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Blog - Health & Fitness

Oct 18, 2012  |  Category: Training

Have you ever felt sick during a workout? Some hardcore bodybuilders think that you haven’t trained hard enough if you don’t feel sick after a heavy leg day. Also some CrossFit junkies say it’s completely normal to leave your pre-workout meal on the pavement after an all-out session. Really??

Of course, a certain amount of fatigue is normal and expected when you train. However, training until you puke works against your ultimate goal and will be counterproductive. As you get fitter, your limits will expand. You have to see that fine line between safely pushing through a hard workout and pushing so hard you throw-up. While you should challenge yourself, you should never train so hard that you vomit. By losing valuable nutrients you would lose much of the benefits of an awesome workout if you go too far, and muscle recovery would be impaired.

Why does it happen? If it isn’t the huge meal that you had too close to training, then most often, it is caused by the brain doing everything it can to ensure it has enough blood sugar (glucose) during periods of intense exercise. Securing that fuel may mean that the brain signals the stomach to empty its content so that the digestive system doesn’t use any of the glucose the brain needs to keep vital systems functioning.

How to prevent it?

- Avoid eating a large meal 90 minutes before a workout. Some people may need 2 hours. It really depends on your digestion rate.

- Know your limits, and listen to your body. You have to become aware of your individual signs and symptoms that you might be headed for a trip to the bathroom. You may feel dizzy, need to sit down in the middle of a workout, sick to your stomach, or have a blurred vision. These are all symptoms of overexertion.

- Stay hydrated. Proper fluid intakes are a must before and during workouts. It depends on your weight and workout intensity, but for the average person 4L of water is a good amount to aim for. Your urine should always be a pale yellow, almost clear color. If it’s not, you need to drink more water.

- If you have a trainer, you should keep an open line of communication. No matter how good he or she knows you, they can’t feel what you are feeling. Let them know how you’re doing throughout your workout.


Oct 8, 2012  |  Category: Nutrition

Probiotics are tiny, “good” bacteria that naturally occur in the gastrointestinal tract and destroy harmful bacteria, improve bowel movements and aid digestion. However, appropriate levels of these bacteria, commonly called microflora, do more than just make sure food passes through you efficiently. Probiotics directly affect nutrient absorption and they lower chronic inflammation, while supporting your body’s ability to produce neurotransmitters for the brain.

In fact, about two-thirds of your neurotransmitters are made in the gut lining, meaning that the major chemicals that are responsible for mood and brain function are produced in the gastrointestinal tract. There’s a lot of evidence that cognitive function and mood will be poor if you have problems with your gut.

Improve Your Digestion

It is estimated that one third of the UK population regularly suffers from digestive illnesses, such as irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhoea, stomach-aches and nausea. The healthy bacteria in probiotics are involved in the completion of digestion, the manufacture of B-vitamins and the gut barrier preventing toxins from entering the blood stream. They also keep pathogenic organisms under control.

Detoxify Your Body

A new study in the journal Nutrition shows that probiotics help detoxify the body of heavy metals, free radicals, and dangerous bacteria by enhancing the natural antioxidant status in the body. It significantly increased glutathione status (the number one internal antioxidant in the body) and decreased malondialdehyde, (a primary marker of oxidative stress that leads to inflammation) indicating activation of the detoxification system.

A second study of pregnant women confirms this. Seventy pregnant women in their third trimester who were given a probiotic for nine weeks had much higher glutathione and related antioxidant levels than a control group. Researchers suggest a probiotic is safe and beneficial for the health of the mother and the fetus.

Lose Belly Fat

The interesting thing about belly fat loss with probiotics is that it starts with the brain. Here’s how it works: if you have an unhealthy gut, you will likely have more stress and anxiety, which leads to the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol. Several studies have shown that stressful events trigger cortisol and lead to the onset of chronic gastrointestinal disturbances. Stomach problems and elevated cortisol directly affect insulin health and leads to belly fat gain.

Detoxifying your body also helps with fat loss. The effect of enhancing the body’s antioxidant system is better blood sugar management and insulin health, leading to better body composition.

For best results, consider taking a probiotic all the time. Many people think a probiotic is only necessary when feeling sick, but with the constant inundation of bad bacteria, heavy metals, and oxidative stress we are exposed to daily, a probiotic is essential. Also it’s a no brainer if you’re trying to lose fat. A good supplement I use is Bio-Acidophilus Forte from BioCare.


Sep 25, 2012  |  Category: Nutrition

A client of mine asked me recently if he could replace the meat in his diet with soy. I already knew about the controversy surrounding soy but I was shocked with what I found out from my research. Dozens of respected scientists have issued warnings stating that the possible benefits of eating soy should be weighed against proven risks.

An interesting historical fact is that traditionally Asian soybean plants were not grown to be eaten but to be used as "green manure" — as a cover crop designed to be plowed under to enrich the soil between plantings of the crops used for food. It was a fertilizer. It wasn’t until the Chiang Dynasty that the Chinese came up with the fermentation methods needed to tame the soybean’s undesirable elements and make it into a food.

In the West, the soybean has mostly been used for its soy oil, which is what you get in most products labeled vegetable oil, margarine, or shortening. Soy here is a product of the industrial revolution — an opportunity for technologists to develop cheap meat substitutes, to find clever ways to hide soy in familiar food products, to formulate soy-based pharmaceuticals and to develop a plant-based renewable resource that could replace petroleum-based plastics and fuels. This last could be good for the planet.

It's all a matter of moderation and suitability. In women excess intake of soy can have adverse hormonal effects involving the reproductive organs and the thyroid. When there is too much soy in the system, a woman may complain of an array of symptoms including fatigue, low libido, heavy menstrual flow, cramping, infertility, depression, hair loss, dry skin and weight gain.

For men the main dangers are related to a decrease in testosterone production. Just about all soy products on the market contain the phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) known as isoflavones. Plant estrogens have lowered testosterone levels in rats, monkeys, and other animals as well as humans. This usually leads to decreased libido and lower sperm count. There’s an old wives tale that Japanese women punish their straying husbands by feeding them a lot of tofu!

The processing of soy also makes it a less than desirable food item since the process involves chemicals, such as aluminum, high heat and pressure, robbing it of nutrients it may have had. The high temperature denatures the protein so that it is virtually useless as a protein source. Some people even refer to soy as an anti-nutrient since it contains protease inhibitors, phytates, saponins, isoflavones which interfere with nutrient digestion, mineral absorption, and the immune system.

Trypsin is an enzyme that is responsible for the breakdown of proteins and this action is blocked by soy. When proteins are not completely broken down they tend to putrefy in the gut leading to a host of GI symptoms. Research has also shown that when trypsin is continuously inhibited that the pancreas is prone to pathologies, including cancer.

Soy also contains a substance that promotes red blood cells to clot and together with trypsin, this dynamic duo has been shown to inhibit growth. Fermenting soy products inactivates these harmful effects.

It is also important to note that there are many hidden sources of soy including margarine, ice cream, pastas, bread, chips, cereals, canned tuna, fast-food burgers and vegetable oil. Soy can be found in more than 60 percent of the goods sold in supermarkets. Anyone who's eating processed, packed, or canned foods is probably getting some "hidden soy." It’s even been called the "stealth ingredient."

If you are still not convinced, read Dr. Kaayla Daniel’s book The Whole Soy Story. The information and research provided here will blow you away.


Sep 14, 2012  |  Category: Training

There’s a certain trend I have observed in the gym over the course of years. The biggest pitfall for most people may be sticking to the same workout routine long after it’s outlived its usefulness. For some it’s a lack of imagination that keeps them doing the same basics in the same order. For others, a kind of inertia takes over, so they robotically do the same exercises for the same reps with the same weights, giving their muscles no new stress to adapt to. If you’re making continuous progress on a routine, you can stick with it. If you’re not, change it now.

So what shall you do about it? Quite often the problem is a lack of knowledge. Learn more exercises, and find what works for you! Get some help from a professional to make sure your form is correct. You’ll be surprised by all the variations different exercises may have.

Try the different machines in your gym. Sometimes just subtle differences in things like the placement of pulleys and hinges can make a big difference in how two similar machines work your muscles.

It’s not just exercise selection you can alter. A good idea would be to push up the intensity by increasing the number of sets per exercise, working in different rep ranges, changing exercise order or the workout order of your training split. Plus all the intensity booster techniques you can use – supersets, drop sets, rest pause, negatives etc.

Also make sure you mix it up when it comes to cardio. Do some HIIT, skipping, boxing and martial arts, dance or just use all the different machines in your gym. Reading a magazine on the recumbent bike or staying on the treadmill for extended periods most likely won’t bring you the desired physique.


Sep 3, 2012  |  Category: Health

In many ways, Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is one of the most powerful nutrients in our bodies. It plays a critical role in the proper functioning of your cells as both an energy producer and as an antioxidant. It is crucial to maintain the health of your brain, heart, immune system, eye health, gum health and more. CoQ10 assists in the production of ATP, quenches free radicals, enhances the stability and permeability of cell membranes, recycles and regenerates important antioxidant vitamins (C and E), and regulates cell signaling and gene expression, particularly in skeletal muscle.

Unfortunately CoQ10 levels in your body naturally begin to decline as early as age 20. Research has suggested that CoQ10 may protect against many age-related disorders, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, blood vessel function, and certain neuromuscular diseases (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s). Hence, if reducing the effects of aging is on your agenda, it should definitely be on your supplements list. It also appears to help muscle fibres improve their capacity of strength and power as well as hypertrophy. A study found that CoQ10 may increase the amount of fast-twitch muscle fibres without even training.

CoQ10 is a naturally occurring, vitamin-like compound synthesized primarily in the liver from the amino acid tyrosine. So it’s produced by your body but has to also be consumed with food or supplementation. Given that the normal daily intake of CoQ10 is less than 10 mg per day, this is a case where food sources alone won’t cut it. You’d have to eat 6.5 kg steak every day to get a sufficient dose.

So how much should you take? Given its effects on reducing muscle soreness and improving performance, athletic individuals over the age of 21 who train intensely may benefit from 200-300 mg per day, divided in two doses and taken with a fat-containing meal. There are two forms of CoQ10. Ubiquinone (the oxidised form of CoQ10) gets converted to ubiquinol in your body. Consumers over 30 years of age are encouraged to use ubiquinol.


Aug 22, 2012  |  Category: Nutrition

With a healthy dose of determination and a few altered lifestyle and dietary habits, you can ditch the additional body fat and approach a respectable level of body composition. However, when bitten by the training bug, you may reach a point when respectable is not good enough. So why is losing those last few pounds so difficult? Enter leptin – one of the key factors related to fat loss.

Leptin is a hormone that plays a key role in regulating energy intake and energy expenditure, including appetite and metabolism. It is one of the most important adipose derived hormones. That’s right - fat isn't simply just a storage tank for excess calories, it’s actually an endocrine organ, like a thyroid or adrenal gland, for example. This means that fat – in this case white adipose tissue – secretes hormones, and leptin is one of them. The more fat the fat cells contain, the more leptin is released. Think of leptin as a metabolism controller and a hunger regulator. It controls food intake and energy expenditure by acting on receptors in the hypothalamus. The absence of leptin (or its receptor) leads to uncontrolled food intake and resulting obesity.

This is nature at its finest. Your body is programmed to survive. On one hand, when food is available, leptin keeps you from adding too much fat mass. On the other hand, leptin responds to and defends against excessive body fat loss that might threaten survival or reproductive ability. Eat too much and metabolism speeds up to keep up. Don't eat enough and it slows down to keep you alive.

Leptin resistance is a condition in which the brain can't determine when body fat is at an appropriate level. The fat cells are sending leptin out to the hypothalamus to signal that fat stores are full. Leptin binds the receptors, but no downstream messages are sent. It's like knocking on the door when nobody is home. In spite of all the extra body fat mass, the brain perceives starvation and orders fat storage.

Here are a few tips to prevent leptin resistance and keep your metabolism humming:

- Get and stay lean

Don't "bulk up”. Stay close to target weight, and minimize body fat gain, then you won’t have to resort to extremes that put your body into survival mode to get lean.

- Cheat meals

When you go sub-maintenance calorically and get into a depleted state, adding in a cheat meal once per week can stop you from entering "perceived starvation." This will help prevent leptin resistance.

- Limit inflammation

Reducing inflammation increases leptin and insulin receptor.

- Don't go carb-crazy

High insulin levels cause insulin resistance, which causes increased inflammation. Insulin and leptin resistance are so intertwined that fixing one helps the other.

- Sleep

Sleep deprivation reduces serum leptin levels. In some cases, dysfunctional sleep can also increase leptin levels, leading to leptin resistance.

There are also several dietary supplements that can help fight leptin resistance – calcium, fish oil, taurine and acetyl-L-carnitine.


Aug 13, 2012  |  Category: Training

Have your workouts got a bit boring lately?  Struggling with reaching adequate intensity? No wonder you feel lethargic if you have stopped seeing progress. Fancy a bit of oomph in your workouts? Let’s cover a few ways you can use supersets to leap over training roadblocks.

Supersetting is certainly a very effective way to boost training intensity. Supersets are simply two sets of different exercises performed one after another without resting in between. Virtually anybody can benefit from such workout boosters, especially to shock complacent muscles. Also when weight loss and fat burning is the primary goal, supersets come very handy to push up your heart rate during the workout and increase your post-exercise oxygen consumption hence boosting your metabolism during your well-deserved rest time.

- Antagonistic

Follow an exercise for one muscle or muscle group with one for its antagonist e.g. narrow-grip bench press + barbell curl; incline dumbbell press + incline dumbbell row; leg curl + leg extension.

- Pre-exhaust

Isolation exercise directly before doing a compound exercise for the same bodypart e.g. incline dumbbell flye + incline barbell press; leg extension + leg press; rear lateral raise + face pull.

- Compound

There’s no reason you can’t superset basic compound lifts like squat, deadlift, bench press, military press, dips. Occasionally combining basic lifts is a brutal way of training, as it thoroughly taxes your energy reserves, but that’s precisely why it’s an effective method to push your workouts to the next level.

- Synergism

To focus on a specific goal, you can superset two bodyparts that may or may not be antagonistic. For example, you can emphasise your outer limbs by alternating a set of forearms with one for calves, or you can superset chest with triceps for a “pushing “ workout, or back and shoulders for a width workout.

-Extension

Also sometimes called post-exhaust. In this effective and convenient way to superset, you follow one exercise with another for the same bodypart. It even makes sense using the same weight, provided that you’re stronger in the second exercise.  For example, do a set of dumbbell flyes and, when you reach failure, start doing dumbbell bench presses, thus extending your initial set beyond its point of failure. Or you could add another exercise and turn it into a triset, as demonstrated here in one of my “Deadly Intensity” videos.

How much and how often you should use supersets in your training routine – this largely depends on your lifting experience and the goals you’re training for. Without adequate lifting experience excessive use of supersets may lead to overtraining, especially when nutritional requirements aren’t met. It’s all about gradual progression when moving towards your fitness goals.


Jul 4, 2012  |  Category: Health

It is no secret that the government has vilified salt with warnings that better health will come by reducing salt from the diet, and we will be able to prevent cardiovascular disease and strokes. However the research evidence is not convincing that salt intake is linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease or death. Let’s examine closer the main factors that determine how much salt you should use, and just as important – what type of salt.

- Natural vs Refined

The commonly used salt is a very refined product that has morphed into something that is so far removed from its original form that it has become toxic. It’s typically just sodium chloride or NaCl with just one or two other mineral elements. It may have anti-caking agents added such as sodium silicoaluminate. A good sea salt however may have over 84 mineral elements, meaning those salts provide a potent mix of valuable nutrients.

- Insufficient and Unconvincing Evidence

Health recommendations for salt intake are based on the theory that a low salt intake will result in lower blood pressure, and that lower blood pressure will decrease cardiovascular disease and related disease risk, meaning low salt intake should decrease cardiovascular and related disease risk. But that’s not necessarily true. Research shows that reducing salt intake will lead to a lower blood pressure. It’s suggested that this reduction in blood pressure could reduce risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart failure – and that’s where the problem arises.

The theory that reducing salt intake in order to lower blood pressure and thereby prevent cardiovascular disease is called the “salt hypothesis.” The problem with the “salt hypothesis” is that blood pressure is only a “surrogate outcome.” A surrogate outcome is one that is not of direct practical importance to a health issue, but rather it is one that produces one health outcome that may or may not be associated with a real outcome. The problem is that there are many other complicating factors and in some cases the relationship between the surrogate outcome and the health outcome is weak. New research provides convincing support that salt intake is not linked to mortality in general, or linked to death from cardiovascular disease or heart failure.

- Individualised Salt Intake Is Key

Restricting salt could be good to combat acne, but it would be disastrous for someone trying to recover from adrenal fatigue. In certain genotypes, salt can aggravate osteoporosis. Salt has been shown to increase calcium excretion in the urine, producing an imbalance in the body and putting certain individuals at greater risk for bone loss. In fact, there is even a gene that is linked to greater risk of hypertension and osteoporosis that is exacerbated by increased salt intake.

Plus, people with high blood pressure can lower their blood pressure by reducing salt, which can have a variety of benefits. Overweight individuals with high blood pressure who are at risk of diabetes may benefit from less salt intake, but if they also have adrenal fatigue, that may not be the solution. Clearly, everything needs to be individualized for the greatest health benefits. Making blanket statements that everyone needs to lower salt intake is ridiculous!

The more cooked food you eat, the more salt you need to activate certain intestinal enzymes. Also athletes and strength trainees will likely also need more salt, partly because they have higher protein needs and partly because training depletes the muscles of certain nutrients. Plus, electrolytes (potassium, magnesium, sodium) may be lost in the sweat, requiring greater salt or nutrient intake.

An interesting fact is that salt should be colored, not that bland white stuff. Salt should be pink, red, beige, or grey. When salt has a color, it indicates that it contains trace minerals and has not been highly processed. Good salt is readily available at any health food store at a reasonable price e.g. Celtic Sea Salt which is about 82 percent sodium chloride, and 14 percent other minerals, of which magnesium is a large portion. Another benefit of colored salts is that the iodine naturally contained in colored salts is retained in human tissue for a long time, making it more beneficial. In comparison, the refined iodine that is added to salt is not as physiologically useful.


Jun 28, 2012  |  Category: Mindset

It’s time some people get serious. Health and fitness are going to add a lot of QUALITY years to your life, so why have a half-hearted attitude? The British Nutrition Foundation have compiled a list of 108 small changes that can be made and which together can have a big impact on weight. That’s what they claim anyway. Have a look at the report here.

I totally agree on the classification. There are lots of factors that will affect a would-be dieter in different parts of their life. And grouping these issues in different categories can help dealing with them efficiently in a holistic way. However, the way to deal with them in some areas and degree of action required is something I can’t agree on. 61% of adults in the UK are overweight, and one in four is obese!! I guess we wouldn’t dispute on how serious this is. So this kind of attitude in regards to solving the problem is just like a doctor telling a patient with a fractured leg: “Well, you just need to rest it.”

Hiding the remote control and changing channels manually? What about having a structured intensive workout, and then rewarding yourself with a chilled-out evening in front of the telly WITH the remote? So that you can recover from the workout, and you’ll keep on burning calories, as long as it’s been intensive enough and you’re fuelling yourself with the right food.

Measuring out small portions of crisps, instead of eating them straight from the bag? Is that REALLY what’s going to help you?? What about finding healthy alternatives for your snacks? Or even better timing your TV with having a proper meal.

Burning extra 350 calories by fidgeting all day?? That’s it. You lost me here. This is so ridiculous; I’m not even going to comment on it.

I’d like you to consider one thing. Would you approach your career the same way? Do you think that half-hearted effort is going to make you successful? Or is it about hard work at the end of the day. And having a plan, taking action and moving towards the goal step by step.

Committed to your success,

 

Ru “The Sculptor” Wikmann


Jun 22, 2012  |  Category: Nutrition

What if I told you that there is a widely accepted theory that guides government policy and affects your life in many ways, but there has been evidence for quite some time that this theory is inherently wrong? But the government just keeps brainwashing people, and it has a serious effect on the already impaired health of the average individual… You’d probably think that they are trying to get rid of you. That’s what it really looks like.

The National Diet and Nutrition Survey finds out that people in the UK are eating less saturated fat than they were 10 years ago, and yet they are more obese. Doesn’t that hint at anything at all?? Researchers examine data from 21 different studies from across the world involving over 350,000 subjects, and there isn’t a shred of evidence that saturated fat is associated with an increase in the risk of either coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease. And still it is the red section on food labels.

Avoiding saturated fat has been the cornerstone of “official” dietary advice for years, based on the assumptions that it increases the risk for heart disease, (not true), that it raises cholesterol (sometimes true but fairly irrelevant) and that cholesterol in turn is a solid marker for the risk of heart disease (very far from true).

Meanwhile this misinformation has guided our food choices for decades. The food companies jumped on it, pushing margarine as a substitute for butter, and “healthy” oils like soybean, sunflower, and corn oil as replacements for saturated fat. We now know that this has contributed to the massive imbalance between omega-6’s and omega-3’s in the diet, which in turn contributed mightily to the epidemic of inflammation we’re now seeing. And there is a great deal of evidence that inflammation is a far more serious risk factor for heart disease than cholesterol ever was.

Another reason mainstream advice on saturated fats is misguided is that not all sat fats are the same. The chemical structure of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) is shorter in length than other fats, and they’re found in coconut oil and palm kernel oil. MCTs are burned as fuel much more readily than other kinds of fats, which means they’re less likely to join fat stores.

Also confirmed by research is that, when saturated fats are replaced with carbohydrates, the result may be an increase in blood triglycerides and a decrease in HDL (i.e., “good) cholesterol. The combination of high triglycerides with low HDL levels creates a so-called “perfect storm” for heart disease.

However, this doesn’t mean that it’s fine to start your day with a hefty serving of microwaved bacon. Yes, there was a study that found no association between heart disease and the consumption of red meat. However, the study also found that eating processed meats increased the risk of heart disease by 42 percent. And that’s because processed meats also raise the level of blood triglycerides.

The bottom line is – saturated fats have an essential place in your diet, as long as you don’t couple them with high amounts of carbs. What matters most is where are these fats coming from - e.g. non-processed and organic meat, eggs and dairy. Knowledge is power. And it will help you to survive this government’s murder campaign.


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