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The importance of Sleep on muscle gain.

Does sleep have any effect on your muscles?

Our Sports Scientists hear all the time from clients that their sleeping patterns are poor. Late nights out, working late, mind racing when your head hits the pillow etc. Can you relate?

It is very well known and documented that sleep plays a crucial part of humans’ general health and wellbeing. However, does sleep have any effect on muscle gain, retention or loss? Let’s dig deep and find out!

A number of studies have identified the importance of sleep on human hormonal balancing. When we sleep, our body releases anabolic hormones such as Testosterone & IGF-1 to aid the body in the recovery process. When sleep is insufficient, the release of these hormones is reduced which may lower the bodies’ ability to repair muscle or thus build muscle. So if you are doing regular strength training, but your sleep is compromised you could end up not getting those gains!

Studies have also shown that sleep is vital to make sure we don’t experience muscle atrophy (muscle break down). Lack of sleep will elevate hormones in our body, specifically CORTISOL. Cortisol is a stress hormone and when its elevated it has the effect of breaking down muscle tissue. This hormone is very Catabolic and reduces the rate of protein synthesis and inhibits muscle tissue growth.

So Elevated Cortisol = harder to gain muscle!!!

To reap the rewards of our hard work in the gym, you must get your sleep right.

The time in which we sleep directly influences cortisol levels as well! A number of studies have identified that individuals who slept during the day could not significantly reduce Cortisol levels when compared to people who slept during “regular” night hours. The conclusion of these studies stated that there is a direct correlation to cortisol secretion and our bodies natural clock (Circadian Rhythm) and it seems that catching up sleep the next day might not offset a bad night’s sleep.

To summarise, sleep plays a HUGE role in the growth and maintenance of muscle mass. LACK of sleep will contribute to breaking down your hard earned muscle! Sleep provides a state of recovery and repair for the body, allowing the “good” anabolic hormones to be secreted into the bloodstream and reducing the release of “bad” catabolic hormones.

Put your sleeping habits to the test with a DEXA scan and our experts will provide you with the advice you need to get to your goals!

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Light vs Heavy Weight

THE BEST WAY TO BUILD MUSCLE
When asking individuals, “What is the best way to build muscle?” a common response would be that you HAVE to lift heavy weights! But is this true? A recent meta-analysis conducted by Schoenfield et al. 2016, aimed to find out if you could build muscles using lighter weights. Their conclusions may change the way in which you think about building your muscles.

ABOUT THE STUDY
The study involved two completely untrained groups (men); a “High-load” group were prescribed a moderate repetition range (6-8 reps) at more than 65% of 1rm (rep max) and a “Low-load” group who were delegated a higher repetition range (12+ reps) at less than 65% of 1rm. The results showed that both training groups experienced similar “Hypertrophy” (muscle growth) effects.

Schoenfield et al. 2016 concluded that the most influential factor to muscle gain is that of “Total-work volume” (reps x sets x weight) and if the total volume is similar in both training groups; similar muscle growth should be examined. Arguments arose as experts stated that the individuals that were used to undergo this study where just experiencing the “newbie” gains we obtain when untrained individuals begin weight training. They argued that as the individuals were “untrained” and had not been exposed to any form of resistance training previously; they would, therefore, have a greater muscle potential and a likelihood to respond to any form of training.

Schoenfield et al. 2016, responded to this and performed the same experiment with trained individuals – he got similar results! Equal muscle growth in both the heavy and lightweight groups.

 

So what does this mean for you?

Well, it means that if you love lifting heavy weights with low reps you should still go for it, but if you like lifting lighter weights with higher reps then you can do this and get the same muscle growth on your body!

Although imagine the effect of lifting both lighter weights vs heavyweights on the longevity of your being. The heavier we lift, the higher the risk of injury we may be exposed too. A big reason why we see some of our clients stall and go backwards in their body composition goals is from injury.

We often see injuries in our clients who are heavy lifters. Injuries are obviously counterproductive for regular training. This is not to say you powerlifters or individuals out there who do love to lift heavy should cease to train the way you enjoy, but mixing the training methods between the two may be beneficial to allow your Central Nervous System (CNS) to recovery from your heavy lifting sessions.

If you have any question about this article or your specific training program, you can speak more about this to our experts at the Crows Nest Clinic.

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POWER OF PERSISTENCE

Client of the month

Congrats to our first client of the month!

Elaine is a client of ours at Body Measure, Crow’s Nest and has been coming since Jan 2015.
She is a great example of what perseverance and consistently measuring your results can do. We see so many clients start and give up. Those that get measured regularly and never give up, always get the body they want.

Elaine’s progress was up and down- then she got all her ducks in a row and … WOW… look at her now!

In the past 10 weeks she has:

DROPPED 2 body fat percentages. Now a lean 17% (where most bikini contestants need to sit at)

INCREASED her lean muscle mass by a whopping 2.3kg

DECREASED her fat mass by 1.1kg

She is heavier now by 1kg but has a much better and sexier body composition (which is why scales are so frustrating and totally misleading) This is why DEXA is the smart way to go!
We are stoked to be a part of Elaine’s fat loss journey. Through accurate measuring of body composition, we know she has gone anabolic (that is put on muscle at the same time as losing fat- the best way to change your body composition)

We now have the data she needs to maintain her new fit body!

If you have fallen off the wagon pick up the phone and call us to book an appointment (02) 9460 8502 and get the body you want just like Elaine did!

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Intramuscular fat- how much do you have?

Did you know our DEXA machine is the ONLY machine that can measure INTRAMUSCULAR FAT?

Intramuscular fat is the fat in your muscles, rather than the fat under the skin and for a long time has been largely ignored. It’s often referred to as intramuscular triglycerides, which help to provide fuel to the body.

But, just like the intramuscular fat in a nicely marbled Wagyu steak, this intramuscular fat can actually be GOOD. It can help body builders have fuller looking muscles, and provides long term energy for endurance athletes who don’t have much extra muscular fat to use as a fuel source. The trick is in knowing how much you have and the ratio compared to your other fat cells and lean muscle tissue.

Below are 4 male DEXA scan pictures, from left to right, the body fat measurements are 10%, 12%, 16% and 24%.

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Blue on the scan represents lean tissue, muscle and organs, and the green or light blue represents FAT! If you look at the thighs on the 10% male scan, you can see mainly dark blue with light blue speckles. This is marbling. This guy is like a lean cut of meat. If you look at the 24% male body scan, you will notice a lot of green dots and smudges in the upper thigh. This is like a wagyu steak- a fatty cut of meat.

Due to genetics and different training styles, some people can have the same amount of total fat on their body (ie. both be 11% body fat) but look different.

Body Measure recently scanned a personal trainer that had 12% body fat, and when he returned 3 months later he walked into our clinic looking much leaner. His second DEXA scan revealed his body fat percentage actually increased by 0.6%, despite looking much leaner. He had been doing a very intense high volume style of training called hurricane sessions (high intensity interval training). During this his body adapted by storing intramuscular triglycerides for fuelling in his thighs and arms. During this process he did lose subcutaneous fat, resulting in him looking leaner with fuller muscles. The increase in body fat percentage was from the accumulation of increased intramuscular fat.

Without being able to see this intramuscular fat increase the client wouldn’t have been able to recognise the true benefits of his training.

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Is this what you look like on the inside?

Body Measure has the only machine that measures intramuscular fat – we really can tell you what is going on in the inside!!

Our machine is accurate to the gram and can give you immediate results.  We can tell you where you are losing fat from under the skin, between the muscles or from your organs (the bad visceral fat- and yes, this is the ONLY DEXA scanner that can do this) and what the health implications – positive and negative –  are for your individual goals and circumstances.

Book in for a Dexa scan and find out your intramuscular fat levels in a matter of minutes!

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Fat: Making friends with this former dietary enemy

For years, we were told that eating fat was turning us all into fatty boombaladas, causing heart disease and sending us to an early grave. And so, everyone turned to the low-fat and no-fat “foods” that flooded the market. But what happened? The obesity epidemic didn’t subside. No, obesity levels have continued to increase with the resulting medical complications now one of the top health challenges of our era.

It turns out fat isn’t the public enemy number one we thought it was.

Instead, fat is a critical part of our diets.

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Grilled Atlantic salmon with an avocado and tomato salsa. Delicious healthy eating with GOOD fats!

Fat is vital for good nutrition

Did you know there is a source of nutrients we can’t get from any other foods or make ourselves. These are called essential fatty acids, and without them in your diet you cannot have good health. It plays a key role in helping our bodies actually absorb nutrients and is used to make many vitamins, in particular Vitamin A, D, E and K. To get the full vitamin hit from your garden salad or your plate of steamed greens, you need to add some healthy fat to your plate.

Fat makes food taste better

As well as making food good for us, fat makes food good to eat too. This was one of the biggest problems of the low-fat/no-fat dogma, as to make these foods palatable manufacturers needed to replace the fat with something else. What else makes food taste good? Sugar and salt, neither of which are exactly innocent when it comes to our health.

Eating fat helps you burn fat

Healthy fats play an important role in improving the liver’s ability to burn fat. Yes, if you want to burn off that unhealthy fat that is around your internal organs, you need to be eating dietary fats to initiate that fat-burning process. Before and after DEXA scans can give you the visual evidence of the results you can get from adding the right fats to your diet.

But don’t hoe into the deep-fried Mars bars and triple cheeseburgers

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Remember not all fat is created equal..

The important thing to remember is that all fats are not created equal. When it comes to fat, some are very, very good, and others are very, very bad. It’s also important to be conscious of your fat intake as fats are calorie dense foods and need to be consumed with deliberate intent. Be smart and strategic with the fats you eat for maximum health benefit.

So, what fats should you be eating?

The best fats to eat are minimally processed, real foods. Some examples of healthy high fat foods, as recommended by Authority Nutrition, include:

  • Avocados
  • Cheese
  • Whole eggs
  • Sustainable oily fish
  • Nuts
  • Butter from grass-fed cows
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Coconuts and coconut oil
  • Full-fat natural yoghurt

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It’s time to stop being afraid of fat and instead, make fat your friend. For so many of our clients, we’ve seen the amazing changes in their body composition from simple diet changes, including increasing the amount of healthy fat they eat. Before and after DEXA scans have shown that this fat loss has been primarily the unhealthy and dangerous visceral fat around internal organs in the abdominal cavity.

Have you been fat-phobic in an effort to lose weight? Has increasing the fat in your diet improved your health?

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Protein powders – do you need one and how to choose one

No longer just a mainstay of bodybuilders, protein powders have gone mainstream with shelves of them in supermarkets across the country. But a lot of the people we see in the clinic are confused about if, which and how they should be using protein powders. In this blog post, we’ll try to clear up this confusion and take a look at the differences between plant-based protein powders and animal-based protein powders, how to choose a quality powder, and how to use protein powders effectively.

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Plant based powers

Plant based protein powders include soy, pea and brown rice powders. There are also vegan powders that use a combination of plant proteins.

The benefits of plant based powders is that they are often suitable for people with food intolerances, being dairy and gluten free. They are also quite affordable. Pea powder in particular is slow digesting and may keep you full for longer.

The downsides are that some plant based powders are not complete proteins – for example, pea protein powder lacks the amino acid cysteine and brown rice protein powder is deficient in lysine. Similarly, while soy protein powder contain all essential amino acids and is a complete protein, there are concerns that the isoflavones it contains can interact with hormones like oestrogen and possibly skew hormone levels if taken in excess. However, according to Brian St Pierre from Priority Nutrition, this is only a concern if you otherwise eat a lot of soy-based foods. “If you are having the occasional shake with soy protein in it, it’s probably not anything to be concerned about,” he says.

Animal based powders

The most common animal-based protein powder is whey, closely followed by casein, both of which are dairy-proteins. There are also egg-based powders on the market.

Whey protein is fast acting, which makes it beneficial for stimulating muscle growth and development. In contrast, casein, while also a milk protein, is slower digesting and is often taken at night to provide a steady source of amino acids for up to seven hours. Given the discussion over the optimal window for protein supplementation after training, the benefit of this is questionable.

As a dairy-based product, both whey and casein are unsuitable for people who are lactose intolerant.

How to choose a protein powder

There are massive variations in the price of protein powders. This mainly reflects the amount of additives and fillers in the products, with purer products having a higher price point. There are a selection of natural protein powders available that do not contain preservatives, colours, flavours or sweeteners.

There is also a price difference between products like whey protein concentrate (WPC) and whey protein isolate (WPI), with isolate being considered a purer form of protein. However, the advantage of these more processed powders comes with a price premium that may not be worth it – according to Brian St Pierre from Priority Nutrition, the advantage is small and a basic whey concentrate powder from a reputable company can provide great results if taken with care given to timing and overall diet quality.

How to use protein powders effectivelyproteinpowder-dexascan-bodymeasure-crowsnest-sydney-muscle

Protein powders are most effective when used as a recovery drink within 30 minutes to 2 hours of a high-intensity workout. This means weight training, intervals or endurance training sessions of 45 minutes or longer – not after taking the dog for a half hour stroll around the block.

The Australian Institute of Sport recommends that it is most effective to eat some protein just after exercise, and to spread the rest of your day’s protein intake out over meals and snacks during the rest of the day. So rather than having a huge slab of meat at dinner, have smaller portions of protein-containing foods like lean meat, dairy, nuts and legumes throughout the day.

Ultimately, our view is that protein powders, used judiciously, can play a role in aiding muscle recovery. However, they should not be treated as a substitute for a healthy and balanced diet. Real food has the added benefit of being cost effective and providing you with a wide range of vitamins and minerals that a protein powder could never hope to fully mimic.

As mentioned in our blog earlier this month ‘Are you hitting your protein sweet-spot? it is advisable to calculate your protein requirements based on your lean muscle mass. A DEXA scan can give you an insight into how much lean muscle mass you have, accurate to the gram. Why not get a before and after scan to see if your protein intake when exercising is working for your body? Visit Body Measure in Crows Nest, Sydney, to help achieve your optimum body and health! You are worth it!

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Are you exercising too much? Physical stress and fat stores

cortisol-overexercise-dexa-bodymeasure-crowsnestWe see it all the time: client comes in, they want to lose weight – ideally fat. In pursuit of that goal of fat loss, they’ve been watching what they eat and hitting the gym every day. Sometimes, even twice a day! But despite all that exercising, they’re just not getting the results and we can see the frustration radiating off them.

“Why aren’t I getting results?” we get asked. The answer a lot of the time is stress. When you are under stress, your body produces more cortisol and more cortisol means more fat stores. But we don’t just mean emotional stress, physical stress is a significant and often overlooked trigger for cortisol production – especially in our enthusiastic exerciser example.

As Chris Kresser says, “when a goal of exercise is to lose weight or improve energy, overtraining can clearly be a barrier to achieving those goals.” Extreme exercise produces an immediate increase in cortisol, and chronically high levels of cortisol can increase your risk for a range of health problems, such as sleep disturbance (which can also hinder fat loss – see our blog post on sleep and fat!), digestive issues, depression, weight gain and memory impairment. Excess cortisol also encourages fat gain, especially around the abdomen, and we know how dangerous that abdominal fat can be.

So how do you know if you are putting your body under too much stress when exercising? You can start by doing a simple exercise test. For example, you might be able to do five pull ups when you aren’t stressed. But two days later, you find you can only do three pull ups. Of course it doesn’t have to be pull ups- it can be any simple exercises, for example, a vertical leap or a chin up. That’s a big warning sign that your body hasn’t recovered and you will trigger the production of cortisol and store fat, rather than burn it.

To get the maximum benefit from your exercise regime, without promoting excessive cortisol production, try the following tips:overexercise-cortisol-dexascan-bodymeasure-crowsnest

  • Reduce the frequency: Limit high intensity, high stress exercise to only two or three times a week.
  • Get enough rest: It’s important to give your body time to recover and get enough sleep. If you are having trouble sleeping through the night, evaluate the intensity of your training schedule.
  • Have a break: Take a regular, planned break from intense training.
  • Get more variety: High intensity exercise can be great for reducing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass. But balance this with a form of exercise that helps to control your cortisol levels, such as a regular yoga practice.
  • Be smart about your carbohydrates: Low-carb eating is a good way to decrease body fat, but if you are doing high intensity training, it’s important to strike the right balance. Choose healthy, slow burning carbs such as those found in root vegetables.

Are you training hard but not seeing results? Or are you feeling rundown and exhausted? Come back for a follow up DEXA scan and we can assess the changes in your body composition and help to identify if you might be overtraining and placing your body under too much stress.

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Are you sleeping yourself fat?

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There’s no doubt about it, sleep can make you fat.

But that’s not because you’re being a lazy bludger who’s hitting the snooze button on your alarm instead of getting up for your workout. No, it’s not getting ENOUGH sleep that might be the culprit for that pillow of fat around your tummy.

You see, sleep is an important function of your body’s repair cycle and also regulates your hormones. And when it comes to sleep and fat loss, there are two hormones that we need to be worrying about: ghrelin and leptin.

Ghrelin tells you when to eat – and when you are sleep deprived, your body produces more ghrelin. Sending you straight into the loving embrace of that mid-afternoon coffee with a side order of chocolate. Leptin’s role is to tell you to stop eating, and when you are sleep deprived, you have less leptin. So that one row of the chocolate block turns into the whole family-sized bar. Then, in addition to making poor food choices, you’re tired and lack the motivation to exercise.Sleeping businesswoman with her head on laptop

As you can see, it’s a recipe for a slowed down metabolism. In our society of busy-ness where sleep deprivation is often worn like a badge of honour, it’s little wonder that obesity levels continue to rise!

In addition to how much sleep you are getting, the quality of your sleep is also important too. You might think you are getting the recommended seven hours of sleep each night – or maybe even more, but like someone surviving on only four hours, you’re tired, struggling to control your appetite and unable to lose weight. With a growing number of health monitors, like the Fitbit or Jawbone Up among others, on the market now, many people are discovering that the quality of their sleep is less than ideal and this is negatively impacting their health. These devices can be a useful tool to identify a potential issue with the quality of your sleep, but for long term sleep problems, a referral from your doctor for a sleep study can help to pinpoint any underlying issues, such as sleep apnoea.

So, how can you improve your sleep and get your hormones back under control? Here’s some great tips from Harvard Medical School:

  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine too close to bedtime
  • Make your bedroom a sleep inducing environment: quiet, dark and cool, with minimal electronic devices
  • Create a soothing pre-sleep routine
  •  Go to sleep when you’re truly tired
  • Use natural light in the day to keep your internal clock on a healthy sleep-wake cycle
  • Have a consistent sleep schedule, going to bed and getting up at the same time
  • Nap early, or not at all
  • Have a lighter evening meal
  • Time your exercise right – aim for at least 3 hours before bed, or earlier in the day
Are your sleep habits undermining your fat loss goals? We can help to monitor your fat loss and show you how your results improve when you prioritise good sleep habits. Come in for a before and after DEXA scan in Crows Nest to get a true picture of your internal health.
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What’s your baseline? And where do you want to be?

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Bianca realised she needs to stay on top of her her game by watching her baseline and keeping fit and healthy.

Now, everyone knows that we should eat better food, move more and generally look after ourselves better. And look, we get it – change is hard, and it can be easier just to carry on with things the way they are. But February is a great time of year to assess your health. Christmas is over, kids are back at school, and the work year is back into full swing. The social calendar is settling back down to a normal level and weekly routines are resuming.

So many of our clients come to us confused and overwhelmed by all the conflicting food, exercise and wellness advice they hear in the media and from their social circle. It can be hard to know what is accurate or what is right for their individual case.

Thankfully, our clients have taken the first step of breaking out of this cycle by booking a DEXA scan and getting a baseline. With our scans, we can provide you with a true picture of your health, not just your weight. We provide you with a breakdown of fat tissue versus lean muscle mass, and valuable insight into where your body is storing that fat. The health implications of hidden abdominal fat can be fatal, so getting a true picture of your inner health is a very effective motivator for change in a way that doing up your jeans or looking good in a bikini might not be for some people. Did you know that the Body Measure DEXA scanner is the only model in the world where you can actually see your visceral fat?

What to expect from a DEXA scan?

Getting a DEXA scan is simple and non-invasive. Unlike old fashioned, and often inaccurate skin fold testing you are fully clothed for the scan. We’ll get you to remove all metal from your body, then lie on the DEXA table, where the scan takes about five minutes.

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We’ll then use the results to provide you with a comprehensive breakdown of your body composition. You’ll be provided with:

  • Your body fat percentage
  • Your total muscle mass
  • The total fat on your body
  • The location of your body fat (intra-muscular, subcutaneous, and the dangerous visceral fat in the abdominal region)
  • Bone weight and bone density
  • Your basal metabolic rate (BMR)
  • Your BMI
  • An overview of how much fat you need to lose to achieve your goals

Our clients find this process extremely valuable and highly motivating towards their body composition goals.

Paula Beckton, a contestant on Channel 7’s Bringing Sexy Back, reflects the sentiments of many of our clients, saying that, “having a DEXA scan at the start really sets the pace and allows you to be very clear on what your starting point is and what you want to get away from being.”

So you’ve had a scan, what next?

We’ll provide you with effective suggestions of diet and lifestyle changes that you can make that will help you to achieve your wellness goals. To keep you motivated, we recommend periodic scans to review your process, something that Paula has found very useful. As she says, “when you lose weight, you sometimes don’t see yourself how much weight you have lost. You might think, oh, I’ve only lost 12 kilograms, but when a scan can show you what that 12 kilograms actually means in health and not just weight, it can really give you a mental edge to continue to work towards your goals.”

We find that nutrition and exercise is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. All bodies respond differently, and with a follow up scan you can see how your unique body is changing and assess if further tweaks need to be made to get you results, rather than being frustrated by your progress.

So, what are you waiting for? Book in now and make this February fabulous!

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Is losing weight your New Year resolution? Here’s why we think you need to change your goal

Every year as the clock clicks over from 11.59pm on 31 December to 12.00am on 1 January, millions of people worldwide resolve that this is the year that they are going to lose weight. Promotions will abound for January detoxes, special deals on the latest meal replacement shake craze, and all the diet companies will boost their advertising spend to capture the good intentions (not to mention the hard earned dollars) of those millions. And without a doubt, some of those people will lose weight, and lose it quickly. They’ll feel very pleased with themselves, go back to living normally and BAM, a few months later that weight is right back.

Why weight loss shouldn’t be the goal

The reason behind this yo-yo weight loss and gain cycle is simple. For most people, when they lose weight quickly what they are actually losing is water and muscle tissue. This is then a double edged sword for lean muscle mass is a very effective fat burner, so not only do you lose the muscle tissue you also then create an environment where your body is less able to burn off kilojoules.weightbearingexercise-dexa-bodymeasure-sydney-crowsnest

We believe it is much better to shift your focus to fat loss. Yes, the numbers will probably still pleasingly head downwards on your scales for a nice little bit of reinforcement, but the approach taken to achieve this goal is different. You’re not going to be looking for a quick fix, but rather making lifestyle changes that will set you up for a lifetime of good health.

How to promote fat loss

One of the most important factors in promoting fat loss, especially that dangerous fat around your abdomen, is regular exercise. Weight bearing exercise to build lean muscle tissue should be an integral part of your weekly fitness routine, combined with whatever other activities you enjoy.

What you are eating of course also plays an incredibly important role in fat loss. There’s loads of diets and approaches to food out there that go in and out of favour, so our advice is to cut down on processed foods, prioritise lots of vegetables in particular leafy greens, and avoid too much sugar (by the way, we’ve said it before, but alcohol is pretty much carbohydrate – i.e. sugar!). Don’t fall into the trap of eating “low-fat” foods, as typically the fat is replaced by a high amount of sugar to make the food more palatable. Choose quality fats such as olive oil, coconut oil and animal fat from free range, grass fed meat. Quality fat in sensible quantities are an important element of overall health. Keep the mantra “Just Eat Real Food” in your mind when making your food choices.

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“But I can’t see fat loss on my scales?” How to know if you are getting results?

It can be hard to give up the thrall of the bathroom scales when you shift to focusing on fat loss rather than weight loss. And for most people, they will absolutely lose kilos when they first embark on this lifestyle change, but it doesn’t show the full picture.

In contrast, regular DEXA scans can show how your body composition is changing and give you visual proof of fat tissue being replaced by lean muscle mass. We can show you how many kilos of fat you have lost, not just how many kilos of fat, water and muscle you have. Our clients find that this information is very motivating and helps to no only ensure their training is on track, but maintain their lifestyle changes long after rapid weight loss has stopped and they move into maintenance phases of health.