Potassium

Why do I need it?

The balance between electrolytes is greatly important for our health. It can affect the amount of water in our system, the acidity of your blood, our muscles ability to contract and the communication between our nerve cells. We are talking the ability to regulate a heartbeat and, to have full command of skeletal muscle. In the world of electrolytes, it is often sodium the one making headlines. Nonetheless, potassium merits equal amounts of attention. As a matter of fact the balance between sodium and potassium, or the unbalance I must say, is more responsible for high blood pressures than is sodium alone, which is what many of us have been told. The body will do it’s best to stay afloat, even if, say, you where to chow down on salty foods all day. It does have tightly controlled regulatory mechanisms in place. Insulin for instance, although not the only hormone to do so, has this regulatory ability. Sadly, if you do not have good insulin sensitivity, which is likely if you’re eating processed foods, then maintaining normal blood pressures and proper fluid balance becomes even more difficult. 

Can it help me train better?

Cells are in a constant exchange of fluids, and nutrients, with their surrounding environment, in what turns out to be a quite delicate trade. The tiniest shift in concentrations of sodium and potassium can allow water and nutrients, such as proteins and carbohydrates, entry in to muscle cells. Thinking of taking advantage of this nifty anabolic response? Read all about the sodium/potassium pump here. Word on the street is that potassium, or a lack thereof, is behind muscle cramps, especially exercise induced muscle cramps. This theory certainly fits the mould. The problem is, science has yet to undercover if, in fact, it is lack of potassium or an electrolyte imbalance overall that actually causes muscle cramps. For the time being don’t become a victim of cramps – have a read of ‘Muscle Cramp – what is it & how to avoid them’.

Where to get it?

Most fruits vegetables are the best sources of potassium. Leafy greens, vine fruit, root vegetables such as sweet potatoes with their skin. 

Am I deficient? 

Hypokalaemia, full blown potassium deficiency, is really quite uncommon. About 85% of all the potassium we consume in our diet is absorbed.

Yet to discard the possibility of marginal deficiencies would be naïve. A standard diet full with processed food is likely to be loaded with salt, increasing our need for potassium. We know for certain that salt sensitivity varies with ethnicity. African Americans, for example, are on the more sensitive side.

Although only a minute amount of potassium is lost through sweat, athletes, especially while exercising in hot weather, should also be mindful.

Pregnant woman might find their high blood pressures augment their potassium needs. Patients with high blood pressures are often prescribed diuretics, which increase their excretion of potassium. 

Should I supplement? 

Even those that are extremely salt sensitive or are at risk of marginal deficiencies can get what they need from food, and they can consume it quite easily. Being sufficient in potassium can be done in two steps. 

  1. Lower your salt intake
  2. Eat fruits and vegetables:
    • One papaya – 781 mg
    • One medium mango – 323 mg
    • One small banana – 422 mg
    • One sliced tomato 400 mg
    • One medium baked potato with the skin – 986 mg
    • One medium avocado – 344 mg 

Is there risk for toxicity?

Over the counter brands and multivitamins contain very little potassium, 100 mg approximately since the risk of toxicity is very high. Having toxic levels of potassium can cause a condition called Hyperkalaemia which, as you can imagine, can cause anything from fatigue to cardiac arrhythmias (abnormal beating of the heart) and ultimately cardiac arrest. You do not loose significant amounts of potassium in your sweat. Supplementing heavily with the mineral with the intent of preventing muscle cramps is NOT a good idea. 

Daily Allowance: 4.6 g/day 

Source: Dr Paul Cribb – Metabolic Precision

Calcium

Why do I need it? 

If there is one mineral that takes all the credit for bone and tooth health, it is calcium. That is because more than 99% of the body’s calcium is stored away in bone and teeth. This mineral ensures the strength of the network of collagen fibres making up bones and teeth. The remaining 1% is found in plasma. Calcium is not the only element responsible for bone and tooth health but it sure is a key player.

Bone health aside, there are over 100 tasks calcium is involved in. From delivering a heartbeat to making nerve cell communication possible calcium is ubiquitous within the human body. Important for us fitness enthusiasts is the fact that calcium is essential for skeletal muscle contraction and for improving body composition. You can read all about how making calcium a staple in your diet can aid your weight loss and muscle building efforts in Calcium – your secret weapon to speed fat loss.

Where to get it? 

Dairy products will give you anywhere from 200mg to 400mg of calcium per serving. You can also get a great deal from the bones of fish such as salmon and sardines. If you have a taste for it, eating the articulation and bones of other animals can be a great way to get calcium (and collagen) into your diet as well. 

Vegetable sources of calcium include leafy greens such as kale, spinach and bok choy as well as broccoli and turnip. Since these do not represent a substantial source of calcium, vegetarians may have to opt for foods fortified with calcium such as tofu. 

Read some fantastic tips on how to meet (and assess) your calcium needs in FDN Calcium Fights Fat – are you getting enough? 

Am I deficient? 

The body tightly regulates how, and where, it allocates calcium. If calcium in blood is not sufficient to support enzymatic activity it will take out of the biggest calcium “bank” we have – our bones and teeth. Make sure you don’t let this happen by consuming foods rich in calcium. 

If you are relying heavily on vegetable sources of calcium here is something to consider. Less than 5% of the calcium in spinach is available to us because it is exists bound to oxalates. On the other side of the spectrum, we have broccoli, from which we can absorb about 50% of the calcium contained in the plant.

Should I Supplement? 

According to the office of Dietary supplements of the US National Institutes for Health the data on the weight reducing properties of calcium and dairy products is mixed. Supplementation does not seem to have the same effects on body composition as the ones seen from consuming whole foods. Other components in dairy, and calcium rich foods, might work synergistically with calcium to produce these effects. As a matter of fact foods high in protein enhance the absorption of calcium.

There are other factors, most of them we have yet to discover, that contribute to calcium absorption. Vitamin D, A and K2 as well as a healthy gut lining are all things to keep in mind. 

All in all, in the case of calcium, food sources seem to deliver the greatest benefits. Although we will always absorb calcium best from food sources, some of us might still fall short or have special circumstances that merit supplementation. If this is your case make sure you know how to choose the correct calcium supplement. Dr. Paul Cribb shows you how to do this, here.

RDA(recommended daily allowance): 800-1200mg day 

Source: Dr Paul Cribb – Metabolic Precision

Magnesium

Why Do I Need It? 

We have approximately 25g of magnesium in our bodies, or at least we should. The great majority of the mineral, around 60% of it, is concentrated in bone and teeth. The rest is mostly found in muscle (only a small fraction is found in plasma). Magnesium’s plays many roles some of which we are just starting to understand. It is a mineral needed to jumpstart the production of energy. The potent liver antioxidant, glutathione cannot be made without sufficient magnesium. 

We are just beginning to understand magnesium’s role in the prevention of type II diabetes. Magnesium deficiency has been shown in individuals with poor glucose tolerance. Up to 38% of diabetic patients test low on plasma magnesium levels. Type II diabetics given a 2.5g of a magnesium solution improved their insulin sensitivity significantly.

Magnesium and calcium work synergistically to allow a healthy heartbeat and an efficient skeletal muscle contraction. Magnesium is an important mineral for bone health. It helps direct calcium towards bone and teeth, away from soft tissues. It is also needed to make the active form of vitamin D. 

Magnesium has the rare, and much valued, characteristic of calming the nervous system by stimulating the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system. Magnesium is being studied for its potential pharmacological properties. So far it has shown to improve sleep, establish a better inflammatory response, lower blood pressure. It is certain to be a key player in preventing heart disease and hypertension in a very new future.

Where to Get It? 

Depending on the mineral quality of the soil they were grown on, we can list green leafy vegetables, nuts and seed and unrefined grains as high sources of magnesium. Magnesium is the third most abundant mineral in the ocean. This allows Kelp to have a whopping 760mg in an 100g serving. Grains such as millet have somewhere in the vicinity of 162g of magnesium in an equal serving. Almonds and cashews weigh in at around 260- ‐270mg. Yet another way to incorporate magnesium, as well as many trace minerals is to consume unrefined sea salt. 

Am I Deficient? 

Given the abundance of ways magnesium can be stripped away from our diet, it is surprising we get much of it all. Magnesium is among many minerals depleted from modern day soils. Food processing will deplete any magnesium naturally occurring in plant or seeds. Removing the bran to produce flour, roasting nuts and seeds in their oils to enhance their flavour are all practices that deplete these foods of magnesium. 

The phosphates in carbonated drinks, supplemental iron and calcium can reduce the absorption and increase the need for dietary magnesium. Magnesium losses from sweat are significant as well. Exercising heavily in hot weather or any other condition that will increase sweat rate (menopause for example) can lead to anxiety, sleep disorders and body aches, all of which can be attributed to low magnesium levels. 

Should I Supplement? 

Oral magnesium supplementation of up to 400mg a day has been deemed safe and effective to prevent deficiencies.

Which Supplement to Choose? 

There are several kinds of oral magnesium supplements. Magnesium malate and magnesium citrate as well those available, as organic salt chelates are all well absorbed forms. The powdered versions allow each individual to select a dosage that is right for them. Magnesium can be absorbed quite well through the skin, although it is flushed away in urine just as effectively. Bathing in magnesium sulphate, what are called epsom salts, is a common practice used to alleviate muscle pains, but it also happens to be a great magnesium delivery method and potent form of detoxification. Transdermal magnesium creams are also quite popular, safe and effective. 

Is There Risk for Toxicity? 

Even if supplementation is rendered safe it is always best to consult with your physician. People with diseased kidneys, pathologically low heart rate or unhealthy bowels should avoid supplementing with magnesium. For everyone else, the most extreme and worrisome side effects of supplementation are constant trips to the bathroom (loose stools). 

RDA: 400mg 

Source: Dr Paul Cribb – Metabolic Precision

Pause-Button Mentality

Why the “Pause-Button Mentality” is Ruining your Health and Fitness

“I’ll resume healthy eating after my holiday/once the baby is born/after Mum gets out of the hospital/in the New Year/on Monday.” While this kind of pause-button mentality seems reasonable, it could be ruining your health and fitness. Here’s why, and what to do about it.

What’s the harm in letting your nutrition and fitness plans take a break when you’re:

  • leaving for vacation;
  • completely swamped at work;
  • pregnant, or just after delivery;
  • injured; or
  • caring for an ailing family member?

The thought process usually boils down to:

If I miss some workouts, eat the wrong things, skip the homework from my trainer… I fail.

Aren’t I more likely to succeed if I take a break, just until I have the time to do it right?

This is what I call the ‘pause-button mentality’.

Now, don’t get me wrong.

I think it’s normal, even commendable, to want to do your best, to consider taking time to regroup and then resume (or start over) when life feels easier.

At the same time, this completely natural and well-meaning impulse is one of the fastest, surest, most reliable ways to sabotage your plans for improved body shape, energy levels, and health.

Here’s why (and what to do instead).

Starting fresh after you lose your way is a really comforting thought.

That’s probably why New Year’s resolutions are so popular, especially following the indulgence-fuelled holiday season. In fact, the idea of a do-over is so alluring you don’t even need to mess-up for the pause-button mentality to take over.

But here’s the problem: The pause-button mentality only builds the skill of pausing.

Whether it’s tomorrow, Monday, next week, or even next year, hitting that imaginary pause button gives you some sense of relief and allows you a little respite from what can be a really tough slog (and the middle is always a tough slog, it doesn’t matter what kind of project you’re working on.)

This perceived relief is compounded by the illusion that if we “start fresh” later we can find the magical “right time” to begin.

Listen, I get it.

It can feel absurd to try to improve your eating and exercise habits while you’re in the midst of chronic stress/looking for a job/starting a new job/going on holiday/caring for ageing parents/raising small children.

That’s probably why there are so many 21/60/90-day challenges/kick-starts out there. What adult has more than 90 days to go after their fitness goals with an all-out effort?

But what do these intense fitness sprints teach you?

They teach you the skill of getting fit within a very short (and completely non-representative) period of your life.

What don’t they teach you is the skill of improving how you look, function and feel (and staying that way) in the midst of a normal, complicated, “how it really is” sort of life.

This is why these short term challenges and yo-yo diets have become such a phenomenon.

It’s not about willpower. It’s about skills.

In most fitness scenarios, you learn how to get fit under weird, tightly-controlled, white-knuckle life situations.

You build that one, solitary, non-transferrable skill — to slam the pedal to the metal, drive the needle into the red, squeal down the road, burning the rubber off your tyres until you (quickly) run out of steam and crash.

What you don’t build is the ability to get fit and healthy under real-life conditions.

That’s why it doesn’t stick and you inevitably go back to where you were before you started. You did you develop the skills and habits. It’s not because you suck and lack motivation, it’s because the natural and predictable consequence of having a limited skill set is short-term progress, followed immediately by long-term frustrations.

What will be different next time?

I was having coffee with a friend who swore that their low-carb diet plus daily running and moderate gym session was the secret to staying fit and healthy.

I had to follow up with a painful question: “Well, why are you?”

After a long pause: “Uhh, I’ve had a hard time sticking with it. The holidays just ended. I just switched jobs,” (blah, blah, blah).

“But, once everything settles down, I’ll get with the program and get in shape again! I guess I’m just on a little break.”

This story illustrates the point perfectly.

Here’s someone who’s built their fitness on a house of cards. They know only one thing: How to get in shape by following a very challenging program when the conditions are perfect.

And whenever life isn’t perfect, which is most of the time, they hits the pause button. They wait for a better time and while they wait, they are losing the health and fitness they previously worked so hard for.

Life is… happening. And it’ll happen again in January, or after the baby is born, or after Mum gets better, or at any other arbitrary point you pick.

And then what?

Let’s accept that life has no pause button.

The key lesson here is that, like it or not, the game of life keeps going.

There is no timeout. There’s never going to be a moment when things are magically easier. You can’t escape your work, personal, and family demands. Nor can you escape the need for health and fitness in your life.

Here’s a thought experiment:

What if you tried to hit pause in other areas of your life?

Imagine you’re up for a big promotion at work. For the next two weeks, all you want to do is focus on mastering an upcoming presentation, and winning over your boss.

Trouble is, you’ve got two young children at home who tend to grasp, koala-like, onto your legs and demand your full attention.

You say to your spouse, “I’m just gonna press pause on being a parent for now. I’ll be staying at a hotel while I prepare for this presentation. Don’t contact me.”

Not going to happen, right?

You can’t really press pause — and you definitely can’t hit reset (You’ve thought about it, though – right?)

Just like you can’t stop showing up for work and expect not to get fired.

Generally, when it comes to life, we know we’re not always going to be on our A-Game: sometimes we’re superstars, but most of the time we just do our best. We muddle through. We keep going.

So why do we expect it to be any different with your health and fitness?

Perfectionism is not the point.

Completing a fitness challenge is not the point.

Being the “best” for a tiny window of time is not the point.

The point is to keep going. Sometimes awkwardly, sometimes incompetently, sometimes downright half-arsed. But to keep going nonetheless.

The “all or nothing” mentality rarely gets us “all”; it usually gets us “nothing”.

Wouldn’t it be better for an “Always something” mentality?

Perfection never happens in real life. We’re always going to be doing the best we can with what we have. And that’s okay.

We can still make progress toward our goals and still improve how we look, function and feel – whatever’s going on in our lives.

That progress doesn’t happen if you “press pause” and wait for a better time.

In my opinion, pressing pause is buying into an imaginary ideal: a “perfect” time when everything will fall into place; a beautiful, linear trajectory from total suckiness to an apex of awesomeness.

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Asking for a restart because you don’t want to mess that line up is deluding yourself that somehow, next time will be easier. Next time will be perfect. No interruptions, no distractions… no… life.

Unfortunately, there is no perfect time.

We may have magical moments, of course. Short periods of time when things seem to “click” and come together. But then the dog craps on the rug, or one of the kids throws up on the lounge, or the kids throws up on the lounge because the dog craps on the rug and then one or the other tracks it all through the house!

If you keep pressing pause, your progress looks like this.

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Or, worse yet, you end up flatlining, stuck on a never-ending (maybe eternal) pause.

What to do next.

Health and fitness in the context of real human life is just like the rest of life.

We’re all just doing the best we can in challenging, complicated circumstances. We are all living messy, imperfect lives. We are all human.

If we can just keep moving forward, no matter what happens, no pause buttons, no do-overs, we win the game.

Here are a two strategies for getting out of the pause-button mentality and into a more realistic, effective, sustainable way of thinking.

1. Aim for a little bit better

An all-or-nothing approach usually doesn’t get us “all”. It usually gets us “nothing”.

You know what actually works? Small improvements done consistently over time work.

You might be spending hours awake with a newborn in the middle of the night, or stuck in yet another full-day meeting.

These aren’t ideal scenarios, but they’re not necessarily hopeless either.

Look around. Get creative. See if you can find some small — maybe minuscule — improvements.

2. Anticipate, strategise and plan

Since we already know that stuff is going to go wrong, the best thing we can do is anticipate and make plans for how to deal with when it happens.

A simple way to do this is by answering two questions:

  1. What’s likely to get in the way of what I hope to accomplish?
  2. What is something I can do today to help me keep going when I face those obstacles?

For some people, that might be a Sunday ritual where they prep food for the week so they won’t be scrambling for healthy meals on busy weeknights. For others, it might mean having a healthy meal-delivery service on speed dial.

Don’t be surprised and dismayed when things go pear-shaped. Just arm yourself with the best tools and strategies so you can stay in the game when someone turns on that bloody fan and shit starts to fly!

7 Ways to Know You Have a Great PT

So, you recently had your “snap point”. That moment where you decide enough is enough, you’re not going to stay the way you are any longer.

Inspired and motivated, you take the plunge – join your local gym, and even start working with a PT!

You turn up to your first session fresh, excited and maybe a little nervous.

By the end of the session you have left the gym sore, sorry and maybe a little lighter in the stomach after having lost your lunch!

That was the hardest thing you have ever done physically in your life, and the next day you wake up so sore that you are more angry and distressed than anything else.

All of a sudden, the excitement of your intended lifestyle change has been replaced by pain and a reluctance to return.

Let’s be clear about this – the world certainly isn’t suffering from a shortage of PT’s.

It’s honestly not that hard for anyone in to obtain the qualifications necessary; within a month you too could be working in a gym or out of your home, making money out of people’s pain and suffering.

Let us also be clear about something else – not all Personal Trainers are created equally.

The divide between your run-of-the-mill Certificate III and IV in Fitness and a true Body Transformation Specialist is huge.

So how does your average gym goer, or even a person looking to make an inspired transformation know what to look for when engaging the services of a PT?

For the most part they can be an expensive investment; however, if you know what you are looking for then the investment will pay dividends you never dreamed possible.

Here are 7 ways to know you’ve got a great PT!

1. Experience

It doesn’t hurt to see and know your PT’s accomplishments.

Do they look like a PT? Have they walked the walk and gone through their own transformation? What about client results?

If your PT hasn’t changed themselves or anyone else, that’s usually a warning sign.

2. The Guarantee

How confident are they that together you will achieve your goals? 

Can they look you in the eye and tell you that if you follow their direction, the money, sweat and effort will pay off?

Money and most of all time is precious. You can’t afford to spend either on guesswork.

It takes a trainer with real confidence in themselves and their service to tell you honestly that working with them will get you the outcome you want.

Generally a guarantee will follow previous results, so look there first.

3. They’re not afraid to say no

A PT who tells you they can help anyone/everyone isn’t being honest with you.

I know I can’t help anyone and everyone. The best trainers out there know who they can and who can’t help.

I’ll use myself as an example: One of the things I know how to do it to take inactive and understrength individuals and get them ready to to join the Australian Defence Force or the NSW or Federal Police.

Does that sound like I could help you prepare to run a marathon? Absolutely not! I haven’t done it, and I have no interest in doing it.

If someone came to me wanting to be trained for a marathon, I’d refer them on to someone who specialise in that sort of thing.

The best PTs out there aren’t afraid to say no.

4. They sell you more than just workouts 

Look, I’ll be honest here – anyone can give you a workout – your next door neighbour could probably put you through one.

A true Transformation Specialist gives you more bang for your buck than a mere workout.

Extras should include things such as a legitimate nutritional component that involves education, support and accountability.

Training is only 3% of your week when structured correctly – is your Trainer ensuring you’re ready for the other 97%?

You should also be learning from the experience – why you’re doing what you’re doing, why you’re eating what you eat. Are you exercising correctly based on your goals?

5. Each workout is structured and recorded

If you rock up for a session ready to go and your PT decides on the spot that you might today use the leg press, a shoulder press machine, maybe some bicep curls etc., then you have to ask why.

A top-tier Specialist should know what you are doing well before you arrive, and most of all, should be able to tell you why you are doing it.

If your PT hasn’t prepared a full program for you, chances are they are guessing their way through it and are hoping for the best.

This is not what you are paying for!

Logging the results of each exercise of each workout is essential for anyone looking to make serious gains. How do you know what you are doing this week if you can’t remember what you did last week?

Your PT should have all this written down so you can pick up exactly where you left off.

There is a strong chance you aren’t the only person they have trained this week.

How can they remember off the top of their head what 10/20/30 people have trained through the week?

6. You get what you pay for

A PT who knows they can deliver isn’t afraid to charge at a decent rate.

If you attempt to haggle with a trainer and they lower their price, this tells you how much confidence they have in both themselves and their product…not much.

On the flip side, a high-end trainer is not afraid to turn business away if a potential client is stuck on price; people who are prepared to pay good money for guaranteed results stand a much better chance of getting them as they are financially accountable for their investment.

You really DO get what you pay for! The very best PTs out there will give you an outcome for your investment.

People don’t buy 6 inch drill bits, they buy 6 inch holes. (Think about it 😉)

 7. You have rapport and trust

Arguably the most important part. You are going to be spending multiple hours per week with this person over the course of three, six, nine or more months.

It helps that you have a good rapport, and above all else, trust that the person you are working with will help you get where you want to go.

There is no doubt that engaging the services of a high-end trainer will reap rewards you did not think were possible, and truly change your life. The biggest mistake (apart from choosing the wrong trainer), is thinking you can do it alone. I consider myself quite a skilled and experienced trainer, but I too I use a trainer as it helps me keep on track and offers me challenges I probably would not have worked through if I was doing it all by myself.

Hopefully these tips will help you sort out the extraordinary from the ordinary and help you move forward with your health and fitness goals.

Don’t settle for less. You’re worth it. :)

Stay Strong – Stay Healthy – Stay Happy.

HIIT Me With Metafit

What is Metafit?

Metafit was created by a former Royal Marine Commando and combines short periods of intense bodyweight exercises with the latest HIIT training techniques to set the metabolism on fire!

Why is Metafit So Effective?

Below are some physiological adaptations your body undergoes when you do Metafit so that you can understand why Metafit is an important training protocol at Eternally Fit.

Improved Insulin Sensitivity

Insulin sensitivity, or how well your cells respond to insulin, has a big impact on how well you tolerate carbohydrates, and whether those carbohydrates will affect your ability to mobilise fatty acids. Reduced insulin sensitivity means you need more and more insulin to do the same job. And since insulin is a storage hormone, when it’s high, it’s more difficult to lose fat.

Produces the After-Burn Effect

Excess post exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), is the increased oxygen your body uses after an intense workout to erase its oxygen debt. It uses this oxygen to return the body to homeostasis.

That means it uses additional calories to perform tasks such as muscle repair and replenishment of fuel stores. EPOC is also known as the after-burn effect, which is the process of burning extra calories long after your workout is over.

Improved Vo2 Max

VO2 max is your body’s maximum capacity to transport and use oxygen during exercise. It is a great measure of physical fitness. Generally speaking, the higher your VO2 max, the better your fitness level. A higher VO2 max also means that you can exercise at greater intensities for longer periods of time.

The good news is that doing Metafit will result in significant improvements in VO2 max. This improvement can be achieved whether you are a beginner exerciser or an advanced athlete.

Creation of New Mitochondria

Mitochondria are little cell powerhouses that produce energy. In simple terms, they take the fat and carbohydrates you either eat or store and convert them to usable energy. The more mitochondria you have, the more efficiently your body utilises the calories you consume.

The number of mitochondria you have can be increased by creating a demand for more energy production. In fact, HIIT is a potent stimulus for the creation of new mitochondria.

Boosts Favourable Hormones

Metafit does more than just burn calories. It primes your body for fat loss by creating a favourable metabolic environment.

Internally, your body undergoes many hormonal changes in response to intense training. Specifically, Metafit boosts growth hormone and testosterone levels after just 10 minutes, and the amount secreted is correlated to your exercise intensity.

Growth hormone and testosterone are a potent combination for both fat loss and muscle growth. Engaging in Metafit will provide you with this amazing benefit.

Burns More Total Fat Compared to Endurance Training

Did you know you can burn more fat doing Metafit than your typical steady state endurance training, even when burning a fraction of the calories? It’s true!

A study comparing a 15 week HIIT program to a 20 week endurance-training (ET) program showed that despite its lower energy cost, the HIIT program induced a more pronounced reduction in subcutaneous fat compared with the ET program. When the scientists adjusted the numbers so the calorie burn was equal, the decrease in the sum of six subcutaneous skin-fold measurements induced by the HIIT program was ninefold greater than by the ET program.

Builds Muscle While Losing Fat

Many people say you can’t build muscle and burn fat at the same time. While it can be difficult to put on a large amount of muscle mass while in a calorie deficit, you can certainly accomplish both goals concurrently.

In fact, a 12 week HIIT program has been shown to increase lean body mass, while at the same time reducing total body fat, abdominal and trunk fat, and visceral fat.

The additional muscle will pay dividends by increasing your resting metabolic rate so that you’re burning extra calories at all times of the day. Build muscle and lose fat, all while exercising for less time. Seems too good to be true, but it is!

Increased Capacity for Fat Oxidation

During exercise our bodies undergo all kinds of chemical reactions and stress adaptations. Our bodies literally change from the inside out.

Just seven sessions of HIIT over 2 weeks induced marked increases in whole body and skeletal muscle capacity for fatty acid oxidation during exercise in moderately active women. HIIT causes changes to your body that increases its ability to burn fat.

5 Facts about EPOC

5 Things to Know About Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC)

What happens to your engine at the end of a long car trip? It does not require a degree in automotive engineering to know that once you have reached your destination, your carʼs engine stays warm as it gradually cools to a resting temperature. 

Here’s a cool fact: The same thing happens to your body after exercise. Similar to how a carʼs engine remains warm after being turned off, once a workout is over and youʼre back in your daily routine, your bodyʼs metabolism can continue to burn more calories then when at complete rest. This physiological effect is called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. Also known as oxygen debt, EPOC is the amount of oxygen required to restore your body to its normal, resting level of metabolic function (called homeostasis). It also explains how your body can continue to burn calories long after you have finished your workout. 

Your metabolism is how your body converts the nutrients you consume to adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the fuel your body uses for muscular activity. ATP is produced either with oxygen using the aerobic pathways or without oxygen using the anaerobic pathways. Exercise that places a greater demand on the anaerobic energy pathways during the workout can increase the need for oxygen after the workout, thereby enhancing the EPOC effect. 

Here are five things you should know about EPOC and how it can help you achieve optimal levels of calorie burning from your workouts.

Exercise that consumes more oxygen burns more calories. 

The body expends approximately 5 calories of energy to consume 1 litre of oxygen. Therefore, increasing the amount of oxygen consumed both during and after a workout, can increase the amount of net calories burned.

Circuit training and heavy resistance training require ATP from the anaerobic pathways, leading to a significant EPOC effect

Strength training with compound, multi-joint weightlifting exercises or doing a weightlifting circuit that alternates between upper- and lower- body movements places a greater demand on the involved muscles for ATP from the anaerobic pathways. Increased need for anaerobic ATP also creates a greater demand on the aerobic system to replenish that ATP during the rest intervals and the post-exercise recovery process. Heavy training loads or shorter recovery intervals increase the demand on the anaerobic energy pathways during exercise, which yields a greater EPOC effect during the post-exercise recovery period.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is the most effective way to stimulate the EPOC effect

The body is most efficient at producing ATP through aerobic metabolism; however, at higher intensities when energy is needed immediately, the anaerobic pathways can provide the necessary ATP much more quickly. This is why we can only sustain high-intensity activity for a brief period of time—we simply run out of energy. HIIT works because during high- intensity exercise ATP is produced by the anaerobic pathways; once that ATP exhausted, it is necessary to allow ATP to be replenished. The rest interval or active-recovery period during an anaerobic workout allows aerobic metabolism to produce and replace ATP in the involved muscles. The oxygen deficit is the difference between the volume of oxygen  consumed during exercise and the amount that would be consumed if energy demands were met through only the aerobic energy pathway.

EPOC is influenced by the intensity, not the duration of exercise. 

Higher intensities require ATP from anaerobic pathways. If the ATP required to exercise at a particular intensity was not obtained aerobically, it must come from the anaerobic pathways. During EPOC, the body uses oxygen to restore muscle glycogen and rebuild muscle proteins damaged during exercise. Even after a HIIT workout is over, the body will continue to use the aerobic energy pathway to replace the ATP consumed during the workout, thus enhancing the EPOC effect. 

Resistance training can provide a greater EPOC effect than running at a steady speed. 

It was found that when aerobic cycling (40 minutes at 80 percent Max HR), circuit weight training (4 sets/8 exercises/15 reps at 50 % 1RM) and heavy resistance exercise (3 sets/8 exercises at 80-90 % 1RM to exhaustion) were compared, heavy resistance exercise produced the biggest EPOC. 

Eternally Fit – ICE & FIRE

This is why our ICE and FIRE programs are so effective. But there is a very big proviso; YOU must make it work by ensuring your intensity levels are between 8 and 10 (1 being sitting watching TV, and 10 being running for your life!)

If you want the effect of the EPOC (burn more calories while NOT exercising) then you must put the work in to create it!

The Pros and Cons of Group Training

Fitness classes are all the rage, especially this time of year.

As soon as January 1st rolls around, lots of people start signing up for Zumba, spinning, cardio kickboxing, yoga, bootcamps, or whatever other group fitness classes are offered in their areas. Hell, even Jazzercise is still around after all these years.

What is it about training in this kind of setting that’s appealing to so many people, and is this something you should pursue?

Of course, that depends on your goals and what you want from your training, but there are a lot of good reasons for training in a group class setting, but it’s not the right approach for everyone, though.

In this article, I’ll go over the pros and cons of training in a group setting, so you can find the approach that works for you.

As you set your goals this year, my ICE program might be just what you need to jumpstart your training and start building the foundation you need. Maybe you can get a friend or two to join in the fun 😉, but have a read before you make your decision.

3 Reasons to Start Going to Group Fitness Classes

Let’s start with the pros of training in a class setting (good news if you just bought a full year worth of Zumba classes 😳.

1. Great for Motivation and Staying Consistent

Training with a community of like minded people can be powerfully motivating. Working out with such people tends to increase your intensity during workouts and provide accountability. There are also interesting mental health benefits to group training (especially outdoors), particularly with reducing stress and improving general quality of life.

With that community accountability and magnetism, it becomes easier to tap into the mighty power of being consistent and persistent with your training.

Having somewhere that you need to be at a certain time with real people expecting you (not some YouTube or DVD virtual class/trainer) can encourage you to find a really solid rhythm to your training. The act of getting ready and showing up becomes a ritual, which can further reinforce the positive habit change.

2. Affordable Alternative to Personal Training

Price-wise, you’re also in luck, at least when compared to 1-on-1 training.

If you’re going to classes with quality instruction, and the classes aren’t too crowded, you can get some of the benefits of supervised training without the massive price tag that comes along with personal training, and you’ll be able to do far more sessions for your money.

3. Gives You a Chance to Try Things Out

Many small group training studios, dance studios, and martial arts schools offer time-limited class programs, or free trials. This allows you to make a small investment in experimenting with new things until something really catches your attention. Then you can dive in deeper.

3 Reasons to Avoid Group Fitness Classes

For some people, group classes are the best possible training option, and if that’s you, then by all means, keep doing them! (Be sure to read the next section on how to make sure you’re going to high quality classes.)

Here are some of the cons of training in this setting.

1. Lack of Continuity

With the exception of some specific classes (such as a particular martial art, or yoga, or style of dance), most drop-in classes at your local gym or fitness studio won’t necessarily follow any sort of path toward an end-goal.

You might go to the same exact class on a Monday, a Thursday, and a Saturday of the same week. It’s just about showing up and doing something, rather than showing up and working toward something. And that’s fine, sometimes, but that lack of continuity makes it hard to stay motivated and stay on track.

And for those classes that do have a sequence or plan, if you miss a class or two or three, when you come back to class, it’s often hard to just pick up where you left off.

2. Poor Setting for Learning Skills

Related to the lack of continuity, this type of setting makes it much more difficult (if possible at all) to learn specific skills. Skills-training, by definition, requires continuity and logical progressions.

Another aspect that makes a class setting less-than-ideal for skills training is that it’s inflexible. The instructor is there to teach, demonstrate, and/or supervise a specific class structure, which means less opportunity to make adjustments to your skills training on a particular day. And when you’re working toward a skill, you need that flexibility, since every day is different.

3. No Individualised Instruction

This is quite obvious, especially when compared to 1-on-1 training. But it does also depend on the class size and the quality of the trainer. Speaking of trainers, Eternally Fit doesn’t have trainers, we have coaches! What are the differences? Well, you will have to come to some of our classes to see 😃.

What to Look for in a Group Fitness Class

Like most things in life, not all fitness classes are created equal. If the group setting is the right approach for you and your goals, then you should absolutely do that for your training. But there are some things you’ll want to look out for, to make sure you’re getting the most from the experience.

Smaller Group Size

Within group classes there is a wide spectrum of size and atmosphere.

Some spin classes are gigantic, loud, and fast, where you might train for months and the instructor will never even hear your name, much less learn it. But tucked away one room over might be a quieter, more consistent class of 5-10 people doing some funky moves on the floor.

Whatever specific type of class you’re interested in, look for those with a smaller group of people, and you’ll get a more personalised experience.

Qualified Instructor

Once you find the class that appeals to you, have a closer look at the instructor.

Look up their credentials. Have they studied and practiced the kinds of training in which you are interested? Or, on the other end of the spectrum, are they just collecting certifications? When you attend the class, pay close attention to the instruction. Is it focused on technique and quality of movement? Or is the instructor just yelling at you and pushing you mindlessly?

Safety First

It’s important to be mindful and pay attention to how you feel during and after class. Are you experiencing pain or discomfort? Do you feel consistently discouraged or pushed beyond your reasonable limits? While it’s good to challenge yourself, there’s a fine line between a healthy challenge, and pushing yourself to the point of injury or burnout.

Whatever you’re doing, make sure you’re training in a way that feels safe, and with people that encourage that. That’s why it’s worth shopping around for the style that fits you.

Built-In Continuity

If you find an instructor with whom you connect, with a good class size, training in a format you enjoy, and you feel safe in the environment, you’re off to a fantastic start. You stand to gain a lot just with those characteristics alone. But the next thing to really examine is continuity.

Does the class allow you to increase the challenge and variation as you improve in a movement. A class that takes this into account and is built around a central theme, goal, or plan will bring faster progress.

Find the Right Approach for You

As you can see, there are a lot of good reasons to train in a class setting, and they may be the right option for you. Just don’t let convenience be the only factor in your training choices. You want to make sure you’re putting your time, energy, and money into things that will help you toward your bigger picture goals.

If you want to give the classes at Eternally Fit a go, you can attend as many classes as you like in a week for 2 weeks (we have 9 classes per week) for $20. What a bargain! If that appeals to you, click here.

If you want to see what classes we offer in our ICE Program, click here instead.

101 Ways to Lose Weight – #9

Keep a Food and Exercise Diary

A good way to lose weight is to fill in a food and exercise diary every day. Make sure you base it around a strategic plan of healthy diet and regular daily exercise. Filling out a diary will help keep you honest and on track with your eating, drinking, and exercise habits.

Teresa Cutter – The Healthy Chef

On Monday 04 Jul 17 my day was:

Meal 1: Omelette with peas, capsicum, corn, cheese

Latte

Meal 2: Liquid Meal – Banana, Frozen Mango, Protein Powder, Flax Oil, Coconut Water

Pre-workout: 250ml Water, Gatorade Powder, Protein Powder
20 Minute Kettle Bell Workout
Post-workout: 250ml Water, Gatorade Powder, Protein Powder

Meal 3: 2 eggs, handful of grapes

Meal 4: Liquid Meal – Frozen Mango, Protein Powder, Flax Oil, Oats, Milk

Meal 5: Mandarin and some walnuts

Meal 6: Salmon, Stir Fried Garlic Broccolini, Corn, Quinoa.

Lots of water was consumed throughout the day too.

 

101 Ways to Lose Weight – #8

Go Mediterranean

Studies have shown that people who follow a Mediterranean-style diet are, on average, less affected by degenerative illness and disease. This is attributed mainly to the focus on fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, pasture-rasied meats and a generous amount of good heart-healthy fats coming from nuts and olives.

Consequently, traditional Mediterranean diets are low in what I call ‘the terrible three’ – saturated fats, trans fats, and refined sugar – that are so typical of the Western-style diet followed in countries such as Australia and the United States. Instead, Mediterranean diets are rich in good heart-healthy unsaturated fat and fibre, nutrients and phyto-chemicals that support good health and wellbeing.

The dietary pattern is also accompanied by lots of physical activity and incidental exercise such as walking to work instead of catching the bus, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. The Mediterranean lifestyle also tends not to include and inter-meal snacking, and there’s an emphasis on reduced portion sizes and not over-eating at mealtimes.

Theresa Cutter – ‘The Healthy Chef’