Tuesday 25 February 2014

Shedding a bit of extra weight the easy way (Part 2)

You'll remember those pictures from last weeks eNewsletter, where I talked about the simplified theory of getting either a flat stomach or definition in the stomach! Similar applies to the rest of the body too to be honest. A lot of feedback from last week thanks, I'll be bearing questions in mind for future topics! 

Last week I talked about how the body fat levels (low body fat think thin sheet, higher body fat think thick blanket) affect the definition of the body (by definition I mean visible lines or shapes of the muscles - often what people mean when they say 'toned')  

Beyond aesthetics lower body fat levels mean less excess weight and so for activities like running it becomes easier, muscles don't have to work as hard to help you run at the same speed or you can run faster for the same amount of effort. Sounds great right!? 

I mentioned correct training will help to shape the muscles and ensure the body is strong and has the stamina it needs, I'm not focusing on that though today, we're talking about nutrition! So how to get that thin blue sheet?

Above there are 2 pictures... the first a typical days food for myself (excluding a bit of extra veg I'd add to some of the meals, and my Dinner which I might have Salmon and green veggies, asparagus and broccoli with some soy sauce perhaps  and to the right.. this is what a typical grocery shopping trip looks like. 

I might add some cottage cheese and milk to that along with some fish and perhaps a few nuts. I probably eat out once or twice per week on average too, sticking with similar principles. Other than that daily Omega 3 fish oil and sometimes protein powder. I do vary my food intake depending on my training but lets keep it simple for now. Your food intake will vary depending on your weight, activity levels, muscle mass, body fat levels and a few other things (bare in mind that is the intake for an ultra runner who trains daily and is active all day)

Essentially we're looking at lean protein source (meat, fish, eggs) and a variety of veggies for each meal. The odd bit of fruit too but veggies are where it's at! The body will perform best when it has a range of vitamins and nutrients to work with, eating is a constant thing we do all our lives. All we need is right there. The body doesn't need huge doses of sugar and fat! 

Ever heard someone say 'you are what you eat?' guess what!? It's true! Every part of you has been made up from food.... broken down in the body to it's components and used to rebuild cells in your body. 

Eating this way will ensure balanced energy levels, nature is pretty good at watching our backs when it comes to food. 

To really make a change, consistency is key. Having the occasional 'good week' wont make a lot of difference to anything, making good choices most of the time will!  

Is your every day diet up to scratch? Or... to rephrase that are you in the shape you want to be in? Have you always got plenty of energy? If not.... nutrition is probably the first place you should make changes

My 3 top tips for optimum nutrition.....
1. Plan ahead... prepare your food and take it with you, you'll never need to grab something on the go that could mess your day up! One of the best time saving tips I have is to cook meals in bulk, the alternative can be bad news if you're always out and about grabbing food on the go it's difficult to get good stuff and we know that can lead to some low energy and poor running!
I don't mind cooking but I'd much rather be out on the trails than spending all my spare time in the kitchen. Equally I'd rather not be trudging around the supermarket.
When I'm at home I get a lot of stuff from Musclefood.
Haven't tried the easy cook stir frys yet but very keen on the exotic meats. I usually stock up on chicken and fish and beef myself and have the exotic stuff occasionally for the novelty.
Anyway hope it saves you some time and gives you more time and energy out on the trails 
Here's their site

2. Natural food is best... if the ingredients list (if the food has one) has words you can't pronounce or don't know what they mean, it's probably not all that good! 

3. Be consistent.... Having the occasional (ie once per week not twice per day!) meal that isn't quite perfect wont harm your results too much provided you get back on track straight away, having a weekend long binge on processed food isn't going to get you very far! 

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Trying to find your abs and get a flatter stomach? Start here.

A little bit about 'abs', body fat and flat stomachs! I hear from many people
 who are frustrated with particular areas of their body, one that crops up
 A LOT is stomachs. If you're frustrated about trying to get a flatter stomach
 or really want to see some definition in your abs, you're not alone, read on.

What's this all about? 
This picture represents a side on view of large stomach muscles
 (tubs) and the small stomach muscles (white balls).

Well today's post is about the stomach!  
The muscles
The Thick blanket
The Thin blanket

So what are all these funny looking pictures? 
I'm going to give you an insight into abs and flat stomachs that many of my clients are on their way to (or have acquired) I might also tell you why doing heaps of crunches and sit ups and similar ineffective exercises are a waste of your time.... This is the best analogy I've come across...

TUBS AND BALLS... The balls on the left represent small abdominal muscles, the tubs on the right represent large abdominal muscles... These are my two six-packs for demonstration purposes... See what happens when we put a layer of body-fat on...

GREEN SHEET.... The thick green towel represents someone with moderate to high body-fat covering the abdominals, there is very little definition or shape... even on the very large abdominal muscles (the tubs) 

BLUE SHEET... The thin blue sheet represents someone with low body-fat covering their abdominals.... as you can see there is good definition on both the small and large muscles. The larger muscles protrude (stick out) more than the smaller muscles which would essentially make the stomach look bigger.

Top Picture.... represents a side on view of the large abdominal muscles vs the small ones, if you just want a flat and smooth stomach that doesn't look really really muscular or 'ripped' then getting bigger abdominal muscles isn't going to help you. Reducing the blanket of fat down to a thinner sheet however, will ensure some definition and shape but still a flat stomach.

So what does all this mean? 

Consider the Picture Below... Someone who has done no specific 'abdominal exercises' ... Why? Your abdominals should be working during all movements that involve your whole body eg when the arms and legs are working together the muscles in the middle are the link. This would show a 'thin sheet' of body-fat, Give the person in the picture a 'thick sheet' of body-fat like the green towel then there would still appear to be no definition, even though the musculature would be the same. Although the person pictured does a considerable amount of exercise (I heard he runs marathons for warm ups), living on a diet of convenience foods, sugary, carbohydrate rich foods, regular alcohol and poor quality foods would soon cover up the muscles!

Correct training helps to shape our muscles and 'burn off' excess fuel such as body fat, It's near impossible to out exercise a bad diet. Sure there may be one or two people who do, but the nutrition has an incredible effect on our bodies 'composition' (how the body is made up eg what % is fat, what % is muscle) If you want to have a thinner 'blanket' and more definition it's likely the nutrition that needs work. Endless amounts of crunches and sit ups for example, will not shape the stomach up alone, if at all.

What are your eating habits like? Do they match up to your activity levels and your goals?