In Canada the winter months may seem ENDLESS, the layers of clothes are many and most people tend to go into some type of ‘hibernation mode’ (too much food, too little exercise). More often than not you might have experienced some weight gain. Or you could be in a building phase, which is typical during the winter months, and your intake has purposely been higher & workouts scaled back to allow for some gains/ growth. In either case you will have found yourself to be carrying a bit more cushion than you might like.
At the first sign of spring, the gyms seem to come alive with those looking to perfect their ‘summer body’. The average person will spend hours on end on their cardio machine of choice in hopes of shedding unwanted weight gain and/or reduce their food intake way too much. This will only work against your body by killing your metabolism resulting in little to no change at all.
Here are some tips to help rev up your metabolism so that you can shed those last stubborn pounds and reveal your summer physique.
Better Food Quality. Your meals should consist of nutrient dense, whole foods. Cut out sugar & high processed foods as these do nothing to promote optimal body composition and only put you at risk for metabolic diseases. Be sure to consume a lot of dark leafy vegetables (aim for 1-2 cups per meal), anti-oxidant rich fruits and beneficial fats.
Protein With Every Meal. High-quality, high-protein intake keep you feeling full longer. It also sustains lean mass which in turn increases your metabolic rate (more muscle mass= more calories burned at rest). This is very important if you are trying to lose body fat. Also, don’t make the mistake of cutting calories without increasing protein as this will cause you to lose muscle mass along with fat mass, lowering your metabolism. Include lean red meat, fish, eggs in your meals. A clean, low-carb protein powder can help supplement your diet.
Include 4-5 Days of Weight Training. In order to look lean & tight you need to increase your muscle mass and reduce body fat. To do this you need to make sure you are really stressing out your muscles. Repeated tension or load on the muscles will cause the muscle to adapt and grow over time. Most people don’t lift heavy enough, or they continuously lift for the same amount of high reps and only 3 sets per exercise. Proper stress will only occur if you vary your training; ex: High-volume training (high reps, mod weight), high-load training (4+ sets, 4-6 reps, 85-90% of 1RM), varied tempo. Also be sure to include big compound movements (squats, deadlifts, pulls, presses, chin-ups) as these are multi-joint exercises and recruit major muscles.
Sprints vs. Steady State Cardio. While distance running (steady state cardio) has its benefits (heart friendly), if you are looking to seriously burn off body fat, incorporate sprint training into your workout regime. The high intensity of sprint training causes the same metabolic stress on the body as weight training. Just take a look at a sprinter’s body vs a marathoner. Have you ever seen a sprinter who carries extra cushion on them? Nope, neither have I.
Reduce Stress. High levels of stress from work/ every day life will result in high levels of cortisol being released into the body. This will actually lead to an increase in fat mass especially around your mid-section. Take time to unwind & reduce your stress levels. Meditation, breathing exercises, yoga are just a few ways you can reduce stress levels.
Recovery. Give your body rest. All the hard work you put in the gym, although beneficial, is still a stress placed on your body. Too much of a good thing can ultimately lead to overuse injuries, fatigue and even weaken your immune system. Allow your body time to repair & rebuild, and always listen to your body.
Happy Training 🙂
You’ve probably all been told that to see the results you want, you need to put in the work.
It takes dedication, commitment, perseverance, sacrifice and patience. Notice I did not mention time. I purposely left time out because I believe that if you are commited to your goals then you will make sure to dedicate the time necessary to achieve your goals. There is no way around it. You either have results or excuses.. not both.
I will talk a little about myself and my fitness goals:
I had gained 50 pds with my recent pregnancy.. I guess that’s just how my body works (I had gained 60pds with my first pregnancy). I get what it is to look at yourself after baby is born and not recognize your body. You still look pregnant..and it’s frustrating.
My goal throughout my pregnancy was to keep as active as I could. I continued my workouts (with obvious adjustments) until a few pregnancy-related discomforts didn’t allow me to lift weights anymore..at around the 7 month mark. I then focused on prenatal yoga & stretching.
Once my son was born & I passed the 6 week mark I resumed my weight training. My goal was to shed my baby weight and tighten up my abdominal section by October (my son was born in January). The truth was, having a baby around again left me with little time for myself & zero energy. But I made the effort to workout at least 2x/week and keep my food as clean as I could.
As the months passed, I developed a nice little routine. I would do my metobolic workouts from home, and make it to the gym for my weight training sessions (which ended up being late at night). I’ll be honest and say that there were many times I just didn’t have the energy to go to the gym or I just wanted to stay home.. and sometimes I did. But I didn’t beat myself up over it.. I just made up for it the next day.
I shed the baby weight by the time October rolled around and I felt comfortable in a bikini (I had a destination wedding to attend), which felt great!
My current goal is to focus on gaining more definition. At the moment I don’t have definitive time of where I want to be by “X date”. I just train and eat clean ( I do indulge here & there) and I don’t feel guilty about it.
• I currently weight train 3x/week
• Do 1 metabolic workout at home
• I eat 5-6x/day
• Drink about 2L of water/day
We all have jobs, spouses, kids, social lives; but what you need to do is dedicate yourself to your goals, commit time to reaching them, understand that there will need to be some sacrifices made along the way, and have perserverance when faced with obstacles.
With dedication and commitment no goal is unattainable ☺
Ingredients (for Fruity Chicken Skewers)
☆Bamboo skewer sticks
☆Boneless skinless chicken breast (1-inch cubed), 6 oz (170 g)
☆Pineapple (1-inch cubed), 3 pieces
☆Apple (core removed, 1-inch cubed), 3 pieces
☆Red pepper (cut into large pieces), 3 pieces
☆Onion (cut into large pieces), 3 pieces
☆Butter (melted), 1 tbsp
☆Ginger, ½ tsp
☆Salt, ¼ tsp
☆Chili powder, ¼ tsp
•Serves 1 large or 2 small.
•10 min. Preparation Time
•15 min. Cooking Time
• Preheat oven to 350°F. Carefully slide ingredients onto the skewer using lots of chicken. (Ex: chicken-pineapple-chicken-apple-chicken-red pepper-chicken-onion-chicken).
•Continue making skewers until the chicken is used up.
•Combine melted butter, ginger, salt and chili powder in a small bowl.
•Place skewers on a baking tray or in a casserole dish and brush with the butter mixture on all sides. •Place skewers in oven and bake until chicken is cooked through (12-15 minutes).
•Serves 1 large or 2 small.
Variations & Options
》For a lower-calorie meal, substitute fruit with vegetables. Zucchini and garlic are great options. For a more tenderized and flavorful meat, marinate the skewers for a couple of hours (or over night) in a mixture of 2 tablespoons oil, 3 tablespoons acidic juice (lemon, lime or orange), ½ teaspoon ginger and salt and pepper to taste.
Ingredients (for Stuffed Zucchini)
☆Zucchini (medium, halved lenghwise), 2
☆Olive oil cooking spray
☆Onion (finely diced), ¼ cup
☆Fresh garlic (minced), 1 tsp
☆Shitake or portobello mushrooms (small diced), ¼ cup
☆Tomato (finely diced), ¼ cup
☆Low-fat feta cheese (crumbled), ¼ cup
☆Pecans (crushed), ¼ cup
☆Tomato sauce, ½ cup
•Serves 1 large or 2 small.
•5 min. Preparation Time
•10 min. Cooking Time
•Preheat the oven at 375°F.
•Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. •Using a spoon and knife (if needed) remove all the white flesh (do not discard the skin or flesh). If the green skin breaks don’t worry.
•Preheat a large non-stick frying pan on medium heat.
•Lightly coat with spray and add the white zucchini flesh, onion, garlic and mushrooms.
•Sauté until onions are lightly browned and liquids have evaporated.
•Remove from heat. Add tomato, feta cheese and pecans to the pan. •Stuff the zucchini peel with the heated mixture.
•Reform the peel around the stuffing.
•Add to a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 30 minutes.
•Remove from oven and serve with warm tomato sauce.
•Serves 1 large or 2 small.
Variations & Options
》For an anytime meal option,
serve with Steamed Halibut.
(Source: Gourmet Nutrition V2)
So these bad boys can be used as a snack or post workout meal. The goodness of peanut butter and chocolate in a bite-sized snack.
▪ ½ cup (125 mL) of cocoa powder
▪ ¼ cup (75 mL) of chocolate whey protein powder
▪ ¼ cup (75 mL) coconut flour
▪ ¼ cup (75 mL) organic quinoa flour
▪ 1tsp of baking soda
▪ 1tsp of vanilla extract (optional)
▪ 3 large cooked beets, mashed
▪ ½ cup (125 mL) liquid egg whites
▪ ½ cup (125 mL) of milk
▪ Peanut or other nut butter
▪ Unsweetened shredded coconut
1 delicious square
☆40-50 minutes (15 min preparation time + 25-35 min cooking time)
☆Preheat oven to 320F (160C).
☆Blend all dry ingredients together in a large bowl
☆In a smaller bowl, blend all moist ingredients (i.e. beets, egg whites, milk).
☆Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix.
☆Pour into greased baking dish.
☆Bake for 25-35 minutes at 320 F (160C), or until the cake cooks through. (Keep an eye on it – don’t let it overcook because then it’ll get super dry and rubbery.)
Spread a little peanut or nut butter on top or sprinkle unsweetened shredded coconut!
The average person who is trying to lose weight will usually cut out or severely reduce their carbohydrate intake. Sure they will experience an initial weight loss of anywhere between 5 – 15pds within the first 2 weeks. A simple and fast solution.. or so they think. The majority of that weight lost will be from water and mucle tissue.
Energy levels are the first to be affected from low carb diets, followed by headaches, cravings (usually for junk food), mood swings, slowed metabolism. The longer you are on a carb restricted diet the more it will take a toll on your body. Imagine not being able to go up a flight of stairs without losing your breath…or to experience hair thinning/ loss. These serious side effects can be a result of almost non-existent carbs for too long.
Your body cannot function without carbs. Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for all of our body’s functions. From muscular contraction, to proper brain function, to immune response.. carbohydrates are one of the main nutrients your body cannot do without.
Simple Carbs vs. Complex Carbs
A simple carb is absorbed by the body quickly (ex: a piece of cake, pasta, white rice) compared to a lower glycemic complex carb (ex: oatmeal, nuts, beans) which is digested and absorbed by the body at a slower rate.
Once broken down and absorbed, these monosaccharides/sugars go to the liver to fill energy stores. After that, they enter the bloodstream and venture out to the other cells of the body and muscle tissue.
That being said, not all carbs are created equal. Depending on whether you are trying to lose body fat, maintain, or build, the majority of your carbs should be nutritious complex carbs.
Carbohydrates & Exercise
When you are weight training, carbs are the main fuel used by the muscles during a workout. Glycogen (carbs stored in the muscle cells) provides energy for workouts, allowing you to lift more and build more muscle. Muscle is metabolically active tissue, meaning it burns alot more calories than fat. The more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism. So if you’re lacking this macronutrient, you’ll run out of gas fairly quickly and your workout sessions will suffer.
The most important time to consume carbs is AFTER training. Since your body uses glycogen for energy during an anaerobic weight training workout, your glycogen stores will be depleted after your weight training workout. By consuming a high amount of carbs right after your session, the carbs will be shuttled directly into the muscle cells instead of the fat cells. The depleted glycogen stores in your muscles will act like a sponge and soak up all those carbs into the muscle cells. The result will be bigger and fuller muscles with a much quicker recovery period. If you do not replace those burned carbs immediately after your training session, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to increase your muscle growth and enhance muscle recovery and recuperation.
How Much Do I Need?
For the average person carbohydrate intake should be about 130 grams per day. Higher amounts of carbohydrates are needed with increased muscle mass and increased physical activity levels. However, excessive carbohydrate consumption will be stored for future use (as fat or glycogen).
So don’t be afraid to consume carbs.. it is an essential macronutrient that your body needs in order to function at its optimal level. Focus on including healthy complex carbohydrates into your meals and your body will thank you!