In our first of a series of articles on nutrition, we look at the wonderful world of carbs. Learn how they can be helpful in a balanced diet…
What are Carbs?
A carbohydrate is an organic compound which consists of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Carbohydrate is the ideal source of energy for humans, as it is converted into glucose, a form of sugar, which is transported around the body and used to produce energy. The body can either use glucose immediately or turn excess glucose into glycogen and store it in the liver and muscles for later use. Too much can however be stored in the form of fat.
Correct carbohydrates are an important part of any healthy diet, as they give energy to working muscles, fuel the central nervous system, enable fat metabolism, and prevent protein being used for energy. Although carbohydrate is the preferred source of energy for muscle contraction and biologic work, it is actually the only non-essential macro nutrients required by humans. We can gain all of our energy requirements from other sources such as protein and fats.
The Good Carbs
The types of carbohydrate you include in your diet can make a big difference to your health. There are two types of carbohydrate: complex and simple. Complex carbohydrates are naturally found in foods such as sweet potatoes, nuts and whole grains. Simple carbohydrates, which are often referred to as sugars, exist naturally in fruit and vegetables and are also found in refined foods such as biscuits, cakes and sweets.
High-fibre nutritious carbohydrates, that are minimally processed, are much more beneficial to your health than simple carbohydrates. Not only do they give a slower and more sustained release of energy than simple carbohydrates, they are proven to be better for long-term health, appetite control and sustaining energy levels. Foods such as certain fruits, sweet potatoes, steel-cut oats, plain yogurt, quinoa and vegetables provide carbohydrates that are less disruptive to your blood sugar levels, and in addition, provide you with fibre, vitamins and antioxidants.
How much is too much?
The amount of carbohydrate you should consume per day varies from person to person, depending on calorie intake and how much exercise you do, your body composition and personal goals. (The average RDA of carbohydrate for women is 230g and for men is 300g.) Whilst many people believe in the common diet myth that no carbs leads to weight loss and improved health, cutting down on carbs too drastically can have a negative impact on your health. The fibre content in high-carbohydrate foods can help weight control and healthy weight loss. Whole grains, vegetables and certain fruits, in particular, have low energy density levels, which means that they can fill you up on few calories and keep you full for long periods of time.
Consuming carbohydrates in excess is unhealthy. Simple carbohydrates give you a quick boost of energy but the effects are short lived. Simple carbohydrates which are loaded with sugar, such as cakes, desserts and sweets quickly increase blood sugar levels and if the body is repeatedly overloaded with these, Type 2 diabetes can develop. Eating too much simple carbohydrate can also lead to weight gain and tooth decay.
Like any type of food, carbohydrates are good, but in moderation. If you eat the right types of carbohydrate, as part of a sensible balanced diet, the effects on your health can only be positive.
Worried about your daily intake of carbs? Fitness Matters can help you change your lifestyle with a healthy diet plan. Get in touch with our fitness experts today.
Although the weather may suggest differently, summer is most definitely approaching. And quickly! Before we’ve even realised, it’s May and it’s time to start making those summer holiday plans and to get that summer body into shape. What simple things can you do to make sure you’re looking and feeling great when it’s time to go to the beach?
Give yourself a deadline
Firstly, manage your time. Pick a date in the calendar which will be your deadline, and plan accordingly to reach your fitness goal. By giving yourself a target date to get fit, it will help you organise your time better, ensuring you train when you need to and rest when you don’t. Getting fit and staying fit is all about structure. Structuring your life in a way that suits your commitments, your lifestyle and also the needs of your body – that is the key to success.
Mix it up
Secondly, change your fitness routine. There are different exercises that work better at different times of the year. Did you know for example, some research suggests that higher body temperatures are better for reaching peak performance during sport? But in the winter, colder temperatures means you burn off more calories with less effort (See our article: ‘Stay fit during the winter’). How do you decide what is best? We’re always available for a chat so get in touch.
Little and often
Finally, take small positive steps, little and often towards your goal. Change doesn’t happen overnight. Focus and consistency is important. Do you want a beach bum? Then you’ll have to work for it. In our article last year, we outlined 5 simple nutrition and fitness tips to keep you on track and they’re still as true as anything today. Eat smaller portions, little and often. Exercise little and often to keep your metabolism going. Change your life for the better in small, consistent steps.
And what better way to do that, than with us?
We offer training schemes and schedules that suit you; whatever day of the week, whatever time of day. We’ll be there to help you get a body that you’ll want to show off on those sun-drenched beaches of the Mediterranean. We give you the training you need (and want) to lose those pounds and provide the nutritional and lifestyle advice to ensure that the body you’ve worked so hard to get, stays.
Call us on 01392 829 713 to make your first appointment. Don’t worry, it’s a no-obligation consultation (but we’re sure that once you’ve talked to us, you won’t want to look anywhere else).
Make sure that the body you go on holiday with this year is one that you’re proud of.
With the New Year long gone and the summer firmly set in our sights, it’s at this point in the year that people begin to look for the best ways of getting their summer bodies into shape. But is what you’re doing to get your summer look really the best thing for you to be doing?
So, what do you do?
In general, the first place people go to for training and fitness advice is our trusty companion, the World Wide Web. Pages detailing the latest celebrity-endorsed electrolytes or ‘miracle workout packages’ giving you ultra-firm abs in a week are what usually greet our eyes after a simple Google-search. But are these products really the ideal way for you to get from Christmas-belly to Summer-hot? Every now and then you may find an article that has a reasonable amount of constructive advice and with that in mind, you head to the local gym to begin your quest for your perfect summer body. Six weeks go by. You’ve been going to the gym three times a week, just like the friendly internet article told to do. You’re beginning to wonder whether your new workout IS actually working out the way you wanted. It’s all well and good going to the gym three times a week, but you need a way of being able to measure your fitness development. Who is there that is telling you that what you’re doing is right? Who is there that is instructing you on what exercises are good and which are doing nothing but getting you in a hot and sweaty mess? Back to the internet you go…
So, what couldyou be doing?
Ask a professional. Many local gyms have the facility for personal training. One-to-one personal training offers the results you are looking for without the hassle of trawling the internet for hours trying to find out what your favourite sportsman or woman is doing that wins them those gold medals. Your personal instructor will set you achievable goals, working with you directly in getting your physical fitness to its peak. Measuring your development as you go, your trainer will develop your regime depending on your ability, constantly pushing you so you don’t get complacent along the way, allowing you to understand which exercises are good and helpful, and which are completely pointless. Personal training gives you the backing you need to succeed and be ready for when the summer months hit (and beyond!).
Fitness Matters offers both Personal Training and Group Training sessions. Taught by professional athletes who have helped fellow professionals stay in peak physical shape, Fitness Matters provides a personal service that will leave you looking great, and feeling even better. For more information on the services Fitness Matters offer, call directly on 07894 11 56 99.
“2013 will be the year of a new me”. Sound familiar?
If you are like the majority of people that, on the run up to Christmas, suddenly experienced a surge of motivation to make a New Year’s Resolution, how’s it going for you? January will soon be coming to an end; marking the point in the year where many people simply see their resolutions fly straight out of the metaphorical window. Now that the real life has started again and the work routine has returned to normal, time to do anything else suddenly becomes very hard to find.
To make sure you stick to your resolution (whether this is to eat more healthily, get fit, or a combination of both), the key is to be realistic and set small, regular but achievable goals, in order to avoid your resolution being put in the bin along with the remains of the Christmas turkey.
So what can you do to ensure you stay on track?
Create a goal that you can achieve.
With the holidays now nothing more than a distance memory, sit down and think about what you want to achieve. If your end result is to lose a stone this year, set small goals (maybe to lose two pounds a week) and set dates of how and when you’re going to achieve this. Whatever your goal, remember it needs to be objective and measurable.
Get the right fitness wear.
Invest in a pair of trainers. If you’re planning on running to improve your fitness levels, it is important you think about comfort. With your feet sorted, the steps are there in front of you to a new you.
Don’t fall after the first knock back.
Be prepared that you may get knocked back; this is when the majority of people give up on their resolution (don’t be one of them)! Try keeping a list of what will boost your motivation and refer to this list when you need a motivation lift. If you do have a setback, just start again the next day. Try and share your resolution with friends and family, it’s no fun doing it all alone.
Above all, reward yourself! Celebrate your success by treating yourself to something naughty that you’ll enjoy. This doesn’t mean eating the whole box of chocolates, but it will help you stay on track.
Fitness Matters are offering all prospective new clients the opportunity for a no-obligation, free consultation that covers personal training and lifestyle. Speak to the experts to see how they can help discover a ‘new you’. Each personal trainer is professional and dedicated, with the ability to create a bespoke package for you to ensure you see the results you want. Part of a team? Contact Fitness Matters today for our latest information about our Group Sessions.
“Both tears and sweat are salty, but they render a different result. Tears will get you sympathy; sweat will get you change.” – Jesse Jackson
Embarking on a new active and healthy lifestyle is a great idea, but whatever choices you make, ensure they are sustainable. Transforming yourself overnight from someone who eats badly and takes no exercise, to someone who exercises daily and eats perfectly is unlikely to last. Make small and consistent improvements over time and they will remain part of your lifestyle and the bigger picture will take care of itself. Strive to limit unnecessary stress and your life will have a great balance to it.
Have a plan
This topic can relate to many different aspects in your life. Especially concerning nutrition and exercise, thinking ahead and preparing what you are aiming to achieve or eat will lead to the best short and long term results. If you allow yourself to become too hungry through lack of preparation and thought you are far more likely to grab anything to eat and more often than not this will be unhealthy. With regard to exercise, if you have no session plan and just exercise ‘off the cuff’ as you go, you will quickly lose your way and train inefficiently. It is essential you try to form the habit of planning ahead, both for the short and long term.
A training/food diary can be great way to track your progress. It helps to keep you motivated whilst making you accountable to what you are doing. Having a training buddy will also make you more likely to make that gym appointment and keep you on a fast track to success.
Always make sure your training is specific to what you are trying to achieve. That may sound obvious, but the vast majority of people do not do this. What you do within each workout regarding exercise type, number of sets, repetitions, rest period, amongst others will determine the results you achieve.
Many of us are after a leaner body. Using this as an example, a combination of interval training and higher intensity weight training, based around compound movements, would have the most dramatic effect on your body. Training should be regular, but overtraining will not allow your body ample time to rest and repair.
Our bodies are very good at adapting and continually need to be challenged. Variety is therefore very important within your training structure, but you will also need an element of repetition to monitor progress in certain areas.
Eating a healthy and balanced diet is essential in anyone’s life. Many people seem to compromise good eating habits, being convinced they do enough exercise to negate the negative effects of eating badly. This is not the case, as you simply cannot out train a bad diet.
Combining sensible, sustainable eating with a smart training programme is the most powerful combination.
We should aim to consume food on a ‘little and often’ basis (5-6 meals a day is about right), and in doing so we keep our body’s metabolism burning.
Not all foods were created equally however so it is critical to make the right choices and think about what we are eating. Try to choose foods that are in as natural state as you can (meat, vegetables etc) and avoid processed foods as much as possible. These are the foods our bodies are designed to eat and will keep our blood sugar levels even.
Any supplements within your diet should be natural and of the highest quality and always limit unnecessary toxins (cigarettes and alcohol).
Being incorrectly hydrated can affect performance and general bodily functions. Just a 2% drop in bodyweight from fluid loss can have a profound effect on aerobic performance. Prevention is always better than cure so drink water throughout the day and try not to let yourself get thirsty. You wouldn’t let your car run out of fuel.
Around training times, a low sugar sports drink can also be used helping to replace electrolytes.
There are so many factors to consider when trying to achieve a fit and healthy lifestyle. Incorporating as many of these factors as possible will leave you on the right track. Aim to be better today than you were yesterday, making small improvements as you go. Surround yourself with like-minded people who will have a positive influence and keep you motivated.
Christmas and the holiday season brings with it lots of temptations and chances to undo all your hard work in terms of diet and fitness. And with the cold weather and short dark days it can be hard to get motivated to get outside and work out. Here are some simple tips to keep you on your toes and healthy during the winter months.
Don’t be SAD, get motivated
Seasonal affected disorder (SAD) apparently affects an estimated 7 % of the UK population. Otherwise known as the “winter blues”, one of the key symptoms of SAD is lethargy or a lack of motivation. Whether or not you are suffering from SAD, we’ll all admit that it can be harder to get up when it’s cold and dark outside. It can be depressing when you leave for work in the dark and return home in the dark. Daylight becomes something for the weekend. But it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s Christmas! It’s a time for setting plans for the New Year and a time for finishing off those you set last year. Have you done all you can in 2012? Recognising these motivational difficulties is half the battle. Finish the year off with a bang – go for that run in the rain, it’s refreshing! You can look forward to a lovely bath when you get home again. Some studies suggest that exposure to special lighting that simulates sunlight can treat SAD. Whatever it takes; be the best that you can be for a few more days and you will feel all the better for it.
Give into temptation (but don’t go crazy)
There is a real temptation in the cold winter to eat more. Instead of fighting this urge, embrace it sensibly. Try eating more super foods like berries, brown rice, green tea, wild salmon or walnuts. Studies show that exposing yourself to colder temperatures may boost your metabolism and burn more calories anyway. When it comes to Christmas dinners and staff parties though, don’t overdo it. If you have been good, you may want to treat yourself, but make sure it is done in moderation and that you are aware of any extra calories you are taking on. Perhaps work out extra hard before and after such events, so as to not undo your training efforts entirely.
Forget outdoor sports, come to the gym
Exercising outdoors can be very stimulating and the colder weather means you may burn off more calories with less effort – but it can also be wet, slippery and unforgiving. Personal Trainers and private gyms like ours (Fitness Matters Ltd) are a great alternative for people not used to these environments because we promote a welcoming and unintimidating atmosphere. Training indoors gives you the ability to control the environment and many places including ours do some attractive winter offers and free-prize draws (check out our Twitter or Facebook for competition prizes). January can be very busy at your local gym, with lots of New Year’s resolutions coming into effect, so a private gym may be just what you need.
And on the mention of resolutions, it’s important to summarise by saying that just because the year is ending doesn’t mean you should ease off on your hard fitness work. Deciding to be obsessive with exercise in the New Year isn’t a valid excuse. Get motivated. Be sensible and regular. Keep to your plan and don’t change it just because 2012 is becoming 2013. It’s great to have ambition and goals, but it must be sustainable throughout the whole 12 months. Good luck!
Research suggests that individuals who regularly engage in structured exercise are up to 62 % more productive and work efficient over a 3 month period that those that don’t. This is huge! It would be like employing another member of staff, part-time, for free! With figures like this in mind, how can you ignore the benefits of fitness for your business?
IT’S ALL IN THE MIND.
One of the great things about a healthy and fit lifestyle is of course the morale and work ethics. Committing to a training regime shows dedication in an individual which filters through into the workplace. Employees who train hard, work hard and are ultimately much more productive. They bring energy, enthusiasm and a happier attitude to the office. Because of the endorphins released through working-out, employees that train are often happier and more manageable and can lift others in the workplace. Next time you are thinking about sending your staff on an expensive team-building weekend, consider promoting a fitness programme instead! Think about organising sports games during lunch breaks or getting a personal trainer in for an afternoon each week.
A GOOD DIET
By having a healthy diet – eating little and often of the right foods for example – leads to sustained blood sugar levels throughout the day. This results in an improved mental approach, helping with decision making and approaches to tasks and work. Hydration levels are much improved through training; research suggests that hydration is up to 72 % better, leading to much better productivity and efficiency within the workplace.
IMPROVED ATTENDANCE, REDUCED COSTS
Research suggests that over a three month period, the amount of days lost through staff illness was up to 78 % lower than those that didn’t exercise! A healthy lifestyle results in a healthy body with increased protection from illness and a greater dedication to work. It’s not rocket science. Sickness costs the economy millions every year; 131 million days were lost to sickness in 2011! Save yourself a slice of this and get your team moving.
In any organisation, it is important for management to remain strategic long-term planners. Although promoting a fitness programme may increase costs initially, the benefits are proven longer term. Tangible cost-reductions are easily attainable if you do it right. Here at Fitness Matters we pride ourselves on operating schemes to develop and grow your business (find out more) through training and diet-plans. We’d love to talk to you about how we can help enrich your company culture. Or, maybe you are already doing this? Let us know in the comments below.
The fantastic summer of games we’ve enjoyed has thrilled audiences and inspired generations from all walks of life. We summarise five important lessons to take from the events, to help you improve your fitness, health and self-fulfilment.
With so many heroes doing such great things, it’s easy to be inspired – and we should be! In an interview, Dame Kelly Holmes said that “London 2012 has the ability to inspire people from so many walks of life, and so many abilities and disabilities, to get involved in sport .” She herself was inspired to greatness by watching Sebastian Coe win gold in 1984. Take a leaf out of Dame Kelly’s book and get some ambition to be best that you can be.
Once you have chosen your role-models and set out your goals, you must stick with it! Richard Alexander from the GB Hockey team says “Don’t put exercise off till later. The longer you leave it the greater the chance that something may come up or distract you. And if you can’t do the full workout, do what you can… five press ups/sit ups a day before bed is an extra 1825 a year.” Dedication is the key to attaining your goals in life – whatever they may be. The most successful people are those that are always working towards their targets, whatever their mood or however they’re feeling.
TRY SOMETHING NEW
Are you a “yes man”? You should be! Saying yes to things is the best way to find new opportunities that could lead to all sorts of life benefits. With all the media coverage of even the most obscure events, lots of sports have seen massive rises in popularity as a result of the games. Even Usain Bolt may try something new, with reports that he may move on to other events such as the long jump . The London 2012 has a great website to get you into some new sports, so say “yes” and check it out: click here.
DON’T LET FAILURE STOP YOU
Possibly the greatest lesson to take from the Paralympic games is that even when life gives you a tough time, you can still achieve great things. If something goes wrong, it is easy to give up and go home. Pick yourself up, try again, ask for help, try a different approach, adapt or simply work harder – do whatever it takes to keep going and get back on track. To be superhuman and to know true greatness, you have to know failure first.
NO SHORTCUTS, JUST HARD WORK
It goes without saying that true success comes from pure hard work. “The chief lesson of the Olympics is that success does not come without hard work, and lots of it .” Mo Farah said that his success at the Olympics was down to hard work and “grafting”, and Andy Murray proved that after years of struggling and falling behind, he had what it took become a champion . These sport heroes show us that whatever we deem “success” to be, hard work is the best way we can achieve it. From a totally different perspective, this moral has spilled over into Conservative viewpoints (click for reference) in an attempt to “make Brittain great again”. Despite how you vote or where you stand politically, a summer of great games has shown us that being dedicated and working hard is the best way to realise great results.
What did you take from the games? Which of these points means the most to you? Leave us a comment below and support Fitness Matters.
There has been a large rise in the popularity of intermittent fasting recently, but what are the facts and is it something helpful or harmful to your body? We’ve been doing our research and we found some interesting results.
Firstly, it must be said that “intermittent fasting” doesn’t need to be as drastic as it sounds. Typically, subjects will contain their meals to a six or seven hour period each day, resulting in a period of 18 hours without food. Bear in mind also, that obviously you don’t eat in your sleep (around 8 hours) and that leaves just 10 hours without food each day. Skipping breakfast, then eating at noon and around 6 or 7 pm is a good way to start this regime. But is it the right thing to do for your body?
Our ancestors did not have regular access to food, so it makes sense that our bodies have developed in a way that supports certain eating schedules. For example, it takes roughly 6 hours for our bodies to digest a meal, after which we begin to burn fat. So by eating less frequently, we enable our bodies to enter this “fasting mode”. When we eat, insulin levels in the body rise and insulin determines what energy source your body uses for fuel. Low levels of insulin cause stored fats to be used whereas high levels encourage carbohydrates as the main source. So by eating less regularly, insulin is kept to a minimum and fat can be burned. There are however downsides…
Firstly, if you have diabetes (2.9 million people in the UK), maintaining steady insulin levels is very important and so fasting is not suitable. Many other people notice problems with their energy levels dropping during periods of fasting as the body tries to optimise itself into a survival state. Fast for too long (periods over around 30 hours) and your body will switch to burning fats stored in muscle rather than the sort of fat you find on your waist line! You must remember that your diet shouldn’t change – you mustn’t binge just because you have fasted for a certain period of time, and if you eat very refined food (with high glycaemic food ratio’s) or 40 % of your daily calories in one sitting, intermittent fasting simply won’t do.
There are many benefits and negatives to intermittent fasting, but at the end of the day it comes down to the individual. Many people like to have a strong breakfast to set them up for the day and the “little and often” eating method will always be popular for maintaining insulin levels and energy stores. On the other hand, there is much evidence to suggest that exercising on an empty stomach is a great way to burn fat, stay in shape and be healthy.
Intermittent fasting? The jury is out. We want to know what you think. Have you tried it? Leave a comment below and let us know how you got on.
Winter is over and now it is time for sun, sand and sea … summer is on its way and it’s time to get into those shorts and bikinis, but are you the shape you want to be? How fit and healthy do you feel and are you in need of any help or motivation to shed a few pounds and tone up those ‘beach muscles’. Is now the time to reshape your body, lose fat and be lean.
We all know that it takes commitment and effort to embark on a health and fitness routine. Fitness Matters will help you take control of starting up a new fitness regime and help you to achieve realistic and achievable goals. We will commit to helping you successfully achieving your health and fitness ambitions.
Here are some simple bits of advice to help you get started:
Don’t always take the easy option, be more active. Little steps and changes to your lifestyle will accumulate and make a big difference in the long term.
Basic Scientific facts tell us that to lose body fat you need to burn more calories than you consume. That doesn’t mean yo-yo dieting but eating clever and training efficiently.
Start by writing down all your food and exercise over a 5-day period. This takes only a few minutes out of your day and can be a real eye opener. Before you have even made too much effort your diet will improve and you will be helping yourself towards your goal.
Don’t be greedy. Exercise some portion control. Eat smaller meals and eat more often.
Higher intensity exercise equals more calories burnt, which means more fat lost.
Outside of knowledge and experience, our skills are in motivating clients and giving them the self-belief to get the best out of themselves. This coupled with thorough nutritional and lifestyle advice leads to the very best results. A key point is that both training and dietary advice is given at a pace that can be sustained within the clients’ lifestyle. We cater for every individual, whatever their goals, sessions and training structure are completely unique to them. Our fully insured and qualified trainers are understanding and approachable and are professional at all times.
Fitness Matters have the answer; we are genuinely unique and if you want to lose weight, tone up, commit to having a healthy and active summer we are there to help you. You can embark on a health drive at any time but now, along with after Christmas, are the most common. Look at the benefits of being healthy and you can turn your life around. Is it time you made the best of yourself …