If you want to up your game, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is an exercise strategy that will improve your performance. HIIT is fantastic for anyone wanting to lose weight, including those who have been working out and have seen little/ no results or those pressed for time and want to achieve a lot in a short space of time. If you’re looking for ripped abs and toned arms, interval training can help get you there – especially if you throw in some weight training sessions. If there is such a thing as a magic bullet for weight loss, then HIIT probably comes closest to it! If your current “steady-state” aerobic exercise regime isn’t working for you, it is probably worthwhile to try HIIT.
HIIT FOR WEIGHT LOSS
HIIT improves performance through short exercise sessions and involves alternating short, fast bursts of intensive exercise with slow, easy activity. An HIIT session involves a warm-up interval, followed by several short, maximum-intensity efforts separated by moderate recovery intervals, and finally a cool-down interval.
Studies have shown this method to be more effective at burning fat and maintaining muscle mass than long periods of lower intensity aerobic workouts. Some studies state that HIIT burns 9x more fat than traditional cardiovascular exercise. HIIT burns a lot of calories during the workout, but where it differs from traditional cardiovascular exercise it that your metabolism stays elevated for more than 24 hours afterwards! This means that you keep burning calories after you have finished exercising. Therefore, don’t bother looking for an HIIT calorie calculator. It is difficult to calculate the calorie burn from HIIT training directly, as much of the effects of HIIT do not take place during the workout, but for hours after. HIIT does not simply instigate weight loss by burning calories, but acts via a complex series of physiological mechanisms (e.g. nervous and endocrine systems) to lower insulin resistance, improve glucose tolerance, increase exercise and post-exercise fat oxidation, and decrease appetite.
Researchers at an Australian University found people who cycled for 40 minutes at a steady pace lost an average of two pounds. A second group cycled just 20 minutes, but alternated between 8 second sprints and 12 seconds of slower riding. They lost an average of six pounds.
However, if you can complete only a short HIIT workout, it may be that you are better off with moderately high intensity cardio that you can sustain steadily for a long time period.
BENEFITS OF HIIT
The key to HIIT is that it does not allow your body to get used to what you are doing, i.e. by changing your pace and pushing yourself through each interval. No matter what your fitness goals are, HIIT can be one of the best methods to help you achieve them. HIIT is a great technique for those who get bored easily and are already active or those who have reached a fat loss plateau.
The variations of HIIT are infinite. You can adjust the training parameters (e.g. ratio of exercise to rest, number of intervals) to make the workouts harder or easier. Generally longer intervals provide better results. The four parameters you can manipulate when designing your interval-training program are:
HIIT TRAINING GUIDELINES
Below is an excerpt from an article written in the LA Times about HIIT.
“… a study published in December in the Journal of Applied Physiology and conducted by a team at Canada’s University of Guelph found that just two weeks of alternate-day interval training increased moderately active 22-year-old women’s fat-burning ability by 36%.“
Ironically, you can’t do the same intervals all the time – you’ll stagnate,” says Drozd, the Santa Monica trainer. “You need variation – for your body and your mind. For best fitness, mix short intervals and long intervals. Whatever you choose to do, do it hard.”
The New Zealand study showed cyclists’ performance gains plateauing after eight to 12 interval sessions. “To keep increasing your fitness after six weeks of intervals,” says OnFitness’ Grassadonia, “be creative: push it even harder or longer, add hills, stairs, cross-training. I’m a 55-year-old big-wave surfer, but I can hang with 20-year-olds because I do very intense 10 mph sprinting on the treadmill, all-out sprints in the pool – constantly mixing it up.”
Many people think about muscle-building nutrition in vague terms of eating more protein and reducing their carbs. The fact is, your nutritional plan needs to be a bit more specific if you want to build muscle quickly without gaining fat.
Yes, you do need to be sure that your macros (ratio of protein, carbs and fats) are on target, but our bodies also need a good supply of specific macronutrients in order to utilize our food for energy and to aid in muscle repair and recovery.
Eating to build muscle is also a three-pronged plan. Eating the right foods is just one aspect. You also need to eat the right foods at the right time and eliminate foods that will interfere with your muscle-building goals.
In this post, I’m going to help you understand and follow the three steps to eating to build muscle. These steps will not only help you build muscle, they’ll also help you to lose excess fat or prevent fat gain (depending on your current body fat ratio).
Step One: Eliminate the Foods That Will Hold You Back
Before you start calculating the protein you need and before you start divvying up your calorie allowance, you need to eliminate any foods that will make those things irrelevant. Even if you’re getting 1800 calories with 40% of them from protein (just as an example), the rest of your diet may work against building muscle. Too much sugar, starch and unhealthy fat will upset your hormonal balances and cause your body to store fat rather than build muscle.
The first thing you need to do is eliminate processed foods. By this I mean get rid of foods containing refined flours, refined sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and unhealthy trans-fats. These foods not only contain too much fat and too many calories, they also throw your insulin levels out of whack and contribute to insulin resistance. What that means is that your cells will have a hard time absorbing glycogen and that glycogen will be stored as fat instead. Not only will you gain fat, but you won’t have enough nutrients to help you build muscle.
Now, this doesn’t mean you have to live without every single treat food. You just need to choose your cheat foods wisely and reserve them as treats instead of eating them daily. If you crave chocolate, a square of dark chocolate is much better than two scoops of chocolate ice cream. If you want a salty snack, go for kale chips or salted almonds instead of French fries or potato chips.
Step Two: Eat Plenty of the Right Foods
Eating to build muscle means getting enough protein, getting the right kinds of carbs and getting enough of the antioxidants and other micronutrients that support hormone balance and muscle growth.
Your body needs a different macro balance for different things. If you have a decent amount of stored fat to lose, you probably need less carbs and fat in your diet. If your fat ratio is fine, you can eat more of these. Regardless, you need to get enough protein to support the growth of new muscle and prevent muscle catabolism (your body’s response to low calories or insufficient protein is to steal it from your muscle cells).
For most women, a diet of 30-40% protein, 40-50% carbs and 10-20% fat is best. You may find that 40-40-20 works for you, while your best friend may do better with 40-50-10. You’ll likely need to play around with those numbers over the course of a couple of months or so to see which formula keeps you satisfied, fuels muscle gain and gives you enough energy.
Protein: Yes, you do need to get enough lean protein to supply your body with the building blocks for new muscle. In general, eating 1-1.5g of protein per pound of body weight is a good rule of thumb, so if you weigh 110 pounds, you should be eating between 110-165g of protein each day. Try to stick with grass-fed and pasture-raised meats like beef, poultry and eggs, supplemented by plant-based proteins in vegetables, beans, quinoa, nuts and seeds.
Carbs: Your body needs carbs to build muscle, but a carb is not a carb. You want to limit or eliminate starchy carbs, like white rice, white potatoes, breads, cereals and so on. This is especially true if you have fat to lose while you’re building muscle.
As a general rule, you need to get about 80-90% of your carbs from vegetables and low-glycemic fruits like apples, pears, plums and melon.
Fats: Don’t even think about trying to cut your fat to drastically-low levels. Your body needs healthy fats to function and healthy fats also aid muscle building and recovery. That said, you need to get your fats from the right sources, mainly grass-fed meats, nuts, seeds, eggs, olives, avocadoes and olive oil and coconut oil.
If you find yourself starving all the time even though you’re getting roughly the right number of calories, you may have to increase your fat intake. Try increasing the amount of animal protein, nuts and seeds in your daily diet and that should take care of any protein and fat deficiency.
In addition to the right combination of macronutrients, you also need to get enough of certain micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants). While you should strive to get a wide variety of micronutrients by eating a wide variety of whole, fresh foods, there are a few micros that are especially important for building lean muscle.
Magnesium and Potassium: Magnesium and potassium increase blood flow and oxygen to muscle cells and are extremely important for muscle building and recovery.
Foods high in magnesium are spinach, quinoa, kidney beans, lentils, bananas and oats. For lots of potassium, be sure to eat white beans, dark, leafy greens, bananas, acorn squash, fresh fish, avocadoes and mushrooms.
CLAs or conjugated linoleic acids: These essential fatty acids are one of the Omega-6 fats and are one of the amino acids your body needs for building muscle. The best sources are grass-fed meats, butter from grass-fed cows and pasture-raised eggs.
Omega-3 fats: Omega-3 fats are extremely important for reducing inflammation and aiding muscle recovery. Your healthiest sources are flax seed, walnuts, salmon and other fatty fish, shrimp, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and winter squash.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is one of your body’s most important antioxidants for repairing muscle and reducing inflammation. Great sources include spinach, almonds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, avocadoes, shellfish, rainbow trout, swordfish, olive oil, broccoli and pumpkin.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is another powerful antioxidant. It not only helps with muscle recovery and repair, it also promotes hormone synthesis and fat loss. Great sources of this multitasking micro include dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, collards and Romaine lettuce, as well as fruits such as berries, apples, watermelon, kiwi and plums. Of these choices, berries, apples and watermelon are the lowest on the glycemic index, so opt for these when your carb allowance is tight.
Glutamine: Your body does make and store some glutamine, which is used to build lean muscle and provide energy, but much of it will be used up during a strenuous workout. Eating grass-fed meats, pasture-raised eggs and poultry, raw spinach, raw parsley and cabbage will help replenish your stores of glutamine.
If you look at this list, you’ll see some of the same foods coming up repeatedly. Try to include these foods as much as possible when planning out your macro allowances. Go for grass-fed meats, pasture-raised eggs and fatty fish when planning out your proteins, avocadoes, olive and coconut oil, walnuts and seeds when portioning out your fats and berries, leafy greens, bananas, apples, broccoli and squash when choosing carbs.
You’ll be getting the right macros and also ensuring that you eat enough of these important micronutrients as well.
Step Three: Eating the Right Foods at the Right Time
Eating to build muscle also requires that you get the right nutrients at the right time.
As a general rule, you should get some healthy fats with every meal and snack, as healthy fats slow the absorption of carbs, aid in the absorption of vitamins, help you feel satisfied and prevent cravings.
It’s also a good idea to get some protein with every meal or snack, but protein is especially important at certain times during your day. Eating protein when you first wake up helps to replenish the protein stores that were utilized for muscle recovery while you were sleeping. You also need a good protein boost before you work out, to prevent muscle catabolism during a strenuous session. You should have some protein right after you work out as well, again to replenish what your workout has used up. Sticking with protein snacks (instead of carbs) late at night will help fuel muscle recovery during sleep.
Timing your carbs properly is also very important. Get a decent amount of carbs in the morning to help give you energy for your day and break your carb fast. You also need some fast-acting carbs like berries, bananas and melon right after your workout to replenish energy stores. Also, you want to try to eat your higher-glycemic carbs (grains and sugary fruits) early in the day (when they’re likely to be burned off) and as a post-workout treat. Stick to low-glycemic carbs like veggies from late afternoon onward; you’re less likely to need them for energy and more likely to store them as fat.
The great thing about eating to build muscle (aside from building that sexy muscle!) is that you’re able to eat plenty of food. As long as you fill up on plenty of the good stuff and limit the bad (or less good) stuff to occasional treats, you’ll be able to eat well and still lose fat.
The effect of Low carb diets on Testosterone has been heavily researched over the past few decades and there's clear evidence as to what the direct effect is.
When we look at all this info together it appears that extended LC diets (7-days of restriction) result in lower basal levels of Testosterone, but that training induced changes in Testosterone aren't significantly impacted by LC diets.
This means that LC diets may not directly reduce your "post-workout" anabolic window or response, but it can reduce your baseline anabolic environment.
When looking at the big picture, it may be that long-term reduced basal levels of Testosterone due to LC diets can impact your ability to make long-term muscle gains, especially when it's coupled with elevated levels of cortisol.
Cortisol is the number one enemy Enemy for LC Diets. Cortisol is released from the adrenal glands to mobilize amino acids from tissues (primarily muscle) to increase the availability of glucose through gluconeogenesis, making cortisol catabolic.
In the context of training, cortisol is released during high-intensity, anaerobic exercise to maintain normal glucose levels. The amount of glycogen you've stored directly impacts the release of exercise-induced cortisol. The more glycogen you have stored, the less cortisol is released, and the less glycogen you have the more cortisol is released.
Intuitively, this gives us reason to suspect that long-term glycogen depletion resulting from long-term LC diets may lead to chronically elevated cortisol levels.
Cutting carbs out of your diet to control insulin levels doesn't always mean you will stop loosing and storing fat. Fat can still be stored without the presence of insulin.
When you eat dietary fat there is an enzyme called chylomicrons which bind free fatty acids to a glycerol to produce tryclicerides TG.
These chylomicrons make there way to fat cells to which a cheeky enzyme called acylation-stimulating protein (ASP) allows lipogenesis (fat storage) to take place
This whole process is done without the presence of carbohydrates in your diet and the production of insulin through carbs.
However, ASP has a number of physiological actions to which one of them is the ability to signal the pancreases to release insulin without the presence of carbohydrates, this is where high fat low/zero carb diets can become problematic.
Your thyroid gland produces two main hormones: T4 (also called thyroxine) and T3 (also called triiodothyronine). These hormones help to control your metabolic rate, that is the rate at which your body burns calories. They also have a huge bearing on your energy levels and maintenance of normal body temperature.
T4 is not the active thyroid hormone; it must be converted into T3 in your body in order to exert its effects. The majority of this conversion does not occur in your thyroid gland. Most T4 to T3 conversion happens in your liver, kidneys and muscles. If you have a fatty liver or a sluggish liver, this conversion will not be effective. This can leave you feeling tired, depressed, puffy, overweight and with dry skin and thinning scalp hair. Indeed you would have a thyroid problem caused by a faulty liver.
If you are taking thyroid hormone medication in the form of thyroxine, it too must be converted into the active form in your body. Therefore if you are taking thyroid medication but still not feeling much better, your liver could be to blame! It is vital that you work on improving the health of your liver if you want healthy thyroid hormone levels.
There are many women lately struggling to lose weight and their number one reason why they finally decide to start their weight loss journey is due to their belly fat getting out of hand. Many of the women we interviewed said, it was making them feel uncomfortable around their partners and they felt unattractive. They feel nothing looks good on them anymore and that is a worrying sign for them. So what are the causes of belly fat?
Where you gain fat and how easy it is to lose belly fat is partly down to genetics. Our genes help determine how many fat cells we have and where these fat cells are stored. Most men preferentially deposit fat in their abdominal area, this is due to the action of male hormone testosterone. The stress hormone, cortisol also encourages belly fat. Women tend to deposit fat on the hips, thighs and buttocks, which is down to the effects of the female hormone, estrogen. For this reason, a woman’s body shape changes and belly fat increases after the menopause when estrogen levels decrease. Though men tend to have more belly fat than women, men generally lose belly fat faster as a result of regular exercise.
Your body shape also affects how easily you lose belly fat:
Basically this is caused by eating the wrong foods, consuming too many calories and/ or insufficient exercise. You probably also are carrying extra weight around your hips and legs. Losing belly fat is pretty straightforward, but does require a lifestyle overhaul. You need to implement a diet that will help you lose belly fat and regular exercise to burn fat and strengthen your abs. Read about which foods you should be avoiding and which ones will help you quickly lose that belly.
The stress hormone known as cortisol, promotes fat to be deposited in the belly area. High levels of cortisol are linked with greater amounts of belly fat. Alcohol, smoking and caffeine all increase cortisol levels. Read more about which type of diet will help reduce cortisol levels.
Post pregnancy the uterus is heavier than pre-pregnancy causing the uterus to drop. The uterus does return to its pre-pregnancy size, but takes about 6 weeks to do so. Also, pregnancy splits the abdominal muscles (the linea alba muscle separates) down the middle. Therefore, it’s not even worth thinking about aiming for flat abs until that process is complete and stay clear of crunches, as they will force these muscles farther apart. Don’t rush into exercising, give yourself at least 2 – 3 months before exercising to get back into shape. Always speak to your doctor or midwife before starting an exercise program, particularly if you’ve had a caesarean section. It is essential to ensure your abdominal muscles have healed before starting vigorous exercises.o get back your pre-pregancy body, you need re-train and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and your deepest tummy muscle layer (transversus abdominus). The pelvic floor muscles help to stabilize the pelvis and support the organs of the lower abdominal cavity, including the bladder and uterus. Pelvic floor strengthening exercises known as Kegels (named after Dr. Kegel) generally recommended for strengthening the pelvic floor. The transversus abdominus is a deep abdominal muscle and acts as a corset, pulling you in. Exercises targeting the transversus abdominus will help to strength your core and flatten your belly, by pulling it in from the inside out.
You know you have a bloated belly, if it starts off relatively flat in the morning, but grows larger throughout the day with gas or indigestion. Bloating can affect you irrespective of size, you may be slim or overweight. Your belly may be bloated due to food intolerances, sluggish bowels as a result of a poor diet or a relatively unknown, but probably common condition called Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). SIBO is when there are abnormally high levels of bacteria in the small intestine, especially the type of bacteria usually found in the colon (large intestine) than the small intestine. Basically, there are two problems (1) too much bacteria and (2) the wrong type of bacteria in the wrong place. The symptoms of SIBO include excess gas, abdominal bloating and distension, diarrhea (less frequently constipation) and abdominal pain. It is thought that many people labelled with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), are in fact suffering with SIBO.
FACTORS THAT CAN INCREASE BELLY FAT
There are several factors that increase the likelihood of developing excess deep belly fat, including:
• Male gender
• Post-menopausal women
• Sedentary lifestyle
• Heavy drinking (3 or more drinks per day for men, 2 or more drinks for women)
• Chronically high stress levels
• Poor diet, particularly if high total fat, saturated fat and refined carbohydrates.
Every time you put a stick of gum in your mouth and start to chomp, your brain thinks you're eating food. So it sends signals to your stomach, pancreas, and other digestive organs to get them ready for the digestive process.
Your pancreas is fooled into manufacturing a batch of the digestive enzymes your brain thinks you'll need.
If you keep this pattern going month after month, your pancreas gets exhausted from the repeated over-production. Then it won't be able to produce the digestive enzymes you need when you actually require them.
Without the relevant digestive enzymes to break down your food, you will be massively lacking in vital nutrients to supply your body with fuel and tissue building proteins.
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