Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Carb Cycling

Carb cycling seems to be the buzz word in weight loss and lots of people have been asking me about what i think and should they consider doing it. So after dozens of people asking me this question, i thought it would be best to share carb cycling with all of you here. it is pretty similar to zig zagging of you ask me, but many may disagree. people have also asked me to design a weight loss program using carb cycling, but honestly, its real easy to design your own program, once you understand the principles behind carb cycling.

What is carb cycling?
Carb cycling is a method of cycling / changing the amount of carbs you take, to ensure that you don't always consume to same amount of carbs all the time. Most of us have a certain routine when it comes to eating and carb cycling helps to break up this routine. so instead of eating a steady amount of carbohydrates every day, the idea is to vary it and confuse your body.

What are the benefits of carb cycling?
oh boy... i could go on and on about why this is beneficial, but below are just some of the main benefits of carb cycling

Its not boring - most people quit their diets because they just get bored with the limited food they are allowed to eat. With carb cycling, it allows you to lose weight while indulging in carbs every once in a while. So you don't feel deprived and you are able to continue your diet program for a longer period of time
It prevents muscle loss - too many diets out there focus on just reducing your caloric intake drastically to see weight loss results. The problem is, if you cut down your calories too much and maintain that for a pro longed period, you end up losing healthy muscle mass. Every weight loss program should be focused on losing fat... and nothing else.
Your metabolism won't go down - With most diets, it works well for a while, but eventually your body will get used to it and your metabolic rate will drop as it adjusts itself to the amount of food that is coming in. Ideally, you should try to keep your metabolic rate up, so you burn fat even when you are resting.

OK, those are just some of the many benefits of carb cycling so you can see, it is a really good weight loss plan. But how exactly does it work? Well there is no hard and fast rule about how exactly you should do carb cycling, but in general, you are going to divide your days in Low carb days and high carb days. During low carb days, you are going to drop your carb intake to about 150 to 200 grams of carbs per day and on high carb days, you will be allowed to consume between 300 to 400 grams of carbohydrates a day. Of course this is just a recommendation and will vary from person to to person based on age, gender, physical activity etc. Some carb cycling diets even include a zero carb day... which means you only consume 25g of carbs or less on that day. So this again really depends on how serious you are with it. It is extremely important to note that regardless of whether its a high carb or low carb day, you must ensure you get enough protein at all times. How much?

For the average joe who doesn't do any exercise, the minimum protein you will need is 0.37g of protein per pound of body weight. so if you weigh 150 pounds, then you are looking at about
0.37 x 150 = 55g of protein. this is the minimum recommendation.

For more serious workout-holics and fitness junkies, it is usually recommended that you take about 0.5 to 0.8g of protein per pound of body weight. if you are lifting heavy and want to gain muscle mass, lean toward 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight. So if you are 200 pound heavy lifting superman, you are looking at about 160g of protein a day.

The most basic plan of carb cycling i can think of is doing low carb days for 3 or 4 days and then switching to a high carb day for 1 or 2 days and then just repeating after that. So lets just say Monday - Thursday is your low carb day... then friday and saturday will be your high carb day. Through out this period, you are going to maintain the amount of protein you take... regardless of what day it is. The only thing that changes is the amount of carbs you take.

Ideally, you want to keep your high carb days on days that you do workout. The reason is, you are going to use up that energy, so its best to have high carb days on workout days and low carb days on non workout days. So now that you understand the basic concept of carb cycling, you can play around with it and find something that works for you.

Some plans do zero carb for 2 days, low carb for 2 days and 2 days of high carb days and then repeat. Some do 5 days of low carb and 2 days of high carbs. So you really can mix this around anyway you want. ideally if your aim is weight loss, you want to ensure that you have more low carb days per week compared to high carb days. This is just a general rule of thumb.

So should you try carb cycling? Why not. It may be tiring at first to figure out how many grams of carbs you are allowed in the beginning, but once you get the hang of it, its pretty easy. I honestly think its an excellent weight loss technique and its easy enough for anyone to do. You can adjust the difficulty based on your own preferences and seriousness so it really is flexible. Best part is, its not a starvation diet that denies you from any guilty pleasures for long periods of times. So that is a definite thumbs up for me. Try carb cycling and see. Mix it around, start slow and see what kind of results you get. As you get used to it, increase your number of low carb days and cut down the amount of carbs you take on both high carb and low carb days. You will be amazed with the results. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sometime Food & Everyday Food

I went to a buffet for lunch yesterday and as usual, i got the same comments from the group i was with "Apa ni, fitness instructor eating ice cream and other unhealthy food?" I know they meant it jokingly and didn't mean it in any hostile manner. But it got me thinking that lots of people out there think that fitness instructors are like monks who refrain from the pleasures of life. So i thought i would like to set the record straight.

Yes, i am into fitness and YES i do like to take care of my body, but that does not mean that i go overboard with it. Yes i drink alcohol from time to time, eat roti canai every once in a while and even the all sinful KFC ever so occasionally. My point is, what i advocate to people is doing things in moderation and not going to either extremes. To be honest, it irks me when i read articles written by so called fitness gurus who advocate no salt, no sugar, no this and that 24/7. I can't live like that, and neither do i expect anyone else to do that as well. If you can and you like that sort of thing, then go ahead. But for me, i advocate a path of moderation that is easier to follow and stick with. anyone want to follow me on this? you are more than welcome to join the fun side of fitness.

Hence there is the concept of sometime food and everyday food which i absolutely love and would like to share it with you guys. In short, its important to identify what is it that we eat most of the time, and what is it that we eat some of the times.

Sometime food - These are the foods that you eat occasionally to celebrate or just to indulge. Think of an expensive bottle of wine or champagne. You save it for that special occasion and it should not be taken with your dinner every night. For that, you would use dinner /table wines which are more affordable. So the concept here is similar.

Everyday food - Now this the food you are going to be eating most of the time. How often? At least more than 70% of the time. This is just everyday foods like bread, rice etc.

Now in order for this concept to work for you, you need to be clear on what foods you put in your sometime food category and what foods you put in your everyday food category. its simple, your everyday food, should be all that healthy stuff - Fruits, raw vegetables, lean meat, brown rice, chappati, thosai. You get the picture. Sometime food, is the food that you go out an indulge, not all the time, but some of the time. In here, you are going to throw in all the so called unhealthy foods such as you fast food, roti canai and anything else that is sinful. The problem i notice with most people is, that their everyday food is unhealthy and when they feel guilty (maybe after that annual medical check up) they decide to go on a diet or go healthy for awhile. Because they can't sustain it, they end up swinging back to their old habits of eating unhealthy food again. Most people's everyday food is unhealthy, and their sometime food is the one that is healthy. You need to turn it around.

If you are one of the people like i mentioned above, then you clearly want to take action and start changing your sometime food and everyday food. I would suggest that you do it slowly and progressively. Just like you can't run 10km on your first day of training, similarly you can't switch your diet overnight just like that. start slow and keep changing more and more things as you move along.

So back to my buffet story... why is it that i was eating everything under the sun? Well i don't eat buffets everyday. At most, maybe once in 3 or 4 months. So this is really something that is sometime food. when i do go to the buffet, i am going to eat as much as i can... or indulge, because i don't do it all the time. If you work in the hotel and eat the buffet everyday, then you will need to be more careful and you can't indulge in everything like i did... because then, the buffet has become your everyday food... and everyday food should be the healthy stuff, not the other way around.

Now that you understand this concept, your will also understand how it is you see slim people eating unhealthy food, and yet they stay slim. They don't do it everyday, they do it some of the time. So what is your sometime food and everyday food? Once you understand this concept and use it properly, you will be able to see great results. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What Supplements Should I Take for Optimal Health

For optimal health, our body needs a steady supply of vitamins, phytonutrients, anti oxidants and minerals. Ideally, we should try to get these nutrients from our food, but in today's hectic world, ensuring we get enough from our food alone is a huge challenge. With most people eating processed food and eating out all the time, it really becomes difficult to ensure your body gets enough of all the essential ingredients it needs to keep itself in optimum health.

The solution - supplementation. Its no wonder that hundreds of companies out there saw the need for supplementation and believe me, it is big business. Now the key here to note is that the supplement capsules you take should be used to supplement the deficiency of certain nutrients from our food. It should not be used as a replacement. So where possible, you still want to make sure you try to eat healthy food. But it is a good idea to still supplement your nutrition daily just to ensure you get enough for to maintain optimal health level.

So there was a problem, and then there is a solution. However, the solution has given rise to yet another problem. If you were to walk into a pharmacy today, there will be hundreds of possible vitamins and supplements that you can take. From garlic extract to Omega 3 to milk thistle, there are just so many supplements out there to choose from that it can be confusing. The big question is, should i be taking all of them? If you were to ask the person in the pharmacy, they will tell you YES, Garlic extract helps to promote A,B,C and prevent D,E and F while milk thistle helps to do G,H and I and so on. Ever get caught in this situation before? I know i have. All you want is a supplement to ensure you get enough essential nutrients to stay healthy. I don't want to take 30 tablets and capsules a day. Is there a solution?

Yes there is. You really don't need to swallow 30 different tablets to get all the nutrients you need to stay healthy. Like i mentioned earlier, most of nutrition should come from your food. So if you do have a relatively healthy and balanced diet, you won't need to swallow so many tablets. Unless you have a specific condition or deficiency, you really don't need all those products. To see what each vitamin and mineral does and whether you should invest in it, check out the link below. Its gives you a brief explanation of what each vitamin and mineral does

As for me, here are the supplements that i take daily to stay healthy.
  • One multivitamin a day (this covers most of your daily vitamin needs)
  • 1000mg of Vitamin C
  • Nutrilite Double X
  • Omega 3 (to help balance out the ratio of Omega 3 & 6. Most chronic health problems today are being attributed to too much Omega 6 and not enough Omega 3 to balance it out. )
Now you are probably wondering what double X is. Double X is essentially a supplement made from plant extracts such as alfalfa, parsley, acerola cherries and other plant materials recognized as being nutritionally beneficial. In short, double X helps to take away the guess work in nutrition supplementation. One serving of Double X a day ensures you get enough Vitamins, Minerals, Phytonutrients and anti oxidants all in one. Best part about Double X is, its 100% natural and comes from plant extracts, and not synthesized like other vitamins out there. So one dose of Double X really helps to ensure you get enough of everything to stay healthy. The other supplements, i am sure you are familiar with.

So what supplements should you be taking? I would highly recommend that you follow something like me unless you have a specific condition that requires additional supplementation. What i take daily is just the basic to ensure your body has enough of what it needs to maintain optimal health. i think most people out there will benefit tremendously by following my simple supplementation formula. Don't get tricked by the sales people in pharmacies. Do a little research to discover if you truly need anything else besides what i mentioned above. Again, the supplements i recommended up there are to be used as a supplement and not as a replacement. The best source is still your food. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments.