November 2017 - Ageless In Shape

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Exercise and Nutrition Terminology

What Does It All Mean? An Introduction To Exercise And Nutrition Terminology

Exercise and Nutrition Terminology

Remember the last time you were in a conversation with experts in a field completely unfamiliar to you? For example, a highly experienced medical doctor for 30 years, find himself in conversation with a group of internet marketers, talking about Leads, USP's, Hooks, ROI, PPC, "Squeeze Page" - and you stand there nodding your head and putting on your bravest smile, hoping nobody notice the blank expression on your face. Sounds familiar?

question marks

It doesn't matter who or how highly educated you are. At some point in your life, you will find yourself in a situation where you are in a room full of people from an industry vastly removed from yours, throwing around terms and phrases you never heard before. They may as well be speaking in a foreign language. It either has or will happen to all of us.

This fact started dawning on me as I was writing some of my other posts. I was using terms like training regime, weight training, cardio and "sets & reps" etc. These are the most basic terms used in the health & fitness industry, so surely everyone should know what it means?

This assumption is probably as relatable as me standing in a room full of hedge fund managers, where the most basic of sentences they use, will be as understandable to me as trying to read ancient hieroglyphics off an ancient wall. This brings to the reason for this article.

I am going to presume that most readers are unfamiliar with even the most basic terms in the health & fitness industry, and start with a list of the terms I have and will use in the future. Obviously this is just a starting point and the list will grow and evolve, either in this article or a follow-up. For readers already familiar with most of these terms, I am not trying to be condescending at all. I just want everyone to be on the same page as we travel through this journey of getting and staying in shape.

Let us start with the "exercise part" and take it from there:

Exercise Terminology

workout

Exercise Program (Training Regime, Workout Program): This is the collective term describing a whole series of exercises, which in turn consist of a certain amount of sets and repetitions of specific movements to train a combination of muscle groups.

Rep (Repetition): The process of lifting and lowering a weight once. (For example, one bicep curl consists of holding a weight in your hand, and curling it up towards your shoulders before lowering it all the way down again.)
Set: The amount of reps (repetitions) you do of a specific exercise (movement).

Let me illustrate with an example. You are instructed to do an exercise, consisting of 4 sets wit 10 reps per set. This simply means you have to do 10 repetitions of certain movement (exercise), rest for a certain of period, and do another 10 repetitions. You repeat this 4 times (4 sets).

Cardio (Aerobic / Cardiovascular Exercise): In general it refers to any activity that significantly increase heart rate and respiration. It usually involves your major muscle groups and is done in a constant and rhythmic way, ranging from low to high intensity. It also normally doesn't require any big external force. Walking, jogging, running, as well as swimming and cycling are typical examples of aerobic exercises.

Resistance (Weight) Training: This activity involves the use of an external force in the form of weights to provide resistance to the natural movement of a muscle. This exercise stimulates the muscle directly and force it to adapt, strengthen and grow. Don’t let the name, "weights" fool you though. Yes, it can be physical weights like dumbbells or barbells, but it can also be dedicated exercise machines or even you own body to us as resistance and effectively train a muscle or muscle group. Hence the term, resistance training.

Obviously you get exercises that incorporates both types of training, sometimes with great results. (One discipline that immediately comes to mind is crossfit. There is no greater example of combining cardio and weight training exercises. I have yet to see one crossfit athlete that is not in great shape. I will be the first to admit I don't have the time, energy or guts to participate in demanding sport, but really admire those who do.)

I've wondered way off topic now, but you get the general idea. I will get more specific, explaining different exercises, equipment, weights and related terms in future posts.

There are quite a few terms when it comes to diet and nutrition that are unfamiliar, misunderstood or even misrepresented. Here are a few explanations that will hopefully help to clear up any confusion.

Nutrition

nutrition

Before moving on to nutrition, I just need to point out that when looking at exercise programs, it's important to note that some programs take a holistic approach (meaning it incorporates a diet or nutritional plan with the physical exercise program), while other programs just focus on the physical aspect of the training regime.

If you have read any of my other articles about getting in shape, you will know by now that your diet plays just as an important part (if not more) as the different physical exercises you perform.

The important point I am trying to make, is that I personally find it very important for any comprehensive exercise program to have at the very least, some kind of guide or reference to a relevant nutritional guide or diet plan. I don't expect every program to include its own complete diet plan to follow. But since nutrition plays such a vital role, I would expect any program or regime to at least point any participant in the right direction when it comes to following an appropriate diet plan.

Ok, I finished adding my two cents. Let's have a look at some relevant nutritional terms.

Nutrition: Yes, the irony is not lost on me, having to explain the very term I've been using so often and are the heading of this section. But specifically, since this term is used so often and sometimes loosely, is it important that we know exactly what it means.

I did some research, as I honestly had some difficulty explaining it in words, knowing its complexity and far-reaching effects. In all seriousness, it seems most definitions seem to oversimplify its definition.

Cambridge Dictionary defines it as follows; "the substances that you take into your body as food and the way that they influence your health" - Not a bad explanation, but not nearly as detailed as I would have liked.

I kept on searching but could not find any satisfactory definition among online dictionaries and related sources. Then I stumbled across Wikipedia's definition. Although Wikipedia is known and respected as a source of up-to-date information, it seems it is pretty good at defining terms as well.

It describes nutrition as "the science that interprets the interaction of nutrients and other substances in food in relation to maintenance, growth, reproduction, health and disease of an organism. It includes food intake, absorption, assimilation, biosynthesis, catabolism and excretion".

Yes, it is a very detailed (and maybe confusing) explanation, but have a look at it again. It makes sense and illustrates exactly how important it is and how what you consume, interacts with so many functions in your body on so many different levels.

Diet: Sometimes mistakenly used as a substitute for nutrition. It is more specifically a designed or prescribed selection of food to either improve a person's physical condition or prevent some disease or disorder. For our purpose we will use it in the context of changing a person's physical condition. (It is just important to note that diet or diet plan does NOT refer to the misconceived practice of severely restricting any food intake in order to lose weight quickly.)

Protein: Considered to be essential for human growth and proper bodily function, proteins are organic compounds, consisting of amino acids which are the important building blocks of muscle. Not only muscle, but also bone, skin and a variety of other important bodily functions depend on protein for proper growth and maintenance. Specific example include meat, milk, eggs and beans.

Carbohydrates: Technically defined as a nutrient consisting of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, and in most cases are produced by green plants in its natural form. The important part for us is to note that it is mainly converted and used by the body as energy. Specific examples include potatoes, rice, sweet potatoes, wheat and wheat derived products.

Fibre: Substance (e.g. cellulose, lignin and pectin) found mostly in fruits and vegetable, and passes through the body indigested where it plays a vital role in food digestion and helping it pass through the body relatively quickly. Also found in brown bread and other seed based products. Sometimes more commonly known as "roughage" used to promote colon health.

Fat: We all have a general idea what fat is, but it needs to be defined a little more to explain it properly. It is one of the 3 major food sources (along with proteins and carbohydrates) consumed by humans. Technically it is called triglycerides, which are esters of 3 fatty acid chains and the alcohol, glycerol. (Just in case you wanted to know.)

Fats can be divided into external and internal fats. External fat are obtained from both plant and animal sources. Contrary to some popular believe, certain fats are actually essential for the body to function properly. Essential fatty acids found in certain plant derivatives like flax seed and meat derivatives like Omega-3 fatty acids from salmon, play an important part in heart and brain function, as well as supporting a healthy immune system.

Inside your body, fat is mainly stored to be used as a source of energy. Additionally, it plays a secondary important function, as it can be found around your organs and underneath your skin, providing a layer of protection and insulation from external fluctuation in temperature. 

I know it's just a few terms and not even a drop in the bucket of all the terms available for explanation. It covers the absolute basics though, so that it will enable you to better understand articles using these terms and the context in which they are used.

Now is your chance to find out more about the term you need an explanation for. Simply drop me your term or list of terms in the comment section below. I am the process of compiling a much more comprehensive a list of terms for a future article. I will be more than happy to add any suggestions you may have to the list.

Until next time, if you haven't yet, seriously start considering getting your feet wet with some exercise programs. I have compiled and are recommending a few "starter programs" for you in this article. Go and have a look!

As always, feel free to leave me a comment or suggestion, and remember to join my  mailing list  to get informed whenever a new article is released, as well as helpful hints & tips and news on new developments.

See you in the next article!

Wessel

Cardio and Weight Training

Cardio Vs Resistance Training: Which Is Best For Getting Into Shape?

Cardio and Weight Training

Hitting the treadmill or hitting the weights for 40 minutes? Now there is one question that will get you into hot water, no matter which stand you take.

There is no doubt that both are very healthy and effective ways of exercising and obtaining a healthy lifestyle. Just remember however, we are talking about getting into shape. Now this will obviously mean losing fat for most people, while obtaining a toned or even muscular look at the same time.

Cardio

Even in this context, there is a huge percentage of people swearing by cardiovascular exercise (aerobics) as the best means of burning calories and loosing fat. Although this fact is not disputed and already proven, when it comes to getting into overall shape, it falls short of of the benefits provided by resistance (weight) training for a few reasons.

The most obvious one is that cardio raises your heart rate and do exercise most muscle groups to some extent. Unfortunately it does not put sufficient stress on your muscle groups in order to facilitate real change in your body composition. Even the argument that weight training does little to improve overall fitness, has been debunked by the recent tendency of resistance trainers to dramatically reduce the amount of rest between exercise, promoting a good deal of cardiovascular fitness in the process. The difference and advantage of resistance training runs a lot deeper though.

Let's first look at the body's ability to burn calories

One study revealed that after 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise, your body's metabolism is raised for 2-3 hours. If you do weight training with the same amount of intensity, your metabolism is raised substantially and stay elevated for up to 38 hours! This means you are still actively burning calories (and fat) more than a day after your exercise. (Some studies even claim much longer periods of elevated metabolism, but let me stay conservative to keep perspective.)

But what is the reason or proof for this phenomena? After a 30 minute cardiovascular session, your metabolism needs to slow down along with your heart-rate, some recovery needs to take place and that is why you still burn calories hours after your workout.

weights

Here is where the difference with weight training comes into effect. With vigorous weight training, some healthy muscle damage (micro tears in the muscle fiber) occurs. When your body starts recovering, it needs to do a lot more than just recover from the exercise itself. It also needs to restore and rebuild muscle tissue. The latter may take up to 48 hours or more (according to some studies) for a muscle to completely recuperate. During the bulk of this time your body needs energy for this process, which means it is still burning calories (fat).

In other words, you are not just burning fat for a longer period of time, but also sustaining or gaining lean muscle tissue. This need NOT be a concern for my female readers or men wishing not to look like a bodybuilder. This will not happen. Your muscles will simply look firmer and more toned. (A different approach to the type of weight training, as well as changes in your diet are required in order to build serious muscle.)
This ties in nicely with the next advantage of weight training I would like to address:

Lean Body Muscle and Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

I must be very honest here. Until recently, I was completely oblivious myself of this scientific finding and the theory behind it. It makes perfect sense once explained though.

Let us start off with Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). What exactly is it and why is it important?

In essence, your BMR is the rate at which your body is consuming energy when in a completely rested state and you do nothing but breathe. Basically, when you are lying in your bed fast asleep is the perfect example. To calculate this rate, your body's lean muscle mass is taken into consideration, which is represented by your muscles, bones and organs.

Here is where it becomes very relevant and interesting. It has been determined that the more lean muscle you are carrying, the higher your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), and therefore the amount of calories (fat) you are able to burn. This means that muscle tissue is considered to be fairly stable (provided sufficient exercise and nutrition is provided), and therefore has proven to be a very sufficient long-term strategy for burning fat.

Since one of the primary benefits of weight training is gaining lean muscle, this added benefit becomes very relevant and important, especially when burning fat is your main goal.

In summary, I will restate my original observation that both forms of exercise are very efficient and helps promoting a healthy lifestyle. I am not "choosing sides" at all as to which is the better one overall. To prove my point, it is very well known fact that most bodybuilders (who obviously fall in the weight training camp) do extensive cardiovascular exercise shortly before a competition in order to remove that last layer of stubborn fat.

On a side note, this is why most professional competitors involved with crossfit workouts and competitions, are usually very muscular and lean. Both purely cardiovascular exercise, weight training and a combination of both are used in this discipline. It requires a lot of time, hard work and a LOT of nutrition. I have the world of respect for these athlete, but it is definitely not something will recommend for anyone who just wants to get into shape…

And there you have it. I know this topic is a hotly contested one, and there is more than enough room for arguments from both sides. However, if getting and staying in shape is your ultimate goal, resistance (weight) training wins this round fairly easily.

As always, feel free to leave me a comment or suggestion, and remember to join my  mailing list  to get informed whenever a new article is released, as well as helpful hints & tips and news on new developments.

Until next time, don't give that dumbbell such a skeptical look…

Wessel

Five questions to get in shape

Are You Ready To Get Into Shape? – Answer These 5 Questions To Find Out

Five questions to get in shape

Let me start out by stating the following fact: No matter what your gender or age, you CAN get and stay in shape. This has been proven scientifically many times over. As long as you are physically healthy, there is nothing holding you back.

My reason for starting off with this bold statement, is that too many people are being held back by myths and misconceptions. (Read my full article addressing this issue here). If I had my own wish, I would love to convince and motivate everyone to adopt this lifestyle with all its numerous health benefits, as I experienced it myself and know so many other people of all walks of life who are experiencing the same  numerous benefits.

Having said that, I realize that not everyone may be ready or able to commit to it right now for a variety of reasons. This does NOT mean you will not be ready at some point in the future, so please, never dispose of this idea completely. 

Enough talk, lets get to the questions...

1)  Is your "Getting Into Shape" a realistic goal?

magazines

Yes I know, it sounds like a rhetorical question to ask, but let me explain. Many people have an unrealistic image of what "being in shape" means and therefore, what they must strive for. The perfect figure of the bikini fitness model on the cover of "Shape" Magazine and the incredible muscular physique of the bodybuilder on  the cover of "Muscle & Fitness" is NOT a reflection of reality. (I cover this misrepresentation here.) 

This does not mean you cannot obtain that trimmed midsection and six-pack, or obtain that muscular look you've seen on the cover of your favorite bodybuilding magazine. The trouble with that, is if this image becomes your ultimate goal, and you are not willing to settle for anything less, you may actually be sabotaging yourself.  And once you've given up chasing an impossible dream, it is that much harder to start again.

I know not everyone is going to agree with me, and I know I said it before, but I will keep on saying it until it sinks in. The ONLY person you should be competing against is yourself. As long as you keep beating the person in the mirror from yesterday, you ARE making progress. And if you keep on beating this person week in week out, year in year out, I promise you: You will be very happy and satisfied with what you see in that mirror. You may even end up surpassing any goals you have set for yourself. 

2)  Are you willing to commit?

commit

Getting in shape, essentially requires 2 very important elements: Time and Consistency. Period! Every other requirement plays a role as well, but none as important as these 2 elements.

Unfortunately this not the type of activity where you can reach your  goal by pouring all your energy and effort into the first few weeks, and then take off for a the next week or two. Just as is the case with food and sleep, you need a fixed schedule to stick to to get positive results. 

In order for you to either burn fat, tone or build muscles and get fitter/stronger, you need to exercise consistently.  After each workout, you should give your body just enough time to rest and recover before exercising again. Doing this continuously month after month is the only way to reach your goal. It can take 6 weeks or even 3 months, but you WILL see results. The biggest "secret" and requirement, is that you keep doing it consistently.  

(It may be difficult in the beginning, but I promise you it gets easier over time, especially when you start seeing results. It also doesn't mean you cannot take off for a week approximately every 3-6 months. Even take it easier for a week or two when you feel fatigued, but just keep going.)

So be honest and ask yourself if you're willing to commit the time and effort, EVEN when you don't feel like it.

3)  Are you willing to set aside a specific amount of time each week?

Time

Yes, I know it is sometimes very hard to find "spare" time. Especially as you progress into your adult life, demands on your time do take its toll, The increase in hours spend at work, family commitments, especially after children arrives on the scene - all takes a bit more time away from your already "full schedule".

However, you may be surprised to find out that you only need 90 minutes of exercise per week (or three 20 minute sessions) to stay in shape.  If you really need an excuse not to be able to find this relatively small amount of time, you may want to rethink how serious you really are about getting is shape.

4)  Are you willing to make small changes to your diet?

nutrition

Let's just get one thing straight out of the way. You do and must NOT starve yourself at any stage in order to get in shape. (You can read more about it here) You should never be left feeling hungry.

Small changes mean you may have to stop or drastically reduce certain foods that are very detrimental to your goal and health. It also means that you may have to increase or decrease certain types of food like protein or carbohydrates. (You can read more about nutrition and exercise in this article)

5)  Can you stop making excuses?

excuses

One interesting observation I made through the years: If someone really doesn't want to do something, they will always be able to find an excuse not to it, and it will be valid excuse. When that same person desperately wants to indulge in some time consuming activity he/she really loves, miraculously the time needed for it somehow becomes available. (Yes, I am just as guilty as anyone else).

This simply means that, if you really need to find an excuse not to start getting in shape despite overwhelming evidence, then you definitely are not ready. Not in any shape, form or size - to be brutally honest.

And there you have it. Five Questions that will help you decide how ready you are to make that commitment. It is a guideline, and not the "Ten Commandments", but should steer you in the right direction.

If you feel ready to get started and need some guidance,  I am introducing you to some workout programs I can wholeheartedly recommend in this article.

As always, feel free to leave me a comment or suggestion, and remember to join my  mailing list  to get informed whenever a new article is released, as well as helpful hints & tips and news on new developments.

See you in the next post!

Wessel


Food for Exercise

Nutrition and Exercise: Eating The Right Food To Stay Fit And In Shape

Food for Exercise

What you choose to eat when trying to get into shape, is more than important. It is essential to choose the right diet to accompany your exercise program.

Let's first have a look at some of the most popular "diets" or nutritional plans available today. I am just listing them, as explaining each one will literally take days and a thousand pages. (For a detailed explanation of each diet, follow this link.)

1.  Atkins diet
2.  The Zone diet

3.  The Paleo Diet
4.  Ketogenic diet

5.  Vegetarian diet
6.  Vegan diet

protein

I will just comment by saying that these diets cannot be more diverse and contradicting each other more vigorously. 

Proponents of some of these diets believe in it so strongly, that they will almost defend it to the death and refuse to even consider another point of few.

Let me first make it clear that I am NOT agreeing or disagreeing with any of the principles these diets are based on.

I do, however, disagree with certain elements of some of these diets, the reasons for which will become clear through the course of this article. I will be focusing on 3 areas where I believe a lot of confusion exists.

Before getting to those areas, I need to make one statement, which just happens to be a fact:

NO diet or nutritional plan can or will be successful without being used in conjunction with an effective exercise routine.

Let me be blunt. You can be on the the perfect diet tailored to your specific body type and metabolism. But you will not get the results you are looking for by sitting on the couch while doing it.

You may lose weight (not necessarily fat), if that is your aim. But you know that "flabby look" that are so common with people relying on just dieting? Well, you are well on your way. And if you are trying to gain weight, you definitely may reach your goal. It will just be in the form of fat, not muscle!

I know many of you may dislike what I just said, and I hate to be the bearer of "bad" news. But if you want to reach your goal, you need to get off your butt and a break a sweat. And you know what? You may actually end up enjoying it, and start experiencing all the other benefits of exercising / working out.

With that out of the way, let's get to the 3 areas I trust will help guide you in this maze of contradicting information and ideas. Remember, these are guidelines, and should be used as just that. Your own body may have its own specific requirements which may differ vastly from these guidelines.

1) Eat according to your body type

Nutrition And Body Types

I discussed the 3 main body types you can be classified into in a previous article, so I will not go into a detailed explanation here. (You can read the article here.) You can use this classification as a rough guideline to help you determine how to adjust your diet.

Before getting to the specific body types though, there is one nutritional component I recommend for ALL body types. That component being protein. I cannot stress its importance enough, and many of you may see this as common knowledge. You will be surprised how many people are oblivious to this fact, and may knowingly or unknowingly be seriously neglecting sufficient protein intake in their diets.

Proper protein intake is not just necessary for healthy muscle and bone formation, but also essential for numerous other processes in the body to function properly. I am not going to get involved in a debate about what specific type of protein to consume. There are too many schools of thought and too many diets propagating different proteins. That is a topic for another discussion, and I would like to stick to the the subject of this article.

Just remember, whichever body type I am discussing, protein intake is an important part that can be seen as being part of each body type by default. Let's get to these body types…

a) The Ectomorph

As you are already carrying very little body fat and your goal is most probably to gain muscle, your aim should be to protect the muscle you already have. In addition to maintaining your muscle, you should also eat enough protein to fuel muscle growth when following a vigorous training program.

Due to the increase in energy demands, your body may require more nutrients to "burn" than you are consuming. (Remember, your body uses nutrients as fuel to meet its energy demands.) As a result, your body may start using muscle tissue for energy, the last thing you want to take place.

Increasing your carbohydrate intake, especially before and directly after your workouts will help to prevent this from happening. Don't be afraid to experiment a little with the amount of carbohydrate intake when starting out. Your body type allows you to get rid of excess fat relatively quickly, which may form if you consume too much carbohydrates.

(Remember, when I talk about carbohydrates, I talk about healthy complex carbohydrates. I will be discussing carbohydrates in more detail in the next part of this article.)

b) The Mesomorph

Your body type allows you to have a more balanced diet. Depending on your goal, whether you want to maintain a toned body, gain some muscle or obtain a more defined body, your nutritional requirements my vary.

As usual, I always recommend a fairly high protein intake (especially if building muscle is your goal). You may want to increase your carbohydrate intake if you follow a very intense workout regime, to help cope with your body's energy demands.

I need to caution you here though. It is very easy to overcompensate by consuming too much carbohydrates. Excess carbohydrates may be stored as fat, and due to your body type, it can be a bit more difficult to get rid of than you think. While you may be able to build muscle more quickly, the ectomorph has the upper hand when it comes to burning fat.

c) The Endomorph

With you bigger bone structure and natural tendency to carry more fat, your nutritional requirements differ quite substantially from other body types.

I know it may be a bit of a generalisation, but if you have this body type, chances are you are carrying an excess amount of fat, and most probably one of your main goals is to tone down and lose that fat.

Obviously, whatever your diet, it should be used in conjunction with a high intensity exercise regime. As with the other body types, a sufficient amount of protein is recommended. Here however, I will recommend not going overboard, even with protein consumption. Remember, your body converts nutrition into energy. This means if your protein intake is too high, it may slow down or even stop your body's ability to dip into your fat storage and use it as energy.

For the same reason you should be extremely weary of carbohydrates. If you get sufficient nutrition through protein and other nutritional sources, you should really try and keep carbohydrates to a minimum.

This does NOT mean you must starve yourself at all. You should never find yourself feeling hungry (I am addressing this misconception in this article). Make sure you eat sufficient protein, vegetables and fiber reach foods to meet your nutritional needs. You don't need to completely avoid carbohydrates, but just limit its intake as much as possible.

I have just given a rough overview on how to use your body type as a guide to adapt and adjust your diet. Please note that this a very rough guide, and the actual interaction between body and nutrition is a lot more complex.

2) Energy Sources: Fats and Carbohydrates

Fats and Carbohydrates

As I already mentioned, your body needs to burn calories (in the form of nutrition or fat stored in your body) to be used as energy. When your nutritional intake is not sufficient to support your body’s energy demands, it will turn to fat storage in your body to use as fuel. This may be exactly what you want if you are trying to loose fat.

In a lot of instances though, you need all your energy to come from your nutritional intake. This is especially true if you want to gain muscle and already have a low fat percentage. Here you want to avoid your body using its own tissue as a source of energy at all costs.

This is where things become very divisive and controversial. Depending on which school of thought you subscribe to, things really goes from the one extreme to the other. Some diets advocate you should stick to protein and vegetable intake only, and all energy should be derived from the natural carbohydrates and nutrients already present in these foods. Other diets advocate a moderate to higher carbohydrate intake to make sure your energy demands are met. On the other side of the scale, you get your more “extreme” and controversial diets. They subscribe to the philosophy that apart from your protein intake, all your energy should be derived from the consumption of fat. In some cases, you are actually given cart blanch, where you are free to eat as much fat as you want to meet your energy and nutritional needs. (I think we all know which diet I am revering to.)

I already discussed the intake of carbohydrates, so I do not need to add to it here. I feel the issue of fat needs to be addressed however.

First though, I want to be clear about one fact that has be thoroughly proven scientifically. Fats are essential for healthy body function, especially in promoting a strong immune system. The fat found in fish oil (especially salmon) is very rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, which are important for proper brain function, as well as supporting a healthy cardiovascular system.

Other fats derived from foods such as nuts, avocados and olives (also called monounsaturated fats), have numerous health benefits. These include improving cardiovascular and blood-pressure function, and even plays a role in the control of diabetes.

Even the fat that can be found in and around meat and other animal products, may assist in fulfilling additional energy requirements, especially for low endurance exercise.

Fat becomes a problem though, when it is used for the soul purpose of providing energy to the body. Instead of carbohydrates or another form of nutritional supplementation, fat is used in large quantities to fulfil this role.

Here I need to caution you to be very careful. I honestly feel I will not be doing my duty if I don’t point out the dangers of this practice. Although I am not denying that this diet may have advantages, a lot of research still has to be done to determine how the benefits and dangers stack up against each other.

Fat consumed with the intent of being used as a substitute to provide the body with energy, is one of the easiest nutrients to be added to your body's natural fat storage. Fat stored in the body in turn, is also a lot more difficult to get rid of, as many of you already know.

The health dangers of consuming large quantities of fat are quite numerous. Its negative effect on blood pressure and cholesterol has already been well documented. In turn, this have a direct effect on cardiovascular health. Left unchecked, taking in more fat that can be used as energy, will inevitably lead to some degree of obesity. The dangers of obesity and its negative effect on heart health and diseases like diabetes are well known and documented.

I will leave the final decision over to you on whether you choose to follow such a diet plan. I just feel very uncomfortable to endorse you to go down this slippery slope.

I briefly covered ways in which you can use theses 3 body type classifications to adjust your diet for better results. I will encourage you to do your own research as well, but in a nutshell, the information you just read, should help guide you in the right direction.

We now move on to the part of nutrition that has been the source of numerous debates, disagreements and completely contrasting beliefs.

3) Carbohydrates: Friend or Foe?

Carbohydrates

I honestly feel sorry for the poor carbohydrate… It is properly the most scrutinized, criticized and researched nutrient of all. It’s either loved or despised, depending on who you talk to. Also, the type of sporting activity a person is involved in plays a huge part in the attitude towards carbohydrates.

I already made my own position regarding carbohydrates, very clear. I honestly believe carbohydrates has its place and remains an important part of any nutritional plan combined with an effective exercise regime. The amount you consume though, may vary by quite some margin, depending on a lot of factors, some of which I already discussed.

Having said that, I need to point out 2 important issues that needs clarifying:

a) Types of Carbohydrates

b) Timing and Carbohydrates

a) Types of Carbohydrates

When I refer to carbohydrates, I refer to your healthy, or complex carbohydrates. Carbohydrates can be divided into 2 groups. Simple and complex carbohydrates.Simple carbohydrates are mostly refined forms of carbohydrates. These include sugary drinks, sweets (chocolates, candy bars etc.) and ice-cream to mention a few. Staple food like bread and breakfast cereals also falls within this category.

The problem with simple carbohydrates is that it gets processed by the body very quickly, which results in many unwanted situations. For starters, because it get processed so quickly, it can be stored as fat before your body gets the chance to use it as energy.

It also causes a spike in insulin levels. This means if you eat a lot of simple carbohydrates throughout the day, the sudden spike and drop in insulin levels plays havoc on your energy levels. The constant tired and exhausted feeling experienced by people who are guilty of this practice, are quite common.

On a much more serious note, the abuse of these carbohydrates, combined with the resulting weight gain, and the havoc it causes with your insulin levels, have been directly linked to serious diseases like diabetes. It is also closely tied with cardiovascular disease and quite a few other serious disorders.

Complex carbohydrates, are mostly used in their original form. Rice, potatoes and sweet-potatoes fall within this category. The reason they are considered to be the healthier alternative, is that the body takes much longer to absorb this type of carbohydrate. It also provides a longer and sustained release of energy. This gives your body more time to process it and use it as energy.

So, the advantages of using complex carbohydrates in combination with an effective workout are very clear. I don’t need to even go into the health benefits, compared to simple carbohydrates. I think you get the idea.

b) Timing of Carbohydrates

To maximize the advantages of carbohydrates and minimize its disadvantages, when you take your carbohydrates is just if not more important than the amount of carbohydrates you take. 

Remember, the main reason you are eating carbohydrates is not just to provide you with sufficient energy when exercising. It is also to make sure your body is not dipping into your muscle tissue “reserves” due to lack of proper nutrition.

In general, there are two time slots during the day that is best suited to focus on your carbohydrate intake. That is before and directly after your workout. Obviously working out on a full stomach is not an option, so take that meal at least 2 hours or more before your workout. You may even have to give yourself more time, depending on how fast or slow your digestive system is.

Your second carbohydrate rich meal should be immediately after your workout session. Your body is now in serious need of recovering and rebuilding your muscle tissue that has been broken down during the workout. Taking carbohydrates in combination with a fast acting protein supplement, will help your insulin levels to spike, making it more susceptible to the absorption of protein.

The exact time will depend on when your workout is, but you now have a good idea as to how to space your carbohydrate intake in relation with your workout.

One last important point about the timing of your carbohydrate intake: If possible, never eat carbohydrates immediately before going to bed. Your body goes into a resting a mode and will not be burning calories and turn it into energy. The result will be that these excess calories will most probably be stored as fat.

The exception to this rule, will be if you train first thing in the morning (as discussed earlier this article). Obviously in this case, the only realistic time to take your carbohydrates, is before going to bed. One way of assisting the process, is to make sure that you take some protein with your evening meal. That way the absorption of your nutrients get slowed down, which means you still have enough energy left in your system when you start your workout.

It’s not the ideal solution, but it does work. (I follow this procedure and it works well for me. Trust me, if I didn’t take carbohydrates the night before my workout, I can really feel it, and it really is a battle getting through that session!)

I Hope you gained some more insight into how to structure and adjust your diet for the best possible results. I know there is a lot more detail to discuss, but I think this a good overview to help you get the basics right.

In future posts, I will point you to some helpful nutritional guides and recipes that will suite your requirements and give you tasty alternatives.

(By the way, I trust you have started your workout regime by now. If not, why not? Read my article where I introduce you to a few very effective exercise programs to start with here.)

As always, feel free to leave me a comment or suggestion, and remember to join my  mailing list  to get informed whenever a new article is released, as well as helpful hints & tips and news on new developments.

Until next time, enjoy experimenting with your diet!

Wessel

Choosing Your First Workout Program To Start Getting Your Body In Shape

get ready to work out

I know the feeling. You already have all the information you need, and want to dive straight into getting in shape right away. And to be honest, you're right. The best way to learn and get to your goal fast, is to just START! You can make adjustments or even change your routine as you go along and learn what works for you. Don't worry, I'll keep you informed and help guide throughout your journey and constantly add helpful content. Let's get started: 

The following exercise programs are the only ones I can confidently recommend at the moment. One I have been following myself, and the other I know to work just as well and has thoroughly proven itself. (I know your time is valuable, so I cannot in good conscious recommend something I haven’t participated in myself, or know through research and trusted resources, to be good enough to comfortably recommend).

I only have 2 requests before continuing. I enjoy writing these posts, providing you with as much information as possible and helping you in reaching your goals. Writing these posts takes time, effort and research though. The only thing I ask in return, is that you support me by following the links I provide on these pages. In that way you are supporting me and helping me to continue writing these posts and provide you with as much information as possible to keep you informed.

Secondly, regarding this post specifically: If you are over 35 and haven’t been physically active for more than a year, please go for quick physical check-up at your general practitioner. I still have a lot to share with you in future articles, but I need you to be healthy in order to do so. I understand the enthusiasm and eagerness to get started, but your health comes first!

Let's look at the programs: There is nothing exceptional about them. No revealing some “secret to overnight success” and no “magical supplement that will make lose fat and gain muscle while you sleep”. You will not get the the perfect body in 3 weeks. You will not lose 20 pounds in a month. You will not look like a professional bodybuilder in the same period of time.

You WILL have to do some exercise, and do it consistently. You MUST be willing to make some minor changes to your diet. You will not be able to take some magic supplement every day, and sit back and eat what you want, while your body is transformed into a toned and muscular piece of art.

If you are still reading, I am quite convinced you are indeed serious and committed to getting in shape, and really willing to do something about it. So, here is the good news…

These programs cut right through all the myths and misconceptions, promoted by some “exercise & fitness gurus” and mainstream muscle and fitness industry (read my article about these myths and misconceptions here). They are designed for real people, with training routines and nutritional plans that actually DO work, and have been proven over and over again, and stood the test of time.

And here is the best part:

1- They save you hours per week in the gym (or wherever you are working out).
2- You are NOT limited by age (even people in their sixties and seventies are getting remarkable results).

So here they are:

Old School New Body

This by far the best complete program I ever came across. This is the exercise program I started following after my ordeal with cancer (read my story). It not only helped me get back into shape in record time, it also set me on the path to living a healthy lifestyle.

My biggest reasons for recommending this so strongly, is that it not only saves you a lot of time, it is also aimed at men and women of ALL ages. The authors of this program are both over 50 years old, with the main author being the editor of a major bodybuilding magazine for more than 20 years.

I am not going to explain it in detail, as they have a whole article explaining every detail before introducing their program. I am still using this system today at age 46 as my own training regime. I only made minor changes to some exercises and nutritional requirements to better suite my own specific body. Enough said!

I would have preferred that everyone starts with my first recommendation, as it is such a complete and effective program to lay the foundation for your development. However, there may be a quite a few of you who already made a start and have been working out for a while. Especially for you I can recommend my next 2 favorite workout plans:

Bigger Leaner Stronger

This program has exactly the same goal as my first recommendation. It is also aimed at getting men and women of all ages to get in shape. There is some variation in the types of exercises. They also differ a bit when it comes to nutrition and have a slightly different approach. 

The biggest different however, is in the the intensity of this system and the discipline required. In general, as beginner, you may find it a bit tough to stick to the strict exercise and diet plan, as it does not provide as much leeway as “Old School New Body) in terms of adjusting at your own pace. If you are pressed for time, this book subscribes to workouts lasting approximately one hour, so just take that into account when choosing a workout-program. 

I just don’t want you to be overwhelmed and putt off, as I am trying to encourage everyone to create a lifestyle, not a short-term solution. One other difference, is that this program is aimed more towards men and their more specific requirements. Which brings me to its sister-book:

Thinner Leaner Stronger

Written by the same author, and basically exactly the same as its cousin, “Bigger Leaner stronger”, this program only differs from the former, as its aimed at women more specifically and their unique physical requirements. Apart from this difference, the basics of these 2 systems are same. Therefore, my comments and concerns are exactly the same.

Please don’t get me wrong, I wholeheartedly recommend these last 2 exercise programs, and it’s perfectly suited for beginners as well. I just feel that if you’re over 35 or starting from scratch, “Old School New Body” may be an easier way to get your feet wet.

And there you have it. No more excuses (just kidding). You can visit these links and decide for yourself which will suite you best. You can’t go wrong with either one, and they are by no means the only effective systems or training regimes out there, but are one of the best to start out with.

If you are interested, leave me a comment or message, and in future posts I will show you some ways in which you can customize these programs to better suite your body type and nutritional requirements. I will also address methods to “step it up” and get better or more specific results, depending on whether you want to get even leaner or perhaps build more muscle.

As always, feel free to leave me a comment or suggestion, and remember to join my  mailing list  to get informed whenever a new article is released, as well as helpful hints & tips and news on new developments.

In future posts, I will be addressing specific nutritional requirements, adjustments in your training to match your body and discuss a few controversial subjects…

See you in the next post!

Wessel