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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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Can you convert Fat into Muscle?

Fat into Muscle.  Myth or fact?

When a client says they want to turn their fat into muscle what they are really saying is that they want to lose fat and gain muscle!

Now, there are really two goals in that sentence;

1. Reduce fat

2. Gain muscle.
This is a great goal and losing fat and gaining muscle is the fastest way to improve your body composition. But can it be done at the same time? Well the question is what you need to do to:

1. Loose fat

2. Gain muscle

To lose fat, you need to be in a caloric deficit.

For muscle gain, you need to be in a caloric surplus.

Weight gain or weight loss is essentially calories in vs calories out. When we burn more than what we consume, we lose weight & when we consume more than what we burn, we gain weight!

So you can see that these two goals are in opposition to each other and after 7,500 DEXA scans we know that for long-term body composition changes it is best to lose fat first and then build muscle! So how many calories do I need to be consuming to lose fat, and how many calories do I need to gain muscle? Well, this is a very individualised and person-specific question.

Factors that affect your ability to lose fat and to gain muscle, include:

  • your age
  • amount of lean tissue mass
  • hormonal profile
  • gut health
  • visceral fat levels
  • current fitness levels and
  • your gender

The most accurate and reliable method to understand your metabolism is with a “Metabolic test”. This test takes the guesswork out! It measures your metabolism accurately, based on where you are at today! It’s quick and easy and the results are given to you on the spot.
To summarise. You cannot directly convert fat into muscle (or muscle to fat) and the best way to improve your body composition is to know exactly how many calories to eat for fat loss and how many calories to eat for muscle gain. The best way to know this is to come in and get a metabolic test, and have your results explained with one of our sports scientists at Body Measure.

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Not happy with your DEXA scan results? It’s not personal

We’ll be upfront. Having a DEXA scan can sometimes be a bit confronting. Knowing EXACTLY how much fat is on your body, how much of your weight is fat or muscle, and where you are storing fat can sometimes feel like a bit too much information.

But, here’s the thing to remember – it’s just data.

It’s what you do with the data that matters. There’s very little point in getting upset because you’ve discovered that you’re not as healthy as you thought, or that you’re thin-inside-fat-outside (TOFI).

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Instead, see that information as a gift. The old saying that knowledge is power can serve you well. You have the knowledge about your body, its composition and your overall health, and you have the power to use that knowledge to make behaviour changes that WILL have an impact. And once you’ve made those changes, you can come in for a follow up DEXA scan and be presented with the visual evidence that your choices are making a difference.

What if it’s the lack of progress on the second scan that is the problem

Ah, yes, this is a common scenario. And we usually find there are three usual reasons behind the lack of results:

Focusing too much on exercise but still eating whatever you want

Exercise is great for building muscle, cardiovascular health and mental wellbeing. It’s not, however, great for fat loss. Fat loss really needs to be driven from the kitchen. You can’t outrun a bad diet!

Over exercising

Yes, exercise is good and we should aim to be active every day. But being active every day doesn’t mean punishing yourself in the gym for 90 minutes six days a week. Overexercising is a major cause of cortisol spikes which encourage your body to store fat. A DEXA scan can help us to devise the optimum training regime for you, but typically a great week of activity would look something like this: two to three strength workouts, one to two sprinting sessions of less than 10 minutes each, and generally being active in a gentle way every day. This means walking the dog, doing the gardening and housework, maybe going for a surf – basically activities that you enjoy and add to your quality of life.

Fear of fat:

Yes, not eating enough fat is a big problem for many of our clients. goodfat-omega3-dexa-bodymeasure-crowsnest-sydney-dexascanningFirstly, low fat foods are often supplemented with sugar to make them taste better, and are less satiating so you end up eating more than you would have otherwise. Secondly, eating high quality fats – like avocados, eggs, grass fed meats and sustainable oily fish – helps become more lean and reduce body fat by improving the liver’s ability to burn fat.

Have you come in for a DEXA scan yet? Are you anxious about what the results might reveal? Don’t be scared, our experienced team is here to help you understand the data and develop a realistic and achievable action plan for you to get the results you want. Call us today on 9460 8502 to book an appointment at our Crows Nest clinic.

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What’s more important – diet or exercise?

It’s a question we regularly hear when clients come in for a DEXA scan: “What’s more important, diet or exercise?” The short answer is they both are. But you’re not reading this for the short answer, are you? And if you’ve been trying to run your way into a smaller clothing size, then you’re probably going to end up disappointed…

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What’s your goal?

Most of our clients at Body Measure are looking to make physical changes to their bodies: reduce fat, shift weight and build lean muscle mass. Our DEXA scans help to provide you with the data points to track those changes and get the best results for your individual circumstances. When it comes to exercise, we’re big proponents of strength training to build muscle, which in turn will help you to burn fat.

But, to really lose fat, you’ll see better results from time spent in the kitchen than time spent in the gym. This is because losing fat and weight does rely on being calorie negative – burning more calories than you are ingesting. And because the human body is very efficient with how it expends energy, you have to run an awful lot to compensate for eating more than your body requires. For example, one study found that to lose about 1 kilogram of fat, study participants had to exercise for 77 hours! That’s a lot of time that could be spent preparing healthy meals rather than phoning for a pizza…

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As well as exercise not actually burning that many calories, people tend to be REALLY bad at estimating calories in versus calories out. Studies have shown that when people are told to eat the amount of food that they believed they burned in calories exercising, they overestimate badly. How badly? Two to three times the amount-of-calories-they-actually-burnt-badly.

How to prioritise your time

In the modern world, people are more inclined to find 30 minutes in their day to go to the gym, or go for a walk, or even just get off the bus a stop or two earlier, than they are to cook. We are constantly bombarded by messages by food manufacturers about how we don’t have time to cook, or that cooking is difficult.

But, here’s the truth of it: taking responsibility for what goes into your mouth is one of the most important steps you can take towards better health. For most people, you are eating three to five times a day. Taking a bit of time each day to make active choices about those foods will help you on your fat loss journey more than any “I worked so hard I’m going to vomit” personal training session.

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Here’s four simple tips to help you find the time to eat better:

  1. Chopping vegetables for dinner? Take 30 seconds to chop an extra carrot and put the sticks in a sealed container for snacking over the next couple of days.
  2. Bag up some snacks. Pre-portion ziplock bags of nuts and together with a small piece of fruit, you’ve got yourself a great little mix of healthy carbs, protein and fats.
  3. Make friends with your freezer and create your own stash of ready-meals.
  4. Take 30 minutes each week to plan your meals. For bonus credit, find an hour or two for a food prep and cook up session

The bottom line

Exercise is very important for health. It helps balance your hormones and build muscle, which is fat burning. It helps you to feel more energised and is critical for cardio-vascular health. Exercising can also, for some people, make them eat better (if you don’t fall prey to the “I worked out today so I can have that big slice of cake” trap!).

But, ultimately you can’t out-exercise a bad diet.

What are your tips for eating better? Have you had better results from diet, exercise or a combination of the two?