Strength Training & Metabolic Boosting

Welcome back!!

A few posts ago I wrote about Interval training, particularly HIIT – high intensity interval training and why it is the best exercise protocol to use to lose fat – and it is.

Great for HIIT or 'normal' strength training...

Especially when you combine it with some form of resistance (ie strength) training. Thing is combining HIIT with strength training is VERY intense and can lead to burn out very quickly if you are properly familiar with how to use them correctly.

So what do you do if you can’y do HIIT everyday?

As you know if you have been a regular reader – you can’t out run or out lift a bad diet. But you can recondition your metabolism through a variety of means.

My choice is to keep eating the right way (low processed carbs, high protein, high fruit & vegetable intake) and to use strength training when I want either a break from HIIT or just as an alternative.

Resistance / Strength training, involves using weights, bands, kettlebells, body weight, weighted vests or other forms of resistance to force your body to move differently and work harder than it does in everyday life.

By working differently from our everyday activity and challenging our bodies at the same time we can increase our metabolic rate.

Going for a run, performing a HIIT session or doing a strength training workout and the way they affect your metabolic rate is quite different.Previously we have seen that HIIT (Interval) training has the greatest efffect on overal metabolism.

Remember it is how long for and by how much any activity boosts your metabolism that really has an impact on your ability to lose body fat when your diet is under control.

Let’s talk about the components of our metabolism:

First we have our resting metabolic rate, or RMR. This is the energy needed (counted in calories or kilojoules) to keep our bodies alive – our heart beating, our lungs breathing, etc.This is the ‘lying on the couch & not doing anything’ measurement.

Our RMR makes up about 60 to 80 percent of our total metabolic rate, so the more we can boost this the more fat we will be burning. To raise our RMR we need to recondition and boost our overall metabolism. Increasing physical activity, especially by using HIIT & strength training can directly change RMR.

Next there is the Thermic Effect of Activity, or TEA. Basically this is a measurement of how many calories are burnt by our bodies through movement. This includes walking, mowing the lawn, bringing in the groceries and so on. So your TEA is higher on the days you play touch football than the ones where you watch DVDs all day because it covers all of the activities that we engage in every day to live our lives. .

The more active you are, the more your total metabolic rate increases.

The easy way to view Metabolism

Third, we have the Thermic Effect of Food, or TEF. This is the amount of energy that your body expends to consume and digest food and then put the nuturients in the food to use to create more energy, repair the body etc. As you know you can increase your metabolism simply my eating more protein, more fibrous fruit & vegetables and less processed carbs & fat. Why? Because protein & fibrous fruit & vegetables can use up to 22% more energy to process than processed crap. As for fat – our bodies are the utimate fat storage devices so fat processing (&storage) requires virtually no energy at all.

So we can view our metabolism as the total number of calories (or kilojoules) our bodies use each day for each metabolic component.

This total energy expenditure  can be derived by using this simple formula: (TEE) = RMR + TEA + TEF.

Because we are all different the enrgy used by each metabolic component is different for each person, resulting in unique metabolic rates.

But why Strength Training?

Strength training increases our TEE by elevating the amount of calories expended in activity (TEA). The harder you strength train, the greater the amount of calories you burn through exercise. This in turn leads to the creation of more lean tissue (which is more metabolically active) which burns more calories at rest.

So strength training not only raises your TEA but also your RMR. Next to HIIT it is the best way to do this.

In turn, if you keep eating clean and also watch that your calorie / kilojoule intake does not exceed your TEE then you will lose body fat.

If you conduct your training session with intensity then they all – strength training , HIIT or running – will increase your energy expenditure both at the time of activity, and for a few hours afterwards. This elevation of your RMR that follows on in the hours after exercise is often called the ‘Afterburn’ and for fat loss it is essential. It can also only be gained by either using a HIIT protocol or through strength training.

By using multiple sets of a challenging weight, scientists have shown that the energy expended afterwards, known as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) can be elevated for 24-36 hours.

Isn't this what we want to achieve?

Strength training can boost your metabolism, but it has to be more challenging than activities you do every day. two or three pound dumbells won’t make much of a difference if the groceries you carry or the child you hug weigh more than this. The key to an elevated metabolism is to challenge your existing strength boundaries.

Otherwise your body won’t  get the challenge it needs to build muscle, lose fat and look better in your clothes – or out of them….and that’s what we’re all looking for, isn’t it?

Interval Training – the #1, not so secret fat loss tool…

Welcome back!

Today I want to look at interval training and what is one better!!

Interval training has been around for a long, long time. Supposedly even the Gladiators used a type of interval training in their preparations for the arena.

You can do intervals by running...

What is interval training? – the classic interval is that used by runners – sprint 100 metres and then walk the remaining 300 metres back to the start. Repeat. And again and again. Really interval is a mix of high intensity, short bursts of effort followed by a lower intensity, longer period of effort and then repeated as often as required or possible for the work out session.

Intervals are back in fashion and are really a research-proven tool to have in your body shape shifting arsenal. They are so good that I recommend that they be a key part of your overall fat loss & general health program.

Regular readers know by now that in order to lose fat there has to be a caloric deficit, a low level of insulin, and there has to be high levels of certain chemicals in the body so that the fat is released from the cells so it can be transported to the working muscles and burned as fuel.

Research has conclusively proven that this all important chemical release is easily achieved through the use of high intensity exercise protocols like Intervals.

But – hang on aren’t intervals just aerobics or cardio dressed up a bit differently? In a word – No! Traditional cardio or aerobics (think treadmills, aerobics classes, recumbent bikes etc etc), require low to moderate intensity over a long period of time. The effect on metabolism tends to be limited to exercise period and does not really recondition it.

Chronic cardio just is not as efficient as Intervals...

It’s true that traditional Cardio / Aerobic work actually burns more fat as a percentage of calories during the activity period than interval training does. But don’t get too excited however – it still burns fewer overall calories.

Interval and NOT aerobic training is by far the best form of exercise for this purpose.

Compared to aerobic training, Interval training:
• Releases more fat burning chemicals
• Burns more calories minute for minute than aerobic exercise and
• Elevates your metabolism during and AFTER the exercise session
The thing is not only are Intervals very demanding, but when used in the classic style they get boring and really hard to stick with. How do we deal with this by moving into what is called metabolic conditioning.

The other exercise protocol that elevates your metabolism and burns fat is resistance training – weight lifting, body weight exercise etc – so why not combine the two?

This is where the fat burning can really take off – doing resistance exercises as a circuit in an interval fashion!

For example you could use pure bodyweight exercises like this:
• Squats x 30
• Push ups x 15
• Pull ups x 5

Do each exercise one after the other without rest. This is one circuit. After each circuit rest for 2 minutes. Repeat 5 times.

You get the idea – you can do this in the gym with barbell or machine exercises, or anywhere using a variety of body weight exercise.

The thing is the fat burn during & after the exercise session is massive. The reconditioning effect on your metabolism is strong and it is hard to get bored…

If you do not have variety in your workout program you are more likely to end up at a fat loss plateau soon rather than later. Variety, changing the positive stress that exercise provides, is one of the keys to keeping that fat loss coming.

Body weight exercises are great for metabolic conditioning...

Smart body shape shifters use 2 different metabolic conditioning workouts each week (done on alternate days 4 – 6 times a week) and change these every 4 – 6 weeks.This keeps the challenge fresh and stops your body becoming too efficient at doing the workout. Remeber homeostasis – your body gets stressed, becomes efficient at the exercise stressor and then starts to use less energy to perform the exercise. This means less fat burning. By changing things around you can stop your body reaching this peak efficiency whilst still burning fat and getting fitter.

Other ways that you modify your metabolic training:
• Switch exercise methods – go from bodyweight exercises to machine, to dumb bells, kettle bells or bands.
• Up the intensity by adding a weighted vest or hand weights
• Increase or decrease the length of the circuit by adding or subtracting exercises respectively
• Increase or decrease the number of circuits per workout
• Increase or decrease the rest time between circuits

In your quest for variety don’t ignore the classic interval exercises like sprinting (great on the beach, up stairs or hills), bike riding, skipping rope or swimming. The trick is to go flat out and then use active rest (keep moving – walk after a sprint, breaststroke after free style for example) to recover before going flat out again.

I like doing kettle bells on one day and mixing a Body weight circuit with some running at the local park on the next. So I use metabolic conditioning and classic intervals…

Whilst there is a clear advantage to using metabolic conditioning workouts over both classic intervals and cardio / aerobics, you can still get a great work out by utilising the interval training circuits on machines.

For example Spin classes often use an interval training approach, you can alternate high intensity with low intensity of stationary bikes, elliptical trainers of even treadmills.

Okay, so how long should you do metabolic condition circuits or intervals for?

There is NO “best” metabolic conditioning or interval training program – no best number of “sets and reps” for fat loss. It depends upon what you like doing, what gives you the best results. The only thing I’d say is that whatever you choose to do has to be challenging and make you work!

I am about efficient time use – the higher the intensity the greater the effect during & after the exercise session. You can, as they say, go hard or go long – you can’t do both. This is why I am against what they now call ‘chronic cardio’ – Why spend an hour on a treadmill when you can better results in 20 minutes with a metabolic conditioning circuit or running intervals in the local park?

However the lack of a ‘Best’ set is a good thing as it allows us to use the all important variety in our approach.

One of these helps...

The time you perform each circuit for has a wide range. There is a thing called the Tabata protocol named after the Japanese researcher who discovered it. Using it you do 20 seconds of an exercise, completing as many reps as possible, rest for 10 seconds, and repeat 8 or 16 times for a total workout time of 4 or 8 minutes. Doesn’t sound like much but if you are doing kettle bell swings, or prisoner squats, or burpees – it really gets your metabolism running!!

At the other end of the scale is the 3, 4 or 5 minute interval circuits where you go hard for several minutes and then rest for the same period of time. Soccer players use these a lot and they are generally referred to as ‘Aerobic intervals’. They are also not, in my opinion, the most efficient for fat loss, but they are good for football players to develop ‘burst endurance’.

Short time circuits enable you to work at near maximum intensity and back up to repeat this effort again & again. This type of training is very taxing! It makes enormous demands of your body and really shakes up your metabolism. They have a downside if you are using most machines though – it is very difficult to do sub 45 second circuits on machines because of their “build up” and “bring down” times.

This is particularly true of treadmills and a number of bikes. Apart from treadmills, you can overcome this by using the machine on the ‘Manual’ setting instead of a programmed one.
If you decide to use short, high-intensity circuits, you need to understand that they require a high level of fitness and that you will have to work up to them. Short rest intervals (like the Tabata protocol) tend to lead to a dramatic drop-off in performance with each successive circuit.

Using a longer (relatively speaking) rest period will allow you to work harder in each successive circuit. This means that your performance in each circuit will be more consistent with less drop off in performance circuit to circuit.

Even these can used in an interval fashion...

Don’t think that intervals or metabolic conditioning workouts are too intense for you – they really are all relative to the individual. You don’t have to go 100% flat out in each type of circuit instead, just work at a bit harder than normal pace. Aim to be tired and a little out of breath at the end of each circuit. Don’t be gasping for breath – if you are you’ve worked too intensely and as we are using these for fat loss this means that you are pushing your fitness level to far too fast. Start conservatively and you will get the hang of it.

Here are some of the more popular timing variations:

8 seconds on, 12 seconds off

This duration was the one used by Australian researchers in the now famous “intervals vs. cardio” study from 2007. The results found that interval circuits helped subjects lose belly fat, but chronic cardio didn’t. It can be extremely difficult to control 8 seconds on, 12 seconds off unless you have a timer like a Gym Boss timer – look them up online, at about $20 they are great!

15 seconds
This is a killer = 15 seconds at max effort followed by a rest period. The truly fit can go 15 on , 15 off – but mere mortals are more likely to need at least 60 seconds recovery time as a minimum after each max effort.

20 seconds on, 10 seconds off

The previously mentioned Tabata method. Short, intense and challenging.

30 seconds on / 90 seconds off / 60 seconds off / 45 seconds off / 30 seconds off

Body weight metabolic conditioning or machine based workouts tend to use a lot of 30 second intervals. Beginners will rest up to 90 seconds between intervals, and as you get fitter you drop your rest period down the more advanced you become.

45 seconds on / 90 seconds off / 60 seconds off / 45 seconds off / 30 seconds off

These intervals are proven for fat loss, will these tax your muscles, and challenge your will to complete each circuit at high intensity.

60 second on / 60 seconds off / 90 seconds off
Similar to the 45 second intervals in terms of benefits and toughness. Use 60-120 seconds of recovery between each.

So there you have it – the best way to drop body fat through exercise.
That’s all until next time -Tweet or Facebook us or

Vitamin B & Fat Loss

Welcome back:

This week we’re going to look at three special B-Group Vitamins that compliment your fat-loss quest, while keeping you healthy and strong.

Losing body fat is a bit like fighting a war – you need the right strategy the right weapons and the right troops plus the will to overcome if you are going to win.

To win the war against excess body fat, the B-Group Vitamins should be amongst your best friends and a part of your arsenal. They’re a vital component of nutrition that enables your body to turn food into energy.

It is easier to work out and to exercise your will power when you are full of energy – without the B-group Vitamins your energy levels will be low and your ability to recondition your metabolism and to withstand temptation will fall. This in turn will make your fat-shedding efforts so much the harder…

There are three (3) main B vitamins that I want focus on. Individually they are important to your health – when used together they keep you strong, healthy, energised and compliment your fat loss efforts.

But first – What are B-Group vitamins exactly?

The B-Group Vitamins

The B-Group Vitamins are water-soluble vitamins. This simply means that they once they are processed by your body any excess is excreted in your urine.

Overdosing on B-Group is rarely an issue…

This also means that they are quickly depleted in situations of high sweat loss and activity. Because water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body in appreciable amounts and are used up and depleted rapidly, it’s important that you ensure that you are getting enough of them by eating foods that are rich in these vitamins or by taking a supplement to make sure that you have adequate levels in your system.

I recommend that you do both.

Drinking alcohol also increases the need for the B-Group Vitamins so after a heavy session of ‘glass raising’ taking a B supplement before hitting the sack is always a good idea. It’s even better if sleep is followed by another Vitamin B Group tab or 2 upon rising the next morning.

There are eight B-vitamins, which include thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6), folic acid (B9), cyanocobalamin (B12), pantothenic acid and biotin.
These vitamins act as coenzymes and as catalysts in the chemical reactions that transfer energy from the food we eat to our body systems.

They are essential for the breakdown of the macronutrients(Carbs to glucose,

Hangover – alcohol increases your Vitamin B needs – a lot!!

proteins & fats to a number of elements essential for the repair and maintenance, growth, normal functioning of our nervous system and healthy hair, skin and nails. You need to be getting B-group Vitamins everyday – without them you’ll ail.

Several of these B-Group Vitamins are especially important to having a fast (ie fat burning) metabolism and by extension a leaner, fitter body.

Pyridoxine: Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 has three chemical forms (as pyridoxine, pyridoxal, and pyridoxamine) and is the B-group Vitamin most necessary for proper protein metabolism. The coenzyme form of B6 is associated with more than 100 other enzymes which are critical for amino acid breakdown from protein foods and the conversion of certain amino acids from one type to another.

Amino acids as you know are essentially the body’s building blocks and are a necessary part of tissue repair, muscle growth, nerve sheaths, nails, hair etc etc.

B6 also helps your body to access and use the glycogen in your muscle cells for energy when you are moving and especially when you are working out. No glycogen = no movement.

If you’re not sleeping then your B-Group needs go up!!

Also the breakdown of glycogen plays an important part in the regulation of blood sugar levels (blood sugar is stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver but once these areas are full the excess is stored as body fat!).

Another important function of B6 is its ability to diminish the actions of hormones such as cortisol – the stress hormone. As we’ve previously explored on this blog when you’re under stress your body releases lots of cortisol which does a number of negative things primarily for our discussion – it promotes the storage of belly fat. It also promotes the breakdown & use of muscle tissue as fuel.

Great double whammy – you store more fat and lose muscle so your metabolism slows even further…

Adequate B6 levels are critical in times of stress (bad stress like job, money or relationship worries or even good stress like exercise) so your body does not store extra body fat and use precious muscle protein for energy.

Because B6 is so important for protein metabolism, it’s requirement depends on the

B-group helps you feel like this!!

amount of protein you consume on a daily basis. An intake of about 1.6 mg of B6 for every 100 g of protein is considered by the National Academy of Sciences to meet the needs of adults under normal conditions .

However, for athletes and people that exercise regularly (and often eat more protein), their vitamin B6 requirements will be higher given the greater need for energy and protein metabolism. Scientific studies have shown that exercise greatly depletes B6 levels in the body and needs to be kept in check through supplementation.

As you can see, when you’re an active person consuming more protein than the” Average Westerner”, your needs for vitamin B6 are increased, and it’s critical you get at least the minimum amount in each day.

Some of your best food sources of B6 include fortified cereals, potatoes, bananas, chickpeas and chicken (contains ~ 0.5-0.7 mg), but even if you are eating those foods you’d be wise to take a B-Group supplement.

Cobalamins: Vitamin B12.
What we call Vitamin B12 is actually a collection of compounds that are different molecules all containing the element cobalt. The most common form is the B12 vitamin known as cyanocobalamin.

The various forms of B12 work in the body to maintain normal brain and nervous system development and function, and play a role in influencing DNA synthesis and regulation.

B12 also plays an important role in the metabolism of fatty acids and creation of energy from foods containing fats.

You’ll hit the wall without enough B-Group Vitamins in your system… 

People with insufficient B12 in their diet suffer fatigue, depression, and can develop poor memory. In severe cases cracks may form in the corner of their mouth ( a condition known as angular cheilitis).

The cause of this tiredness and skin damage is related in part to B12’s role in red blood cell production which is necessary to carry oxygen and iron through the body. Because of this B12 is important in assisting the prevention of anaemia.

Athletes and hard exercisers may have low body B12 status, due to their increased metabolism and the raised demand for this vitamin to be used repair damaged blood cells and injured muscle tissue; and to carry more oxygen around in the blood while exercising.

This means that if you are working out regularly and hard then you will need more than the average daily allowance of ~2.4 mcg/day.

Vitamin B12 is only found in animal based foods so vegetarians – especially vegans – are

Good B6 Source – Chicken!!

at risk of developing the above mentioned symptoms of deficiency unless they supplement their dietary income.

The foods highest in B12 are shellfish (mussels, lobster), oily fish (trout, salmon, tuna), and organ meats (liver).

Biotin is an essential cofactor for several key enzymes in the production of glucose (& glycogen) and the metabolism of fats and proteins. For example, in order for the liver to make glucose (through a process called gluconeogenesis), an enzyme essential to this process called pyruvate carboxylase requires biotin in order to function correctly. No biotin no liver produced glucose…

Biotin is also needed for the breakdown of the branch chain amino acids from protein (leucine, isoleucine and valine), and some fatty acids from fat-containing foods.

B-Group Vitamins help when you’re stressed…

People who exercise often have an increased need for biotin for several reasons:

• Increased metabolism resulting in the loss of this vitamin in urine or sweat
• Increased mitochondrial enzymes that require more biotin for cofactors
• Increased need for tissue repair and maintenance
• Increased food intake requiring biotin for metabolism

The richest source of Biotin is cooked eggs (Forget the ‘Rocky’ raw egg eating – raw egg whites bind biotin due to the protein avidin). Although the average daily allowance is set at least 30 mcg of biotin each day, there is no toxicity associated from higher intakes, especially in people who are active.

B-Group Vitamins = Good Health

As you can see, ideal intake of these B-Group Vitamins helps gives your body the energy

B-Group Vitamins help you look like this…

to exercise hard, so that you can burn more fat and build more lean muscle. If you’re constantly tired because your metabolism is sluggish, if you can’t create the right energy from the food you eat then you’ll be unable to rid your body of excess body fat or achieve a lean, strong physique. So, make sure that you get plenty of these simple but potent vitamins via eating unprocessed foods and topping up with a supplement.

If you do so then your body will lose fat, your metabolism will run better and your overall health will improve.

See you next week.


Three Ways to Shape Shift

Welcome back!!

Hi folks – just a quick one today – here are 3 ways to shape shift…

Shifting you shape is all about altering the composition of your body so you have a greater proportion of lean tissue and less fat.

Shape Shifting deals with complex biochemical processes, metabolism, mental attitude and hormones. It is not a simple thing to do. But the actions you can take to achieve greater leanness and less body fat can start off simply enough.

1) Try to eat “single ingredient” foods as much as possible

Diet accounts for over 80% of your efforts to recondition your metabolism and alter your shape so it is important to begin to get it under control.

Learn to read these - the fewer ingredients the better...

If you are buying packaged food check your labels. The fewer ingredients listed (especially the fewer chemical names & numbers & different sugar types) the better. Avoid anything with Transfats listed as more than 1% ( zero is better) or anything that screams Low fat but is full of sugar – if fact if any food you buy is over 10% sugar you probably should give it a miss.

Even better try to increase the fresh component so that you are buyibng the majority of your food so fresh that it has NO labels! Think Lamb & Letuce, Beef & broccoli etc etc.

Our bodies just run better on whole foods and the less procesing involved the better for us & our health. These foods are typically more nutrient dense, usually calorie sparser and give us feelings of satiety more quickly and for a longer period of time.

The exception to this is canned & frozen foods like vegetables and beans. Nutritionally these are usually as good for you as fresh food (in some cases even better).

Again check the labels for high suagr or sodium – avoid any with these in high proportions. Use the Single Ingredient rule – the fewer items listed on the label the closer to nature and less processing that has taken place.

2) To Shape it you’ve got to Move it!! – Move more…

An effective metabolism is your greatest tool for fat loss and better health. If you don’t move your metabolism slows down.

The more you move the happier you are...

This does not mean that you have to live in the gym but that you should incorporate a range of physical activity into your daily life. So go to the gym (3 times a week no more than 1 hour at a time) to lift heavy weights, walk every day, climb hills, go padddle Boarding, ride a bike, do dance classes (even Zumba), wrestle your kids, throw the ball for the dog, re-arrange the furniture – whatever hits your switch, If they stop swimming sharks diejust move!!

If you work in an office download this free little timer ( set it for 45 minutes and when it goes off stand up and go for a quick walk, do a few squats – anything but get out of the chair! Then reset it for another 45 and get back to work. Your metabolism & back will thank you.

Studies have shown that people who walk 10,000 steps or more a day are happier, less stressed and have higher energy levels…

Your metabolism slows down if you don’t move and you fat goes up. Remember our bodies were designed to move…

3)Sleep on it…

Studies have shown clear links between lack of sleep and fat gain. We live in times of long work days, meals on the run and watching late night television to ‘wind down’. The net effect is that we are sleeping less and our bodies, in particular our metabolisms are paying for it.
The biological rhythm of sleeping and waking is called our circadian rhythm. And this is intricately tied to our metabolism.

If you wake up like this you need more sleep...

This 24-hour circadian rhythm governs just about all of our fundamental physiological functions.
Researchers have discovered (Science 1 May 2009: Vol. 324 no. 5927 pp. 654-657 DOI: 10.1126/science.1170803) that an enzyme protein called SIRT1 interacts with a protein nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD for short) that senses cell energy levels and modulates metabolism and aging. In other words there is a tightly regulated co-dependency between your circadian clock and your metabolism and cellular performance.

This also suggests that proper sleep and diet may help maintain or rebuild the balance between your circadian clock and your metabolism, and could also help explain why lack of rest or disruption of normal sleep patterns can increase hunger, leading to obesity-related illnesses and accelerated aging.

So if you regularly deprive yourself of sleep, you’re effectively disrupting your biological processes, including those regulating your metabolism. The news gets worse – lack of sleep has been shown to affect levels of leptin and ghrelin, the two major hormones linked with appetite and eating behaviours. When you are sleep deprived, your body decreases production of leptin, the hormone that tells your brain there is no need for more food. At the same time it increases levels of ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger.

The end result is decreased satiety, hunger pangs, and a sluggish metabolism…

So what is the right number of hours of sleep to get? Truth is there is no one-size-fits-all number of prescribed hours, although there’s some evidence indicating that somewhere around seven hours a night is ideal from a general health perspective.

If you are waking up feeling sluggish you need more.

So there you have simple ways to begin to ‘Shift your Shape’

Let me know how you go with them.

That’s it. And it really can be that simple. No gimmicks. No fads. Just small, proven life changes that have a lasting impact.

And that’s what Body Shape Shifters is all about — permanent long term change based on skills you take with you. Knowledge is power, and we’re sitting on top of fuel grade uranium!

Real Training for Real Fat Loss

Welcome Back!!

Today’s blog is about laying out the facts of how to train for real fat loss. Regular readers will know that I believe you should focus on fat loss, not weight loss. (If you don’t have a copy of my free report on fat loss myths you can get one from the box to the right of this post)

Simply put, after over a decade of my own ups, downs & failures to achieve lasting fat loss I have developed some fairly strong opinions on this issue.

Lots & lots of reading these last 10 or so years...

I have come to hold theses opinions through a combination of educating myself by reading articles, chasing down scientific papers, following an ever changing cast of fitness ‘gurus’ and by trying just about every program there has been. Like famous author Tim Ferriss, I have used myself as guinea pig, and I have arrived at some convictions about fat loss.

The biggest mistake I made and the one I still see the most people making is this belief that low intensity, high volume cardio is the best way to lose fat.

Let me tell you this is a crock – not true at all!!

They have their place, but not the one you've been told!

Short sharp cardio (think Tabata’s or sprints) will burn more fat for longer than hours on a treadmill, a stationary bike, stepper, strider or slider. There is a heap of research out there on this. Trouble is many Personal Training organisations, many medicos and other ‘health’ professionals are either using information from textbooks that were old when they did their degrees or else they are playing politics to gain more mainstream acceptance. Doesn’t really matter – high volume low intensity cardio is a mug’s game. Period.

Second in line is the belief that doing high volumes of circuit training exclusively is the best means of burning fat.

When I first started coming across the research on the effect of high volume circuit training on fat loss I thought that I had found the Holy Grail. The more I looked the more research I found to support this, the more of the Gurus I found who supported this – it seemed like a no-brainer.
Again – this is not right!!

One of the benefits of being your own guinea pig is that you can judge what actually works and what the effects are.

The truth is that no one exercise modality can or should be used exclusively when fat loss is the goal. What you need is a mix of exercise types that hits different energy systems in your body and works to drive your metabolism.

Using circuit training exclusively I found:

1) That the perception of effort was right up there – these were hard & challenging workouts!! So hard in fact, that I started to collect niggling injuries from too many repetitions.

2) This came about from the high volume of exercises were giving my joints, tendons & ligaments a real beating. I developed overuse injuries and these required me to stop & heal – no fat burning happens when you can’t work out!!

Injuries mean no fat loss

3) The type of exercise done in these ‘fat loss’ circuits did not allow for much weight to be used 9nor could it be safely used) so my strength began to drop off. Rapidly. A beginner may have gotten stronger (if they avoided overuse injuries) but anyone with any time using weights just seems to get weaker.

4) A drop in strength and a lack of challenging weight coupled with high volumes = Muscle loss. High volume circuits when used exclusively as a fat loss modality leads to lean tissue loss which leads to a slower metabolism which leads to shifting any fat just gets harder & harder to do.

5) High Volume Circuits also cause physical stress out of proportion to their benefits which increases your levels of cortisol (everyone’s favourite ‘fat to the belly’ stress hormone) and decreases both Growth Hormone & testosterone release. Certainly not what you want for fat loss.
However this does not mean circuits are bad. Nope they just become bad when they are used exclusively for fat loss and other exercise types & protocols are not used.

An effective, metabolic reconditioning program needs to contain most if not all of the following key factors:

1) Lift weights, heavy weights using compound (multi-joint) exercises. Think Deadlifts, chin / pull ups, squats, overhead presses, clean & jerks or even one-armed push ups. Think 4 – 6 reps and no more than 3 or 4 sets.
Not only does this preserve lean tissue, it promotes strength and better fat utilisation as fuel

2) Train fast but safe. In other words perform your exercises as fast as you can whilst maintaining good form. This engages your nervous system and leads to a faster metabolism.

3) Perform some size work – use weights that you can move for 6 – 10 reps and again no more than 4 sets. Again try for compound moves or bodyweight exercises where you are at a mechanical disadvantage. NB these sets should always come after your heavy sets.

4) Circuit training – no more than 3 stations, no more than 15 – 20 reps a time and only 3 – 4 rounds.

5) Sprint. Great for fat loss, great for your legs, do wonders for your cardiovascular & aerobic systems. Best done either later in the day or the day after your weight / circuit training.

Move your body through space - the faster the better!!

So there you have it – the best way to achieve maximum fat loss via exercise.

Give this style of training a try, and see for yourself!

5 Truths about Fat Loss

Welcome back!!

Here are five truths about fat loss that you often do not get told by the ‘weight loss gurus’ out there:

1. Prepare to be uncomfortable – At least for the first while.

In order to ose fat you have to make changes and as we have seen inprevious posts your body doen’t like change very much. in fact it fights it!! Thsi means that if you are serious about fat loss and are using a real program you will feel uncomfortable for a little while while your body starts to accept and then utilse the changes you are making.

One of the easiest changes to make is to eat less. by this I mean try to eat less than you are normallycomfortable with.

Changes from a poor to a good diet can be a litle uncomfotable for a few days...

We all know that lose fat we have to create some form of calorie deficit on a regular basis and a simple way to do this is to eat less than what has become ‘normal’ for us.

The key to doing this succesfuly is to eat foods that promote a feeling of satiety – and this means lean proteins, fibrous carbs and good fats with a distinct lowering of processed carbs.
If you can do this on a regular basis, eating less will quickly become the new ‘eating normal’ for you.

2. This is a tough one, especially in this day of media overkill interms of how we should look & act – but compare yourself to yourself.

No two people’s shapes are the same, everyone has a different body shape so it makes no sense at all to say I don’t look like Brad Pitt (I don’t!) or Angelina Joie ( I definately don’t!!) as no=one does.

The photos we see on magazine covers of either celebrities, models or just ‘beautiful people’ are photshopped, airbrushed, and taken from expertly lit photo shoots done by professionals. No real person can look like that without the same technology and support (make-up, lighting, personal chefs etc etc) being available. Yet we tend to compare us to these images and almost EVERY picture you see a completely unrealistic illustration of a human body. And like it or not, no matter how hard we try we will never look like these images…

It will take a while to get to look like this - if ever. be your best, not the media's...

By all means use the mass media images as a means of inspiration but the ONLY person you should be comparing yourself to is yourself. Use the mirror and way your clothes fit to chart progress and focus on becoming the best that you can, not the bestt hat Photshop can produce…

3. Be in a hurry but be patient. At the same time.

Sounds crazy but what I mean is that there is NO evidence to back up the idea that the maximum ‘safe’ fat loss is a couple of pounds a week. This is an arbitary number that has gained widespread acceptance without any scientific backing.

It is possible to lose a lot of weight more quickly than this – but (notice I said weight and not fat) the usual drastic means often mean fluid loss, wrecked metabolisms and ending up a skinny fat person.

You can safely lose over 20 pound of fat in a month by using the right protocols – eating nutrient dense, calorie sparse foods; increasing your lean protein intake, exercising so you maintain muscle mass and increase your metabolic rate and use diet tricks that manipulate your hormones and enable you to successfully combat your body’s desire to maintain the status quo. These things usesd together will deliver a string fat loss.

So you you sould be in a hurry to get on the right program and begin to make the necessary changes so your metabolism becomes fitred up again.

Move it more...

You should be patient as even with a fat loss of 20 pounds in a month you are unlikely to see thaose 6-pack abs or get as lean as you want. This is where you keep at it and twatch the results come.

In my experience most 30 -day body recompositions for someone who is over 30 pounds overweight progress something like this:

First Week – Some cravings, your body is fighting back some soreness from unaccustomed exercise.

Second Week – The odd craving or 2 surfaces, your body is getting used to eating differently, you have dropped some size, exercise is not as challenging and you feel stronger.

Third Week – No cravings, visible changes, clothes fit better you are stringer & feel fitter & stronger, energy levels rise.

Fourth Week– Waist measurements are lower, your shape is diffeent- especially in the arms & legs and under the chin; the food is second nature, the exercise a habit and you are seein gthe results of a 20 pond fat loss and feeling great.

Feel fitter & stronger...

Again – this is generic – how your body and your mind react will be unique to you but in general if you follow a program like the ones outlined in previous blogs thisis what will happen.

4. Just because you are exercising more does not mean that you can eat more. Not yet.

Remeber you are trtying to fire up your metabolism and a proper program will enable you to eat the right fuel and not feel hungry. However there is a persistent myth that just because you exercise you can ‘reward’ yourself by eating lots more or even re-introducing some of the foods that got you fat in the first place.

Wrong – you cannot & should not. At least not until you are at your goal shape (again shape NOT weight). Once you are there you can switch to a maintenance program and frankly after 30 plus days of eating correctly you will not likely want to over eat or eat junk. (NB a good program allows for ‘Cheat days” where you eat what you want but again over time even on the cheat days you’ll find your desire for poor food much diminished.)

5. Lastly understand that your weight will flucuate over your fat loss journey.

So don’t weigh yourself every day – this is the quickest route to depression and falling off the leannes wagon there is.

Your goal is fat loss, part of this is increasing lean mass. Lean masss weighs more than fat so the scales could show you even gaining some weight in the early weeks. Add to this diferences in fluid intake & retention, Menses, the differing effects of different foods and your weight can alter as much as 6 or 7 pounds from day to day.

Get off the damn scales!!

Use the mirror, use your clothes and if you have to use the scales do it once a week at the same time and on the same day.

Stay the course and focus on the monthly trend.

I’ll be back soon!! Be well!!

How to Master Hunger

Welcome back! I hope that you & your family had a safe & enjoyable New Year’s celebration.

When you are trying to lose fat, recondition your metabolism manipulate your hormones, exercise intelligently and still create a calorie deficit experiencing hunger is the quickest way to fall off the fat-loss wagon.

Constant, nagging hunger pangs are usually the sign of a diet too full of processed carbs and sub-par protein. Your body is so used to eating nutrient sparse foods that it has become conditioned to hit he hunger switch so it can get as many nutrients as possible. On a processed food diet these nutrients are sparse so they come with a load of sugars & so-called empty calories.

Lots of calories with little nutrition...

Even worse it is now believed by researchers that when you don’t consume enough nutritious foods your body enters a state of nutrient under supply which creates inflammation and a release of metabolic waste products that are toxic. The end result is a hunger pain that is truly painful & only alleviated by eating.

A recent study (Changing perceptions of hunger on a high nutrient density diet. Fuhrman, J. et al., Nutrition Journal 2010 Nov 7;9:51. Carried out at Hahn School of Nursing, University of San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA ) has the answer though. And it echoes what I put forward in my 4-part post on reconditioning your metabolism.

The study involved 768 people who changed from diet lacking in micronutrients to one that was high in micronutrients. They then completed a survey that dealt with a number of the dimensions of hunger – things like mood swings, irritability, physical symptoms and where they felt the hunger in their bodies – on the 2 diet types.

In the study the level of and pain associated with hunger experienced (and the level of difficulty involved in coping with it) both dropped dramatically when the people involved switched a diet heavy in healthy foods. Large differences in the physical & emotional symptoms were found in the reporting between the 2 diets.

On the nutrient dense diet, hunger was not experienced as often as the sparse nutrient diet, nor was it as painful or even as unpleasant. This held true even when meals were skipped! Positive changes to the way in which they experienced hunger were reported by almost 80% of participants with 51% saying they had experienced ‘a dramatic or complete change in their experience of hunger.’

The study concluded a nutrient dense, though calorie low diet reduces or removes the less pleasant aspects of hunger. They found that it was not the amount of calories that influenced hunger but the density of the nutrients in the food eaten.

This is the ticket for nutrient density...

So – forget about counting calories; instead fill your meals with nutrient dense, low- or unprocessed foods. Focus on quality foods like nutrient-rich fruit, vegetables, whole grains with lean proteins and healthful fats – if you don’t your body is going to miss them and demand more fuel.

Just imagine – once you start feeding your body better it will make hunger a more pleasant and rarer experience, it will crave good food instead of processed crap, and you’ll find it easier to stay on the fat loss wagon.

I’ll be back soon – in the meantime why not leave a comment, Tweet this to others or ‘Like’ us on Face Book.

Be well.

The Top 20 Time-Tested Healthy Habits for a Longer Life

Happy New Year!! I hope that you all had a great & safe new Year’s celebration.

Now the hangovers are done with and we are in the middle of resolution time I thought that I would share the following list with you…

So without further ado here are The Top 20 time-tested healthy habits to living longer that have survived for centuries…

1.     Eat fewer processed carbs, more plants, fruits and nuts.

2.      Have some lean protein with every meal.

Eat more of these with lean protein

3.      Put family first – Time with family is priceless and usually lowers stress levels and hence lowers cortisol which means les storage as belly fat.

4.       Take a walk. Move more we were not meant to sit all day or stay in the one spot. Have a stroll every 45 minutes – even if it is just for 5 minutes.

5.      Drink a glass of red wine daily. Reveratol etc etc – red still beats white for the good health properties.

6.      Reduce and manage stress by exercising, talking with a loved one or taking up a practise like Mediation, Tai Chi or Yoga. Bottomline stress kills so avoid it, reduce it or deal with it!

7.      Have a purpose find something that excites you when you wake up each morning.

8.      Spend more times outdoors – it will re-connect you with the world ourside your house & place of work.

9.      Be grateful – appreciate what you’ve got more than you rue what you do not.

10.  Have fun – do things that you enjoy, love life!

Move more, lift, push pull & play...

11.  Maintain a healthy body weight – recondition that etabolism, get leaner, eat better, avoid ingesting too much crap.

12.  Get regular exercise – push, pull. twist, run, walk, move weights, jump and play. Just move more. Remember we were designed to hunt, nit sit all day.

13.  Love and laugh – at the same time wherever possible (except when eating – messy…)

14.  Snack on nuts and low GI vegetables, low GI fruit and low fat cheese.

15.  Give something back. No esoteria here but paying things forward, giving when you whave wants seems to smooth the way…

16.  Eat 6 times a day – 3 ‘mains’ and 3 ‘snacks’

17. Eat a large breakfast with protein and good carbs.

18.  Eat a medium lunch –

19.  Eat a small dinner

20.  Drink plenty of water.

You can't get enough of this...

21.  Sleep when it’s dark.

22. Learn new things. It keeps you young, your brain working and lets you talk to others.

Well that was 22 but I couldn’t find anyhting about counting correctly when I researched this…

Next Post – we’re back into firing up your metabolism, getting leaner and some more hormone news…

Post Christmas – Recovery from Over Indulging…

Hi – I hope that you all had a great Christmas day and Santa brought you what you wanted!!

Well Christmas dinner is over, done and dusted. And you’re feeling….well stuffed, over fed, pants too tight, got a good case of belly bloat going on and that furry tongue feeling that comes from either too much alcohol. too many sweet carbs or a mixture of both.

You mean there's more...

You know you should have followed the last post and eaten your Protein first but the honeyed veges looked too good, the egg nog was too plentiful and well you just let go and enjoyed youself. Another Christmas day come & gone and you feel a bit guilty and find part of your mind saying (again) never again..

Okay time to move past this, time to get back on track, tme to recognise that this was a temporary diversion and most of all time to repair some of the damage done.

So how to do this?

Firstly realise that letting go of your diet control once & a while is okay, just make sure that you climb back on the wagon.

Here’s how – your metabolism has been given a hiding, your digestive system has been stressed far beyond normal limits so you need to hit the ‘reset button’.

This little trick will do the what’s needed: Once Christmas day and the following one (Boxing Day here in Australia) are done then make a decision to stay away from all highly processed, high GI foods and focus on lean Protein, fresh fruit and fibrous vegetables. Add some healthy fats via nuts & avocado and you are well on the way to getting back on track.

You'll need lots of this...

This means waking up and having an omelette with some spanish onion and mushrooms in it and avoiding cereal & milk. It means grabbing an apple or a peach and some almonds for a snack, having big salads with olive oil dressing and chicken or turkey breast, it means avoiding breads, crackers or that the left over Christmas pudding, Pavlova or pie.

It means drinking a lot of water. A lot of water.

Eating like this will reduce the bloat, ease the stress on your digestive system and beat back those sugary carb cravings.

This works by allowing a number of things to happen – fewer carbs means your body has a chance to normalise & stabilise blood sugar levels after the havoc of the days just gone. Your pancreas gets a break and you insulin levels will drop also. Your body will release excess fluids (high sugary carbs creates water retention – and drinking extra water when eating lower carbs actually forces a situation where excess retained water is ‘let go’). High sugaery carbs also unleash the cravings monster and eating as described above will blunt these.

... and lots of these...

So December 27th or 28th get stuck into water and left over protein , veges and fruit. Pass on the potatoes, the bread and sweets, pie & cakes. Not only will you lose the bloat but you’ll feel better quicker and be back on track for a fit & lean 2011.

My best wishes for a Safe & Happy New Year – may 2011 be the year all your dreams come true!!

Try this Trick to Avoid Overeating on Christmas Day…

Happy Festive Season to you & yours from me & mine!!

Look – we all know what is going to take place once the presents are opened, the hugs exchanged, and you and your family sit down for Christmas lunch – you’re going to eat too much, way too much.

If you’re like me, you vow every ear not to overindulge and every year you slip up. ( in my case it is particularly hard – Lynne is a gourmet class cook who loves to put on a huge spread for the family for Christmas and damn it she knows ALL my favourites!!)

The Calm Before the Storm...

The aromas of the Turkey, of the roast Pork, the leg of Lamb, the baked Ham; the sight of the salads, the roast vegetables, the fresh  prawns and sea food, then desserts – all of these combine to overwhelm even the best intentions and steeliest of wills.

So what to do?

How can we avoid eating until we are so full that we feel like the Michelin Man and need to have a lie down?

How can we avoid the latent guilt that comes up over the next few days and makes us feel bad about our lack of control?

It’s simple – apart from the most fanatical amongst us we really can’t… BUT there is one simple thing we can do that will give us at least a modicrum of control…

Eat your Protein foods first. (Hah!! You thought I was going to say use smaller plates, or drink a glass of water first, or chew on a chunk of cheese  – Nope – a very important part of Christmas is to celebrate and to let go – even if it is just a bit!)

Start off with the Ham or the Turkey, with the Pork or the Lamb or the Prawns – just eat your proteins first.

If you have been reading this blog for a little while  you’ll know that Protein foods not only fill you up faster, but they assist in the the secretion of the chemical messengers that let your brain know you are full.

In general it takes about 20 minutes from the time your stomach is full until your brain gets this message, but Protein has the ability to send get that message from your stomach to your brain much faster than other nutrients. Protein promotes feelings of satiety (feeling full & satisfied at the same time) better than any other food.

Start with this...

Eating your Protein first will prevents over eating because it helps you realize you’re well-fed and not starving!! Even better, Protein will not elevate your blood sugar as dramatically as high GI ‘fast’ carbs. A rapid rise in blood sugar (almost an instant hyperglycemia experienced at just about every Christmas Dinner) can actually make you feel more hungry by stimulating the hormone Ghrelin which is the ‘feed me more’ appetite stimulating hormone. Protein shuts down this hormone – a good thing!

Even worse a sugar ‘high’ actually switches off your ‘stop eating you’re full’ mechanisms so you get shaky and start shovelling food in – usually faster and faster, without even really tasting it.

Instead, protein keeps your blood sugars within a normal range so you don’t go through the rollercoaster highs and lows that make you feel even less satisfied.

So Protein first, then eat the high fibre vegetables (think brocolli, green beans, asparaghus etc). These too will add your sense of satiety so you feel full & satisfied.

Then it is open slather – go for the high carb, low fibre fare but you’ll likely find that your servings will be smaller and you will need less to satisfy your taste for them.

There you have it – a simple plan for Christmas that will enable you eat well, feel full & satisfied, indulge without bloating and more importantly not upset the cook by eating like a monk!!

I hope that you & your families have a great Festive Season, no matter what your spiritual beliefs.

May your God go with you!