Good nutrition

GOOD NUTRITION means more than weight loss or gain.

It is about improved performance, improved health and of course, body composition.

Besides supporting energy balance and achieving optimal fat-muscle ratios, good nutrition means tailoring this to you and choosing the foods that work with you rather than what is 'good' or 'correct.'

QUALITY

Nutrient density refers to those foods that are packed with essential nutrients like protein, fats and unprocessed carbohydrates, and these are the foods that will keep you fuller for longer and will not play too much with your blood sugar levels.

For instance, people run away from fats or full fat natural products because they either think are unhealthy or have too many calories.

NUTRIENTS

Good fats such as those found in avocado, full fat yogurt, eggs, natural fresh cheese and salmon, are the best for you. I eat avocado every single day for breakfast, with my scrambled eggs and mozzarella. It keeps me full for many hours and my body absolutely loves it. These foods may be rich in calories and smaller in quantity but you will not eat so often. Because there is no need to. Your body gets a good number of essential nutrients and stays satisfied.

The villains are processed sugars and alcohol, which give you empty calories, no nutrients whatsoever and raise your blood sugars sky high. This in turn will encourage fat accumulation, resistance to insulin and many other health complications.

Find those foods that work for you and what your body seems to like more rather than what is good or correct, like I said before. You will feel better, more energised and perform better throughout the day.

Finally, a quick point with regards to food intolerance. If you notice that after eating milk/ dairy or grains you feel a bit bloated or some discomfort, you may have intolerance to gluten or lactose.

STICK WITH IT IF YOU CAN

My take home and key point to you is, whatever you chose to do, make sure you can sustain it and be consistent with day in and day out because consistency over time is what will give you long lasting results.

If you can’t keep up with your choices, forget it, It is not for you. Reassess and chose again. And this goes for every choice you make.

Stay awesome!

Mari CurteanuNUTRIT, FOOD, FAT
One for smoothie lovers

If you love your protein smoothies, try this one and "dress it" up according to your targets.

FOR FAT LOSS

Handful of frozen mix berries

One scoop of your favourite whey protein flavour

200ml – coconut water

 

FOR MUSCLE GAIN

Handful of frozen mix berries

One scoop of your favourite whey protein flavour

200ml – coconut water

1 fresh banana - sliced

Simply put all ingredients in your blender starting with the liquid, and just buzz away until nice and creamy. Dive in!

 

Stay awesome!

 

 

Mari Curteanu
Belly issues?

CRUNCHES or MUNCHES?

Most people believe that belly fat is developed around the lower part of trunk because of lack of exercise of that area.

This is clearly a misconception, especially when you see people that can match this description struggling with those crunches in the gym. I see this all the time.

The truth is that overall excess body fat and belly fat is an adaptation of your body trying to adjust with eating more food than you need. This process does not happen overnight. It takes some time and consistency to get there.

When you eat food, your body collects the energy from the food into the liver and in the muscles. The cells of these tissues have a limited amount to store energy. Therefore any excess goes to the adipose tissue (the fat cells under the skin tissue).

It is amazing how nature has created us. We do have a storage facility too. The fat cells have unlimited capacity and can grow incredibly big. Therefore no matter how much we eat, we can store it on us.

To make it very clear, you can do as many as 1000 crunches every day, your abs will not even blink, unless your body fat goes down. The thinner the fat layer under the skin, the more chances you have to a flat tummy.

REPETITION

How do you get that layer to shrink?

Again. Consistency is key. All that extra ”energy” stored under the skin needs to be used through physical activities. You can also starve yourself if you want to, but that is not going to last too long and you will get it all back plus more. Guaranteed.

Physical activity is the only way to keep that away. Keep showing up every day and the results are just a matter of time.

Be active. Eat only when you are hungry. Be consistent. The idea is to create a deficit in your energy intake at the end of the day. So if you eat well, make sure you go and use that energy to sculpt your body.

Another point to clarify. The type of exercise itself does not determine from which area body fat will be used. In other words, the body does not pick and choose from which part of the body to use the fat. Instead, the overall fat is converted to energy.

Proper recovery and sleep is key when you are looking to lose weight, as some fat burning hormones are released during sleep. Really important. Yes fat loss also occurs during sleep.

THE POWER OF HABITS

To keep it simple and sum it up, the body is designed to adapt to whatever you consistently do. If you are an athlete, say a speed skater for example, your body will adapt to your activity so that you can perform it better.

If you don’t have an active lifestyle and you enjoy your extra food and drinks, your body will store everything for you under the skin.

Either way, this is called adaptation. Your body adapts. You can dictate how these adaptations should take effect for you.

Thank you for stopping by.

Stay awesome!

 

Mari Curteanu
Zero calories - Why?

 

The other day I was wondering in my own head, like we all do sometimes (okay most of the time) why would anyone manufacture calorie free food or beverages? I mean honestly, what is the purpose?

Do you buy these products thinking that you keep your calories intake low and maybe lose some weight? I know it is with a good intention, but please have a read further, you may change your mind.

And to just to clarify, I am talking about low or zero calorie manufactured food, not low in calories natural foods.

The truth is that the market goes with the trend. And the trend is always adjusting to what people think and need. What do we need now?

The trend seems to be EAT MORE (ALL YOU CAN) get taxed less by that scale. Right?

When did we really come to want food with no nutrients. Why would you want something that does not provide any kind of nourishment to your cells?

Why do we “stuff” our bodies (or even lives if you think of it) with meaningless stuff?

The truth is, we can never hack into or trick our natural built in survival system. Even if we do, is temporary.

GO FOR FULL FAT

We cannot support our human needs and body functions if we don’t provide good quality nutrients to our cells. Again, yes we can fill our tummy with zero calories foods or drinks, but it will only satisfy it temporary. You need calories to function.

Eating more food in terms of quantity with less nutrients or calories attached to it, does not mean that we will be fuller for longer or that you will lose weight. These manufactured foods, will vanish quickly from your system and you will want more because your body is not satisfied with it.

People tend to run away from full fat natural products and opt for low fat or processed foods instead. Everyone is free to make different choices for different reasons. But..

NUTRIENTS

When you eat food rich in natural nutrients, be it rich in calories too, there is no need to consume large amounts because your brain will send signals to the cells that enough is received. You will get a natural feeling of satiety. You will not feel hungry as often and you will not think about food all the time.

If you chose empty calories food, you will trick your brain for a bit and then you will crave more later. Simply because your body did not get what it naturally needs.

To sum it up, it is not about the quantity but the quality of food you consume.

 

YES its sounds tacky, but like they say LESS is MORE.

There is so much of natural good stuff that you can eat out there, why would you go for empty calories?

Of course, you can’t have all of it all the time just because is good for you. Just chose those foods that works best with you and go with that. When you feel you need a change, chose again.

You should think of your food as the best fuel you can offer your body to function at its best, according to your daily needs, routines and schedule. Why would you want to do otherwise?

Work with your body, not against it.

Help your body to function better, give it what it needs, always in good amounts, and get busy with doing other meaningful things that you are meant to do here.

Stay awesome!

 

 

Cardio, HIIT and LISS

The hottest topic in the fitness industry and common question asked by most people is:

Which type of cardio will enhance fat loss? LISS ( low intensity steady state cardio ) or HIIT ( high intensity interval training ) ?

First things first. There are two types of physical training: aerobic and anaerobic and here are the differences.

Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Training

Aerobic activity requires the presence of oxygen. Example of this type of activity can be: cardio machines, spinning, running, walking, aerobic classes, dancing, hiking, etc. It is the type of activity that primarily works type I muscle fibers (endurance muscles) or otherwise called slow twitch muscles.

These muscles are simply more efficient at generating oxygen for fuel and help muscle contractions for longer period of times, such as running a marathon. Cardio activities help to increase muscle endurance and generally helps the heart muscle to pump blood more efficiently. Aerobic activity is done at a pace you can sustain for an extended period.

Anaerobic activity is just the contrary of aerobic activity. Example of this type of activity can be: heavy weight lifting, intervals, sprints, jumping rope, explosive training, etc. Anaerobic training does not require the presence of oxygen. It works the type II muscle fibers (strength muscles) or otherwise called fast twitch muscles, which lead to greater size and strength of muscles.

These muscles can produce short bursts of power without the presence of oxygen because they use the energy available at the time to produce force. Therefore, they fatigue quickly. Sprinting until you have nothing left in the tank, or resistance training with heavy weights is anaerobic. This kind of activity cannot be extended for time periods like you can with aerobic exercise.

 

LISS – low intensity steady state cardio is aerobic, HIIT – high intensity interval training, is anaerobic.

There are benefits in favor of both type of activities when it comes to fat burning. HIIT tends to keep the body an increased metabolic rate even after the exercise and is time efficient. However, if you are a beginner when it comes to training, this may not be the best option for you. LISS may burn less fat than HIIT, however does the job and has other benefits when it comes to your cardiovascular system and a healthy strong heart.

It is always best to incorporate a mix of both and keep your activities as fun and as varied as possible. Always great to try new things and stay out of your comfort zone.

 

Thank you for stopping by.

Stay awesome!

Eating for fat loss

What kind of fitness or body composition goals do you have in mind for yourself?

Even if your goal is not focused solely on losing body fat, but instead to build muscle or get stronger, at some point you will still want to lean down and shed some body fat. That would most likely be around summer time, when you want to get your physique out in the sun.

If your goal is to lose a bigger proportion of body fat, this is definitely a good read for you.

The safest and most effective way to successfully reach your physical or fitness goals is to combine sound eating habits with regular activity and good rest. You will get there faster and at the same time feel great about it.

 

MOVE MORE THAN YOU EAT

Weight loss requires a deficit of calories. This can be done by adjusting your food intake and expending more energy. Creating this deficit only from food, may occur in excessive muscle loss, which can leave you feeling weak and hungry.

A healthy way to create an overall energy deficit is to move more than you eat. This will naturally increase your metabolism. 

EAT WHOLE FRESH NUTRITIOUS FOODS

Starving yourself is not the way to go. In fact that does not help at all.

If you want to control your hunger eat more natural foods and reduce or avoid processed products.

Choose whole fresh foods rich in nutrients. Proteins from lean meats such as fresh fish, turkey and chicken.  Green leafy veggies and pulses high in fibres. Essential fats from avocado and nuts.

Processed foods are poor in nutrients. Limiting the amount of refined carbohydrates coming from chocolate, cakes, biscuits, white bread and pasta is useful to achieve fat loss.

Eat more protein with veggies and less starchy or processed carbohydrates. Protein will keep you fuller for longer and will assist muscle repair and maintenance. Veggies tend to fill you up faster due to the size they add to the meal and are low in calories.

Eat small amounts of good fats such as those from avocado and nuts, they tend to keep your satiety levels high. Reduce the amount of snacking in between meals.

CONTROL CARBS TIMING

If you have had a tough workout and you feel depleted of energy, this is a good time for you to have some carbs. They will replenish the muscle glycogen lost during exercise, promoting recovery. 

A general macronutrients split for fat loss is 45% PROTEIN, 25 % CARBS and 30% FATS

TAKE AWAY

Regular activity combined with good nutrition is the way forward. Making informed small changes to your current diet is how you can begin. Understanding the quality of your food, their source and the effects it has on your body and performance, will lead you to a sustainable way of living.

 

Stay awesome!

 

 

 

 

 

Are you hungry?

ARE

YOU

HUNGRY?

FIRST QUESTION TO ASK YOURSELF

A BASIC INSTINCT

Why do we eat, really?

We eat (mostly) because we are hungry. Hunger is a basic survival instinct.

Just like when we are thirsty, sleepy or cold, our body responds.  When we feel cold we reach for something to cover up;  we don’t need to keep track of the temperature outside ourselves, because the body does that for us.

Same goes for hunger. We should let our body take care of it and eat when we are notified. I know ...easier said than done.

Big question. Do we really eat only when we are hungry?

Or maybe we just eat on the clock? How about for pleasure?

Many of us eat or don't eat out of stress -  I am talking from experience always (my own, just to clarify).

REAL HUNGER vs. 'FAKE' HUNGER

Someone asked me "how can I distinguish between real and fake hunger"

There is a way to understand when you are eating to feed your body and when you are eating for other reasons. All you need to do, is pay attention to your own body and actions.

NO WARNING

When you are physically hungry it starts with a small feeling of hunger which will slowly intensify. It gives you time to search for food, “hunt it”. You don’t need to keep track of the meal times, your body does it does it for you. It gives you a warning.

Emotional eating does not give you any warning. You suddenly crave to eat something. Maybe some left over birthday cake or a candy bar or just anything edible you can lay your eyes on. Sounds familiar? No warning with emotional eating.

COMPULSIVE SNACKING

You just suddenly munching on something and you don't even know how it got in your mouth in the first place. If you find yourself reaching for food too often or snacking for no reason, try to pay attention to what is happening in your life at that time. Is it a stressful period at work? Are you breaking up or going through an emotional roller-coaster? Are you about to take big decisions that will affect the rest of your life? Or maybe you are stuck where you don’t really want to be? This is mind hunger calling. But it is not calling for food or drinks. Is calling for action.

TO SUM IT UP

Our bodies have the best survival and navigation mechanisms on the planet. Listen to these.

Ignoring these basic signs and replacing them with what we think is good or right, may not be a wise idea in the long run. We need to pay attention to what our bodies are telling us.

Always trust all your natural instincts. 

Stay awesome!

The truth about weights

Weight training combined with cardiovascular exercise is the best foundation of health-based fitness.

Yes, a complete and balanced workout should combine both strength/weight training and cardio exercises.

Most people who are looking to lose weight, seem convinced that cardio is the only type of exercise they should perform. Women tend to stay away from weights because they “don’t want to get big” or “bulky”, or may I say “Hulky”?

The truth is that it takes a lot of effort, very strict eating habits and years of consistency to get very muscular. Especially for women, who have diminished chances to get there, simply because there is not enough testosterone in their body to make this happen.

Think of your muscle mass as your engine power. The more you have, the more calories/fuel you burn. For example, a Ferrari engine is powerful and burns plenty of fuel even when waiting at the traffic lights. That is how some people can afford to eat loads of food without storing it as adipose fat.

Therefore, if you are looking to get rid of extra weight, muscle mass is something you don’t want to lose. Excessive cardio may lead to muscle loss. It is best to keep it balanced.

As we grow older, we naturally lose muscle and this process can lead to low bone density which in turn may lead to osteoporosis and even injuries. Weight training improves both bone density and muscle mass, simply because of your body will adapt to support you performing this activity.

It is common for people with a low muscle mass to complain of joint problems, back problems and especially knees issues. That is because muscles keep the joints and tendons working properly. A weak knee for example, is in many cases the result of weak under exercised thigh muscles.

Sitting at the desk or in front of a screen most of the day, tend to weaken your back muscles and therefore you slouch. If you slouch your posture is not strong. This can lead to other physical imbalances. It can also affect your digestion and your breathing, because your chest muscles are tight and your diaphragm is compressed.

CONCLUSION

Weight training has many benefits.

Toned muscles,  assist you to maintain a postural strength over time. A good posture can tell a lot about a person’s confidence, health and lifestyle. 

Besides changing the way your body looks and improving your posture it will affect your mood and confidence in a positive way.

It's ideal that you include weight training in your routine. Ensure to perform the exercises in a safe and correct manner to avoid injuries. If you are not too confident get some expert help to get the basis right and then be free. It does not have to be heavy all at once, start easy and aim for progress.

Hope you've enjoyed this read.

Stay awesome!

Resting

Different training goals, entail different training loads and resting periods between sets. To gain optimal results, it is ideal to understand how these can be combined to get you closer to your fitness goal every day.

RECOVERY BETWEEN SETS

Resting periods between sets is key to the success of any strength training program and to get the best out of your workout. These can vary from 30 seconds (or less) up to 5 minutes. It all depends on your training type and goals.

Your body needs somewhere between 2 to 3 minutes for the energy (ATP molecule) stores to fully recover from a set of intense exercise. This amount of time will allow a complete recovery,.

STRENGTH GAINS

If you are training for explosive activities of short duration to improve your speed, agility and power, your ideal rest period range between sets is 3 to 5 minutes. That is simply because full recovery allows you to exert the maximum muscular power through each set. It has also been proved that longer resting periods combined with strength have an impact in your testosterone hormone levels which is linked to greater gains in strength.

MUSCULAR GAINS

If on the other end, if you are training for muscular size, then your optimal rest period range is between 30 to 60 seconds.  That will give an approximate work-rest ratio of 1:1, meaning that you spend the same amount of time resting as it took you to complete the previous set.

When you follow this rest interval technique,  your body gets better at buffering the accumulating lactate in the muscle. It will also improve your ability to exert almost maximal muscle contractions over a given time. 

Therefore a work-rate ration of 1:1 combined with high training volume and weight loads that allow you to perform somewhere between 8 to a max of 12 repetitions, will get you there.

 

RECOVERY AFTER EXERCISE

Your body needs adequate amount of time to heal and recover before it can function at its best capacity again. When you don’t allow your muscles to rest, they tend to take a rest their own, meaning you will eventually get injured. In sports medicine this phenomenon is referred to cumulative microtrauma.

There is no specific way to calculate which days should be assigned to training and which days to rest. It all comes down to the individual differences of ones fitness level, exercise intensity, frequency and load. These are some considerations which can bring some light, before you can workout the rest between your workouts.

 

How often can you workout each week?

2 times for maintenance

3 times for beginners

5 times for serious fitness enthusiasts

10 times for athletes

 

How hard should a workout be?

If training 2 or 3 times weekly, train with high intensity

If training 5 or more times weekly, split the program into different intensity variations to avoid under-training and over-training.

 

How long per each session?

For anaerobic objectives (strength), train less than an hour each workout.

For aerobic objectives (cardiovascular endurance), train for up to one and a half to two hours each session.

 

What type of exercises?

Beginners training 2 or 3 times weekly should choose a selection of exercises and methods to ensure that all major muscle groups are covered and nothing remains neglected.

Athletes can also focus on all major group muscles however, they only do that during their off-season. Pre and during season their training must be highly specific to the skills needed for that particular sport.

 

CONCLUSION

As a general rule, you should not intensively exercise the same muscle group two days in a row, and usually not more than three times a week. Doing so, your body will eventually become fatigued and reach an over-trained state. This can lead to injuries, other health issues and side effects.

 

After you train big muscle groups such as chest, back or legs you may need two days of rest if your training is intense and your loads are heavy.

When you are focusing on smaller muscle groups such as shoulders, biceps and triceps you will need one day to rest.

Either way, your body will feedback you on this issue.

When you experience a severe muscle soreness you must take a break from training those muscles for at least 2 days. Light aerobic activities such as walking or power walking, performed after 24 to 48 hours from its occurrence, can help the body to flush out any by-products of training accumulated in the muscle, therefore assisting faster recovery.

Hope you found this useful.

Stay Awesome!

Mari Curteanu