As Kiwis we love to spend our summer days at the beach so we all want to pack on some muscle and shred body fat to be ready for these occasions. In order to initiate this, it is essential that your training and food intake go hand in hand. You will not see changes or results unless you use these aspects in conjunction with each other. Many seem to go about it the wrong way and I often hear people going on extreme diets to lose a few kilograms. This actually causes a negative effect and ruins your metabolism therefore, defeating the purpose of weight loss for the long run. Kilograms lost are temporary; this is not always fat loss but can be due to muscle loss. I often have people asking the same questions about losing excess body fat but gaining lean muscle. I will address these and speak of some myths around fat loss and gaining muscle.
Will eating more protein equal more muscle?
Unfortunately this is not the case. To gain muscle you need to increase your total calorie intake. These calories need to be made of good fats, carbohydrates and protein. More importantly you need to make sure you are paying attention to your micro nutrients such as vitamins and minerals as they all assist in muscle building. Protein does build muscle but our bodies need other micro nutrients to allow the body to function well and assist with muscle gain.
Will eating a zero fat diet make me lean?
No. Common sense will tell you that if you eat no fat, you will lose the excess fat but unfortunately our bodies are smarter than that. I believe we need to consume good fats in order to burn bad unwanted body fats. Omega -3 polyunsaturated fats like those in oily fish actually increase the speed at which you burn calories. In summary, if your calorie intake is higher than what you need or use in a day, you will put weight on. The right calorie intake for you is important to fuel the workouts, assist with tissue repair and muscle build. The key to losing body fat is either increasing your activity level while you keep your calories at maintenance level, or reducing your total calorie intake a day. Simply cutting all your fats will not do the trick and is not a realistic lifestyle change.
How many carbohydrates should I consume daily?
The exact number of grams you should consume a day is very dependent on your goals and how your body can process certain carbs. I believe biologically we are all the same but genetically we are all different. The way to find out which suits you best is merely through trial and error. I have had experience in experimenting the right approach and to understand what works well for me and my physique. This is inclusive of the changes necessary to make based on my on or off season needs. A general rule I use when working with people
is as follows:
I allow a hard gainer to have about 2.5grams of carbs per pound of body weight. These grams need to come from slow digesting carbohydrates and are to be spread throughout the day. On the other hand if you are someone like me who has a tendency to put on body fat easily, I only suggest eating 1.5 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight. If you want to lose body fat, I would suggest reducing the amount of carbs you eat daily. A hard gainer may have 1.5grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight while an easy gainer will go to 1 gram of carb per pound of bodyweight. Also, the intake of the above will be dependent on how much you train, how intensely you train and how much energy expenditure is happening for you.
My best tips for getting a lean body are as follows:
1. Drink plenty of water - In addition to your normal daily intake of fluids, it is vital to replace any fluid lost through exercise. This will help speed up your metabolism and keep your
body hydrated and functioning to its optimum level.
2. Eat small portion meals – Eat small, necessary amounts and eat more often than a standard three meal day with the size and content in mind.
3. Know your foods – Make sure you are aware of exactly what you are buying; I discourage processed foods due to preservatives and artificial additions.
4. Carbs down but not completely out – Consume the correct amount of carbs for you but do not eliminate them completely.
5. Mix up your cardio – Enjoy cardio sessions along with strength training to enhance necessary fat loss.
I have always believed that I know my body better than anyone else. As long as you are good at noticing and monitoring your progress, you should take charge of your food intake based on what works well for you. I have personally tried all different eating habits and now I am aware of the ones that have worked well for me for different purposes.
Overall, you need to ensure what you’re doing outside of the gym is complimenting what you are doing inside of the gym in order to lose necessary fat and gain muscle.
Persistence and consistency creates success in what you aim to achieve. You can do it!
For more information on workouts and eating habits follow me on my Facebook page: Fawad Ahadi – IFBB Pro.
It really seemed like winter was never going to end. I am ecstatic the weather has finally changed to spring and summer is around the corner. With the change in season comes the opportunity to change the way we think about getting and staying fit. Now is the perfect time for us to shed our workouts along with our winter coats and change things up.
1. Spring clean your fitness routine tip: Take your workout outdoors
If you are sick of being stuck indoors throughout winter the milder temperatures and longer daylight hours are perfect reasons to take your workout outside. There are many body weight exercises one can perform outdoors with minimum equipment needed. For core-strengthening exercises, head to your neighbourhood park and take along an exercise mat or ball to do lunges, leg lifts, push ups, squat jumps on a bench or planks on an open lawn.
2. Spring clean your Fitness routine Tip: Clean Out Your Pantry
Do you still have that butter lover’s popcorn from the holidays or boxes of chocolate in your pantry? Get rid of them. And while you're at it, throw away other foods low in nutritional value, like chips, biscuits, sugary cereals, white bread and, yes, even those 100 calorie snack packs. Nutrition plays a key role in achieving your desired fitness goals so it only makes sense to clean out your pantry while you change your training routine to obtain best results.
3. Spring clean your fitness routine: Hire a personal trainer
If you have hit a rut, a fitness expert is really the best way to roll-out a workout makeover. Not only will a good personal trainer have a better idea of what’s possible, but they will also help you build variety into your workout so you shouldn’t need to give it an overhaul for quite some time. Plus, it’s harder to make last minute cancellations when you know you’ve got someone you’re paying waiting for you.
4. Spring clean your fitness routine: My approach
If you are still stuck and do not have any direction where to start from, here is how I would approach Spring clean my fitness routine to get lean and acquire a beach ready body. I am assuming that most people would have bulked up throughout winter and used various body split workouts. My strategy is to change from training individual muscles on certain days and instead doing 3 – 4 overall body workouts a week. A total body workout will allow us to train the big muscle groups more often and create more metabolic demand.
This Spring Cleaning routine is going to consist of several components.
Each workout will start with a power movement, followed by strength work, then a superset in the hypertrophy (mass building) rep ranges and finished off with some metabolic conditioning via functional movements or cardio. Training in this hybrid manner will ensure that you will keep the strength and muscle you have worked hard to build while torching enough fat to reveal some killer abs that will get you some attention by the time you are ready to step onto the sand.
Number of sets and reps will change from week to week. If you are performing 4 sets of 6 reps in squats week one, you should increase your reps to 10 the following week and so on as you progress. Other than increasing the reps, you can also increase the load each week to make sure you are progressing.
Also, it’s important that you adhere to the rest periods that are assigned for each exercise. I suggest having longer rests 90 – 120 seconds between sets at the beginning part of the workout as your goal is to push heavy (strength movements). Rest periods are reduced to minimum needed in the later stages of the workout (fat burning zone).
As my approach consists of three to four workouts per week I personally recommend you train on Monday, Wednesday and Friday or Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
As with any training routine, what you do outside of the gym is just as important as what you do inside it. With that in mind, aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Lay off the late night partying and following a smart nutrition plan will maximise your results.
Neuroendocrineimmune dysfunction or more descriptively speaking metabolic damage is not a myth and there are people who are affected by it. Do you struggle with weight loss, lack of motivation, low libido or simply feel you have done all the right things but you are no longer getting the results you want from your training routine or eating plan? If you do, it will benefit to keep reading!
Metabolic damage occurs when individuals attempt to lose body fat by eating less and exercising more for a long period of time. While this approach may give you fast results in a few weeks, it is not ideal in the long term. Why? The human body has a natural protective mechanism and will slow its fat burning process in order to compensate for the reduced nutrients it is receiving. This is a process often referred to as catabolism. That is the body preserving body fat in order to survive and instead burning muscle tissue for energy.
As a result of this compensation, reduced muscle mass and fatigue, individuals often notice their fat loss slows down. Individuals not only plateau with their fat loss but they eventually suffer from lack of energy, have cravings and gradually find their results going backwards and gaining weight despite their continuous effort to keep it off. These are some signs of your body being affected by over training, not enough rest and lack of important and adequate nutrients. If one continues to stick to a low calorie diet and focus on pushing the body harder to get results, they often end up doing more damage than good.
If you are someone who is affected by neuroendocrineimmune dysfunction or metabolic damage, here are a couple of ways you can correct this problem. The best way to overcome metabolic damage is to have patience and either:
1. Eat the same amount but exercise less. To recover from metabolic damage you need to give yourself more time to rest and recover. Exercising less and eating the same amount will automatically lower stress hormones and restore balance.
2. Eat more and exercise the same. If you have goals you are working towards and cannot afford exercising less, it is best to eat more and continue with normal training. Eating more will provide the body more nutrition to rebuild and repair. By eating more, I want to emphasise one should not double their daily calorie intake straight away, but instead increase gradually. The damage caused has been over a long period, so to correct this, you must be patient. I recommend increasing your calories by 100 – 150 calories per day for the first week and then continue to add an extra 50-100 calories per day every week there on.
You may also want to invest in getting massages, sauna therapies or anything you enjoy that may help lower your stress hormones.
There are no shortcuts in order to achieve the perfect physique or ultimate health. I recommend slow and gradual progress over fast and unsustainable goals. Whether you want to gain muscle, tone up, lose body fat or get strong, it is best to stay persistent and take your time enjoying the journey. You only have one body to live in for the rest of your life, treat it well!
IFBB Pro MP
“A goal without a plan is just a wish”
Shaping up after a New Year break is often on everyone’s to do list but unfortunately a very small percentage of people actually make good on those resolutions.
I find setting small, attainable goals throughout the year, instead of a singular, overwhelming goal on January 1st, can help you reach whatever it is you strive for. Remember, it is not the extent of the change that matters, but rather the act of recognising that lifestyle change is important and working towards it, one step at a time.
Some tips on how to get started and remaining on track:
1. Understand your macronutrients
“We are what we eat” - so make sure you have a well balanced eating plan. By ‘well balanced’ I mean you should have a nutrient dense diet to support your training and help you reach your goals sooner.
There are three macronutrients in existence and they are:
Protein: This is the raw material with which your body builds and repairs. If there isn’t enough protein present in your diet you run the risk of your body utilising too much protein from those stores in your muscles. Therefore you need to have adequate protein in your diets from various sources such as beef, chicken, seafood, lentils, beans, eggs etc. Not enough protein can jeopardise mass which as you can imagine has a profound impact on the appearance of your muscles, the effectiveness of your training and especially your recovery.
Carbohydrates: Carbohydrate is probably where the most confusion lies and many people commit to diets that promote cutting out all carbs. In my opinion, the idea that carbohydrates are fattening is a false assumption. Carbohydrates allow our brain to function, help prevent our bodies using muscle as fuel and provide us with vitamins, antioxidants and essential minerals. Therefore removing carbs altogether is not a good idea. The amount we should eat is governed by our body types and the type of training we do. Personally, I like to have more carbs on my heavy weight training days, as I need it to train at a high intensity. On my non-weight training days I have low to moderate carbs as I don’t need all the energy. My preferred sources of carbs are rice, sweet potatoes, vegetables and fruit.
Fats: It is just as important to include fats in your diet. There is a time and place for all fats as there is little evidence that suggests we should exclusively eat one kind and eliminate the others. Having fats in your eating plan also helps control appetite, contribute to pro and anti-inflammatory mechanisms in the body. My preferred sources of fats are avocados, animal sources such as salmon, red meat and from nuts.
I recommend seeing a good nutritionist to get you started.
2. Schedule your training times
It is important to have set times to train. I think of my training as an investment towards my long term health and therefore it is not hard to set an hour a day where I am uninterrupted. It is like a doctor’s appointment or any other commitment you have booked in your diary. I understand you may not have an hour a day, seven days a week to train, but there are ways around it. If you are restricted with time, a “power workout” is just as beneficial. A 30 minute workout at a higher intensity three to four times a week is great for those with busy lifestyles.
By making your resolutions realistic, there is a greater chance that you will keep them throughout the year, incorporating healthy behaviour into your everyday life.
Make resolutions that you are more likely to keep. Perfection is unattainable. Remember that minor setbacks when reaching your goals are completely normal and OK. Therefore DON’T give up completely because you ate a brownie, had a bad weekend of eating, or didn’t make it to the gym for a few days because you were busy. Everyone has ups and downs; resolve to recover from your mistakes and get back on track. Persistence is the key.
Best wishes for 2015
IFBB Physique Pro
Protecting your immune system and hard gains through Winter.
It has been great enjoying the “Kiwi Summer” and the body you worked hard to attain however, as Winter is fast approaching, we need to pay attention to a few key things in order to protect our muscles and immune system. As active fit individuals, we do not like forced time away from training and eating well. So when it comes to the Winter season, it is wise to be proactive and look after your immune system.
The immune system is your body’s natural defence system. It is a network of organs, tissues and cells that band together to defend your body against bacteria, viruses and parasites with potential to make you unwell. When you are stressed, not getting enough sleep, or not eating healthy, it is more likely for your immune system to breakdown which can eventually lead to loss in strength and muscle too.
The most obvious change that happens during Winter is a change in daylight and if you understand the role that sunlight plays on our recovery and sleep hormones, it is easy to see why we are more prone to over-training, common colds and why perhaps our mood drops.
Sunlight is the way we all get, Vitamin D into our bodies, however, in very small amounts. With reduced sunlight, we need to supplement with Vitamin D. Another reason we need vitamin D is that it has a synergistic relationship with Calcium, whereby it keeps your bone structure strong and helps with avoiding Osteoporosis. If you want to avoid supplements, some of the best food options are Kumara, Wheat Germ Oil, Whitebait and dairy products, that are all rich in these vital Vitamins D and Calcium.
Winter affects our sleep hormone too, Melatonin. Our body releases Melatonin in response to daylight. The earlier the sun goes down and it gets dark, the earlier our body will release this hormone. Changing your workouts to earlier in the day if you can will benefit you as it will not affect the release of Melatonin in your body by causing a false Cortisol release with exercise later in the day.
You may find despite all efforts over the Winter months you still catch a “bug” and become unwell. In this case, your best option is to continue eating well and resting even more. Listen to your body and it’s best not to engage in strenuous activities, as it will strain your body more and leave it struggling.
Eating a wide range of rich antioxidant and immune supporting nutrients like Zinc, Vitamin B and C will also help. I usually find after a few days of good rest, eating well and supplementing with important vitamins, I feel better and the best way to get back into activity is to do light cardio or exercise, before going back to your higher intensity workout.
In summary, here are some of my best tips to protecting your muscle and keeping your immune strong or recovering well through Winter.
1. If you are suffering from a “cold” it can affect your appetite. You may not want to eat as much as usual, however, it is important to give your body the right macro and micro nutrients for it to recover fast and avoid muscle loss. If I do not feel like eating, I resort to getting my calories by consuming more juices and high protein smoothies.
2. Increase your Zinc. Zinc is a powerful immune supporting mineral that is best found in seafood such as Shrimp and Prawns.
3. Increase your Vitamin C intake by having fruit such as Oranges, Lemons, Limes and Kiwifruit.
4. Increase your antioxidants. Berries are great to serve this purpose. Pre-load your immune system with the many different varieties of berries.
5. Increase your liquid intake. I like to drink Green Tea which again is a great antioxidant. Increasing your Green Tea and water intake can help flush out the bacteria in your body.
As I said above, avoiding “colds” over winter can be difficult. Other than our daily stresses, our body has to adapt to changes in temperature, daylight and different eating and training patterns. So it is important to look after yourself, eat well, stay hydrated, rest adequately and more importantly keep warm.