to help get a hold of your hunger. One step of a time, you don’t have to do all these things at once. Perfection only sets us up for failure.  Consistency and steady improvement are the golden ticket.
It’s never to late to educate yourself, improve your diet and keep striving towards your best self. When we feel good, feel comfortable in our skin and have plenty of energy, everything in life gets easier, so keep after it, guys!
Strive to be the best version of yourself, at any given time, with what you have.

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5 Things to know about weight-loss

tofattorun
There’s so much information/misinformation about losing weight. Here are the things nobody told me; the things that I wish I’d known when I started losing…
Throw Away Your Scale
No, seriously. Throw it away. For me (and I think for many people), the scale was just a way to torture myself and continue my cycle of treating myself poorly. Gain a Kg? I thought I was awful and should just stop eating at all. Lose a Kg? I’m great and should celebrate by eating a pizza. The natural up-down fluctuation of our body weight shouldn’t drive us crazy, but it can and for a lot of us, it will.
Still want to use the scale as a tool and not a crazymaker? Use a scale at the gym, or that one at the supermarket. Just don’t keep one in your house. It can be very addictive and it’s frankly a bad way to rate your progress. I can fluctuate up to 2 kgs in a given day due to water/food, glycogen retention and a lot of other issues. Weigh yourself at the same time of day in the same clothes, no more than once a week. Buy a tape measure and measure every two weeks. (Taking pictures once a month is something I really wish I’d done!) Rejoice when your pants fall down …  and, throw away your scale.
Fitness is a three-pronged approach.
You need to do cardio, weight training and flexibility training. Just do cardio and you’re on your way to skinny-fat. I see plenty of women who just do cardio and they look alright in street clothes, but when they come into the spin room, they’re just as jiggly as someone who could stand to lose a few. Just do weights and don’t incorporate flexibility training and you’re on the way to bunchy town: short, tight muscles that don’t feel or look good. Just do flexibility training and you won’t burn many calories. I do cardio, yoga and weights. This also goes a long way in preventing workout burnout. I shudder at the mere thought of just doing an hour on the treadmill every day. Boring. Mix it up. Your body and your sanity will be better for it.
What you eat is really, really important.
Remember, you cannot out exercise a bad diet … ever!
You can lose weight eating packaged, processed food with little nutritional value. But, yuck. You’ll be hungry. The portions won’t be large, the nutrients will be lacking and you’ll feel deprived.  Most nights for dinner, I have an enormous salad. Ten cups of greens, a homemade dressing with olive oil and lemon juice (or balsamic) and sometimes I throw in some chicken or seafood, or nuts or a bit of white goats’ cheese. I struggle to get that enormous bowl up to 450 calories. It’s huge.
Moral of this story? Eat your vegetables, eat your lean protein sources (and occasionally not so lean—good fats in moderation are a good thing). Eat a handful of nuts. A teeny-tiny ounce of nuts takes the edge off your hunger for hours. Remember, moderation – a handful only because just 28g of nuts is nearly 200 calories. But, nuts have it all going for them: They’re portable and they keep you full. Keeping those nuts handy will save you from many a low-blood sugar induced eating frenzy.
Calories equal energy. That’s its definition. Choose calories that are full of energy and nutrients, not full of chemicals and rubbish. Anything that’s marketed as “good for you” (I’m talking to you, 100-calorie packs) most likely isn’t. If it needs marketing (when was the last time you saw a TV commercial for an apple?), it needs to be sold. Don’t believe me? Just Google around and find some cigarette ads from the 1940s, when those were marketed as healthy and natural. The 100-calorie pack is the low-tar cigarette of our generation. Be smarter than the food industry. Eat foods with one ingredient. That’s my best diet/health advice in one sentence.
The diet and fast food industry want you to stay fat.
Any “get-thin quick” scheme is just that. They want you to “get results” and then pack the pounds back on and come back because “it worked so great the last time.” Any diet that you can’t be on the rest of your life is a bad one. You can’t repent for a month and suddenly never gain weight again.
Any industry depends on repeat business to keep afloat. The diet industry is no different. If diets worked, everyone would go on one, lose weight and keep it off and never have to shell out any money ever again. The same holds true for the processed/fast-food/chain-restaurant food industry. They want you addicted to their food, craving more and coming back. They don’t care that what they’re selling can make you fat and kill you. They just want your money.
Now, I’m not perfect. From time to time, I indulge in junk food. But it’s rare and it’s an indulgence. I hardly ever want it anymore, though, because it makes me feel awful. I can’t believe sometimes that it used to be the cornerstone of my diet.
You will go into mourning for the old you.
I’ve saved this for last because it was the most shocking to me. I lost 25 kgs, became a fit and healthy person and then got really, really depressed and didn’t know why. On some level, I finally realized, I missed my old life. I missed going out and not caring what I put into my body (it was fun at the moment). I missed feeling bad about something and knowing that as soon as I got that ice cream home it would all go away. I missed being invisible once I started getting more attention (especially from the opposite sex).
After I lost the weight, my life as I knew it was over. I got divorced from food as a coping mechanism. Food was, for a period in my life, my best friend. I had to mourn that loss. I had to spend time figuring out who this new person, who would rather go for a walk than for pizza, was. I lost friends in the process (I made new ones after a while). I had to re-learn how to cope with emotions. I had to learn that it was okay to cry rather than eat. I had to learn that it was alright to say I was upset about something out loud, using words rather than food. I had to learn that it was perfectly well and good to stand up for myself rather than eat. I had to learn how to do a lot of things rather than eat. If your change is true and lifelong, you will most likely go through this process, too.
Accept it as part of the journey you’re taking.

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The 5 Worst Pieces of Weight Management Advice

5WorstWeight
It all sounds so good, the endless promises and guarantees that by just following a miracle diet you’ll lose weight fast, keep it off—and get that bikini body, instantly.  You’ve heard it all before and seen many fad diets come and go, but one thing is certain, the fads never last .. and the weight never stays off.
 
“Whatever you do, just don’t eat this.”
Whenever a diet asks you to cut out a major macronutrient (that your body needs to function properly!), you know it’s not going to end pretty. Quick refresher: macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins and fats, all of which are essential for your body to function at its best. Carbohydrates are what your body uses as energy for your daily activities. Fats— good fats of course—are essential for many different functions in your body and proteins are the building blocks for muscle and you need it to help your body repair and rebuild tissue daily.
While fat-free or no-carb diets may be beneficial to individuals with certain health concerns, if it’s weight loss you’re after, you might want to try an approach more sustainable that’s going to give you the energy and strength to take your full life head-on, day after day, not deplete it. Eating a well-balanced diet including all your good quality macronutrients is a great start for successful weight management.
 
“I found the magic pill.”
It hurts to hear, but there’s no one little pill you can take to make the weight magically melt off your body for the rest of your life.
Anyone who promises their magic pill (or bean) will dissolve the fat right of off you overnight, is selling lies and making a lucrative profit off of your personal goals— which they have no ability or interest in helping you achieve.
Let’s be real: long-term weight management is all about moderation and eating a healthy diet, rich in nutrients. In other words, real food that will give you the energy you’ll need to live an active life. Exercise and a healthy diet go hand-in-hand when it comes to weight management.
 
“You’ll lose 10 pounds in 10 days!”
Doesn’t this sound fantastic?! While you might be able to achieve this, by fasting or drastically cutting calories, this is not sustainable and chances are as soon as you go back to your normal diet, the weight will find its way back to your waistline and butt.
Long-term sustainable weight management will happen when you develop a routine and slowly start to crowd the “not so good stuff” out by adding in more good-for-you foods. Keep in mind: this won’t happen overnight—this small-changes approach is one that can last a lifetime. Remember, the weight didn’t arrive overnight and will certainly not disappear overnight – no matter what you’re told. Consistently eating real food in the correct portions, is the only way the weight will come off – and stay off.
 
“Count every calorie/macro”
Not all calories are created equal and when it comes to being ultimately healthy from the inside out, you want to ensure you’re providing your body with foods that are a great source of micro-nutrients—not just the right amount of calories.
For example, say a bag of potato chips has the exact same amount of calories as a slice of whole grain bread with some avocado sliced on top, seasoned artfully with fresh dill and lemon juice. Which one of these is going to serve your body better? You’re going to eat that bag of potato chips, or eat avocado toast (that has whole grains, B vitamins and good fats). There are certainly some days that enjoying potato chips may be what you need. Most days you may decide to reach for the avocado toast.
For long-term weight management, look at the nutrients a piece of food contains before the calories. Guess what? Many plant-based foods are naturally nutrient dense. Let’s hear it for nutrient dense fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds!
 
“It doesn’t matter what you eat as long as you follow this workout routine”
Don’t get me wrong, movement is definitely part of a healthy routine. But just because you went for a run in the morning or hit the gym, doesn’t mean you get a free-pass to eat whatever you want later on. There is a saying “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet”. Just like getting a workout in at sunrise doesn’t mean your body needs a whole cheesecake for a dessert, it also doesn’t mean that you need to track every calorie you burned in a spreadsheet.
If you did a sweaty workout at the gym or in a group exercise class you’re going to want to supply your body with the right building blocks to replenish energy, repair and rebuild. What could help you achieve your goals while keeping you feeling good about your choices? Try whipping up a high-protein smoothie post-workout. Using your favourite Hemptons or Reclaim protein product, toss in some of your favourite fruits and veggies and you have yourself a recipe for both exercise and healthy eating.
What I’ve learned along the way is that no single diet is going to work for everybody. It’s all about taking it back to the basics and finding out what works for you. Focus on adding more plants, eating mindfully, moving more and finding the right balance you need.
Good advice to start with – start eating more real foods like vegetables, fruits etc. as opposed to processed “man made” foods like breads, crisps, cakes, sugars, fizzy drinks and your body will thank you by becoming healthier and leaner.
If you’re struggling with your weight, or don’t know where to start, talk to your health care practitioner or registered dietitian to help created a customized health plan for you.

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Stop Binge Eating

WOMDIf you can’t stop binging, then the first thing you need to stop doing is dieting. Diets do not work. Just to clarify, when you go on a diet, your intention is to eat a certain way for a temporary period of time, usually until you reach your weight goals. This sort of thinking will cause you to fail. What you want to do instead is to see the change in your eating habits as a change in lifestyle. You need to see this as a long term, life long thing and not some 6 week program.
The problem with trying to lose weight is that there is so much advertisement out there promising that you can get the perfect body in 30 days. This is one of the main reasons why so many people are still overweight. They have that “get results quick” mentality. It’s like people who think they can get rich in 30 days. In the end, you just end up losing your time, money, and confidence. This will only cause you to eat even more. If you want to stop over eating, you need to develop a different mindset. Be in it for the long run. Here are some more ways to overcome this. Keep in mind that if you have a severe binge eating disorder, you may want to get some professional help. This only accounts for a small percentage of people though.
How to Stop Binge Eating
1. Don’t starve yourself
Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of food. You can even eat the “bad” foods but you have to consume them in moderation. Everything is about moderation. The good news is that once you start to eat healthier and start cutting sugar out of your diet, you will start losing the craving for sweets. In other words, it gets easy as time goes by.
2. Get support
Sometimes it’s hard to stop if you are doing this all alone. So what you can do is to ask some friends or family members to help remind you. A lot of times, we eat more than we want to just out of habit. So ask people around you to remind you of your fitness goals when they catch you binge eating. Make sure that when you do, you thank them and listen. Don’t get mad or agitated or they will just let you overeat the next time they catch you.
3. Limit your access to food
It’s hard to eat a lot when you don’t have food to eat. Throw out all of the bad food and replace them with the good stuff. By doing this, you will hopefully be able to stop over eating due to the fact that it will be too much of a hassle to actually go to the store and buy junk food.
These tips are just a few things you can do. There are lots of other ways as well. The important thing to remember is that you need to have the right mindset going into this thing. Realise the majority of people who try to lose weight and get fit fail. Understand that this isn’t a walk in the park.
In other words, bring your A game. Don’t wimp out. Go full force.

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Essential Fatty Acids Are Vital for Muscle Growth and Fat Loss

What are Essential Fatty acids and are they really essential? Why bodybuilders need EFAs to maximize muscle and assist with fat loss.
FitBodsYou are selling your results short by not giving your body all the nutrients it needs. I am talking specifically about the nutrients that are “essential” to the body. Essential nutrients are nutrients that the body cannot make and therefore must be obtained through the diet. Concerning the macronutrients, there are two groups of essential nutrients, Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) And Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs).
Getting adequate protein in your diet each and every day is heavily stressed in the fitness community, but what is not stressed is getting in adequate Essential Fatty Acids each day. Why would you focus on only getting one of the two essential nutrients? Both EAAs (in the form of protein) and EFAs MUST be obtained from your diet. To get the best results possible you must focus on getting enough of both protein and essential fats.
There are two fatty acids that are essential to the body, the Omega-3 Fatty Acid Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) and the Omega-6 Fatty Acid Linoleic Acid (LA). ALA and LA are readily available in food, but to obtain their full benefits they must be converted into their long-chain metabolites, ALA to Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and LA to Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA).  Getting adequate healthy fats in your diet is the first step to getting these EFAs.
The conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA as well as the conversion of LA to GLA is limited, so even if you get some ALA and LA in your diet you may not be getting enough EPA, DHA, or GLA. Adding fat sources that contain EPA and DHA and GLA (think Hemp Seed Oil) is the second step and ideal to ensure you get these essential fatty acid metabolites.
If you are deficient in EAAs, protein synthesis cannot proceed at its full rate due to lacking the needed building blocks (Amino Acids) to build muscle tissue. The same holds true for the EFAs. Being deficient in EFAs and their metabolites will decrease protein synthesis and muscle repair due to lacking the needed materials. An EFA deficiency may also cause your body to try to “hold on to” your body fat because it senses it does not have all the materials/nutrients it needs. So if you do not have enough EFAs then you are not gaining muscle and progressing at the rate you could and your fat loss can become impeded.
EPA and DHA have been shown:

  • Decrease protein breakdown
  • Decrease body fat mass
  • Increase amino acid uptake
  • Improve cardiovascular health
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Increase insulin sensitivity
  • Decrease inflammation
  • Improve joint health
  • Necessary for proper functioning of the brain
  • Repair damaged cell membranes
  • Provide building blocks for Eicosanoids (signaling molecules) and growth factors
  • Increase cell membrane permeability (ability to transport nutrients in and out of cells)

GLA has been shown to:

  • Decrease fat regain after a diet
  • Decrease inflammation
  • Improve nerve functioning
  • Increase calcium absorption leading to stronger bones
  • Improve skin health
  • Decrease joint pain and swelling
  • Improve blood pressure
  • Assist in weight management
  • Decreases PMS (A GLA deficiency may be responsible for some PMS symptoms)
  • Boosts immune system

We see that EPA, DHA and GLA are vital for muscle growth and fat loss. To get in sufficient EFAs – and in a balanced 3:1 ratio, take Hemp Seed Oil – either in raw Oil or Capsules.

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Boost, Reduce, Support with Hemp!

Energy  Metabolism Booster: Hemp is the highest vegan source of Edestin, a simple protein that is responsible for us keeping healthy. All of our hemp products are raw, containing live enzymes that help you digest your food, increase your energy, boost your immunity and help your body function at its best.

Detoxifies The Body & Reduces Junk Food Cravings: Hemp is high in the natural antioxidants Vitamin E, Vitamin C and chlorophyll.  

wade-poseBurns Fat & Supports Lean Mass: Hemp is recognized by the World Health Organization as having a perfect 3:1 balance of Omega 6 to Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids for optimum health. These fats stimulate the body’s natural thermogenic system which actually burns fat. The Essential Fatty Acids in Hemp also help muscle recovery and growth. Hemp also contains both GLA and CLA and studies have proved that both help in reducing body fat and balancing blood sugar.

Easy To Digest & Non-Allergenic: Hemp does not contain gluten and is free of the enzyme inhibitors found in soy and other legumes and grains which prevent protein absorption and typically cause gas, bloating and other digestion problems. In addition, there are no known allergies to hemp.

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4 Fats that burn fat or help you lose weight…

1.       Omega-3 fats
Omega-3 fats help you burn fat by helping your body respond better to a hormone called Leptin (Leptin is the Greek word for thin) and…
Leptin tells your body (your brain) to suppress your appetite making you eat less so you can maintain or lose weight and…
Leptin increases your metabolism by increasing your thyroid output (your thyroid regulates your metabolism) and on top of all that…
Leptin also causes your body to burn fat for energy so…
If your body isn’t responding well to Leptin then the reverse happens – You’ll be hungrier, and you’ll store more fat so… You can take Omega-3 fats to help your body respond much better to Leptin so you can increase your fat-burning metabolism and…
3 more ways Omega-3 fats help you lose weight is…

  1. Omega-3 fats help you control your hunger by stabilizing your blood sugar levels and…
  2. An Australian study showed that when people took Omega-3 fats while on an exercise program burned more fat than people who Only Exercised (without taking Omega-3 fats) and people who exercised & took other types of fat and…
  3. Studies done in Japan & The Czech republic suggest that Omega-3 fats prevent the creation of ugly body fat and these same studies suggested Omega-3 fats promote more fat burning.

2.       CLA
How CLA can help you lose weight…
CLA is good for helping you get rid of belly fat and According to The International Journal of Obesity (August, 2001)…

  • A group of overweight men taking CLA lost mostly belly fat and they reduced their waistlines by 1 inch while taking CLA and the CLA helped them lose all that belly fat without making any diet or lifestyle changes and…
  • In a similar study women lost mostly only belly & thigh fat with CLA and they reduced their waistlines by1.2 inches and…
  • CLA also helps you burn fat and gain leaner muscles at the same time
  • A group of overweight people lost 9% of their body fat and increased their lean muscle mass by 1-to-2% just by taking CLA with NO changes in their diet or lifestyle – this all happened during a year-long research study done by the Scandinavian Clinical Research Group
  • CLA prevents your body from storing fat
    • CLA doesn’t make a big fat cell get little. What it rather does is keep a little fat cell from getting big.” – Michael Pariza, director of the Food Research Institute, on his findings from the University of Wisconsin Study at Madison on CLA.

A University of Wisconsin Study at Madison concluded that CLA is good for preventing weight gain in people who had previously lost weight dieting and even if dieters gained weight after dieting while still taking CLA – half of the weight gained back was lean muscle (and you know muscle burns fat anyway)
3.       Omega-6 Fats
Many studies show how the Omega-6 fats Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) & Linolenic acid (LA) help you burn fat – for example with GLA…

  • People lost between 9-to-11 pounds in 6 weeks while taking GLA during a study done by Dr Mri who’s a researcher and consultant at the Welsh National School of Medicine in Cardiff but…

The good & bad news about most studies involving GLA is you have to be at least 10-to-20% overweight to see any results but…

  • GLA prevents weight gain in people who’ve lost weight plus GLA is also an appetite suppressant since it raises the levels of serotonin (and serotonin is a hormone that makes you feel full and eat less) and…
  • GLA raises your metabolism by making the “Brown fat” in your body burn calories to keep your body warm and… Brown fat (or Brown Adipose tissue or BAT) is not the same as the ugly “white” fat that accumulates on your arms, belly, thighs and other problem areas because…
  • Brown fat’s main job is to burn fat calories for energy to keep your body warm but usually brown fat is not as active in overweight people and that’s why You need GLA so you can “turn on” Brown fat so it can help you burn off the ugly “white” fat and…

As for the other Omega-6 fat Linolenic acid (LA)…
Women lost 2-to-4 pounds of fat and gained firmer muscles just by supplementing with Linolenic acid (LA) without any significant changes to their diet & exercise programs over a 16 week study and…
GLA & LA can be found in Borage Oil, Evening Primrose Oil and these 28 foods high in Omega-6 fats and please note that…
CLA is also an Omega-6 fat but, you need to eat a balanced ratio of Omega-3 & Omega-6 fats.

  • 4.       MCTs (medium chain triglycerides)

MCTs will increase your metabolism, your body is more likely to use MCTs for energy instead of storing it as fat and MCTs help curb your appetite and because of these facts .. farmers will not feed their animals foods high in MCTs like coconut oil because it will keep their animals very lean and…

  • A group of 31 overweight people lost an average of 7 lbs. during a 16 week study when they included MCT oil in their muffins and in another 12 week study .. 2 groups of people were put on almost the same exact diet but the only difference was .. one group got it’s fat mainly from regular dietary fat while the other group got it’s fat only from MCTs and .. the group taking MCTs lost 8½ lbs. (2½ lbs. more than the other group) and the combined results of many studies on MCTs all conclude that you can lose up to 12-to-36 pounds a year just by replacing the regular fat in your diet with MCTs and Coconut Oil & Palm Oil are all good sources of MCTs or you can use a MCT supplement

How to include these fats in your diet to lose weight faster?
Remember: Fats must only be 10 to 30% of your diet if you’re trying to lose weight or build muscle and you want to make sure that most of or ALL the fats you eat are Omega-3, CLA, Omega-6 and/or MCT fats if you want to burn fat faster and you can easily get most of those fats by eating more lean proteins like fish, organic beef, nuts & beans but if you find you can’t get enough of these healthy fats in your diet you can take Omega-3, CLA, Omega-6 and/or MCT supplements.
Now for the most amazing news .. Hemp contains Omega 3, Omega 6 – CLA & GLA as well as medium chain triglycerides.
So, by incorporating Hemp into your diet – and here I mean healthy, balanced diet – you will lose weight, naturally, easily!