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Nutritional FAQ

Q. Why do I need to drink so much water?

A. Most people have heard that you should drink at least eight - 8 ounce glasses of water per day, but many still do not know why it is so important. Proper hydration is essential for every function your body performs. If you are even slightly dehydrated your body will function less efficiently. You can live for 30 days or more without food, but you would die in 3 days without water!

If you do not consistently drink enough water, your body will try to hang on to every drop it can in self-preservation. It will take water from systems in your body that need it to function efficiently, just to store it. Many people who do not drink enough water are actually carrying an extra 5-10 pounds of stored water, which may add an extra 1 - 1.5 inches to your waist! Their body is preparing for a drought that never has to come.

Your body cannot burn fat unless it has enough water. In fact, it cannot even digest food properly without enough water. Less efficient digestion can lead to increased fat storage, low energy levels, and less calorie burning through activity. The constant state of dehydration (lack of water) that many people are in leads to weak thirst signals that can be mistaken for hunger, leading you to crave food you do not need. Proper hydration has been shown to reduce joint discomfort by re-hydrating cartilage and other joint structures.

You can exercise all you want, eat the best foods in the world, but if you are even slightly dehydrated your body is going to fight you every step of the way.

Most times, 8 glasses of water per day is not nearly enough. If you drink caffeine, exercise regularly, or have a few pounds to lose, you probably need significantly more water to meet your body’s demands. If you want to lose fat and improve your overall health, the first step you should take is to make sure you are getting enough water.

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Q. Why do I need to eat so often?

A. You need to eat every three or four hours when you are awake.

Not eating often enough will cause your body to go into "starvation mode." Three or four hours after a meal, your body needs more fuel. If you do not eat, it will try to preserve itself by storing fuel (as fat) for future use and breaking down lean muscle mass to convert to fuel. This break down slows your metabolism (calorie burning) and stresses your kidneys and liver.

Proving to your body that there is a constant source of fuel available will convince it that fat stores are not necessary. Then and only then will your body convert stored fat to fuel. You need to eat every three or four hours! When you do this consistently, your blood glucose (sugar) levels will not dip and you will not feel the energy sag that many people get throughout the day. Your body needs blood glucose to burn fat, so by maintaining a higher glucose level all day long, you will convert more fat to fuel.

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Q. Why do I need to eat more if I am exercising?

A. It is extremely important to ensure that you fuel your body both before and after exercise.

Many people feel that it is best not to eat prior to exercising because their body will then burn more stored fat. That is simply not true. Think of your body as a wood burning stove. Fat is like the log in the fire. It burns for long periods of time and is a very good source of energy. How do you get that log burning though? What happens if you take a match and try to light the log on fire? It will not burn. To get the log burning you need kindling. Carbohydrates (broken down to glucose) are the kindling. If you have not eaten within an hour or two of exercising then you will not have the glucose in your system that you need to start "burning" the fat. Not only will you not lose the fat you want to, but without being able to efficiently use fat for fuel during your workout, you will not have the energy you need to exercise at intensities high enough to produce significant results.

Without the presence of glucose your body cannot convert fat to fuel. So what happens if you exercise without having any fuel in your body? Fat cannot be burned because there is very little glucose present, so your body converts protein to glucose. Where does it get the protein from? You got it, your lean mass! Sure, you still burn some fat, but at the expense of the lean mass that you are trying to build or conserve by exercising in the first place.

For these same reasons it is important to eat after exercise as well. You need to provide your body with the fuel to allow stored fat to be "burned".

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Training FAQ

Q. Why should I do Resistance Training?

A. Resistance training is one of the key components to a complete and balanced fitness routine. There are many benefits to establishing a consistent resistance training routine such as:

  • Reduced risks of osteoporosis (weakening of the bones)
  • Increases in core stability
  • Increases in muscular strength
  • Increases in muscular tone/definition
  • Decreased body fat
  • Increased ligament and tendon strength
  • Improved power, speed, and agility
  • Increased self-confidence
  • Reduced risks of developing arthritis
  • Development of positive body image
  • Increased metabolism (calorie burning)

There are many different ways to resistance train, everything from working out at your local fitness centre using machines or free weights, to working out at home using simply your body weight and resistance tubing.

During the Workout:

While you workout and overload the muscles there are several things happening:

1) Your body is using calories for fuel to complete the workout
2) Fatigued muscles sustain a small amount of fiber breakdown
3) Fuel stored in the muscle itself is being used and replenished

The combination of all of these factors leads to fatigue that causes you to feel weaker after a workout is completed. It is important to realize that the larger the muscles worked, the more dramatic the results you see will be. Do not spend a large amount of time working the inner or outer thighs or biceps and triceps when you could be working the legs, back, and chest muscles. These are the largest muscle groups in the body and working them will lead to the most dramatic results.

The same principle applies to training the abdominals (stomach muscles). Many people make this muscle group a primary focus of their workout thinking that it will help them to achieve a flatter, more defined stomach. The only way to get a flat stomach is to get as lean as possible, and the best way to do that is to eat properly and strengthen the largest muscles in the body, like your legs, back, and chest, the ones that burn the majority of calories. You definitely want to train the abdominals, but proportional to how much you train the rest of your body. That means 2 to 3 days per week for 5 to 10 minutes and that is all you need. Take the extra 30 - 40 minutes per week that you save on abdominal training and do an extra cardio workout or a few more exercises for your legs, back, and chest.

After the Workout:

After an intense workout that overloads the muscles of the body, recuperation (rest) time is needed. This is why it is important not to train the same muscle group(s) two days in a row. It is okay to workout two days in a row, just work different muscles each time. It is during this recuperation that your body will adapt to the stresses you placed it under during the workout:

1) More nerve fibers connecting the brain and muscles will be activated
2) Fatigued muscle tissue will be repaired and strengthened
3) Increased amounts of fuel will be stored within the muscle itself

Initially you should expect to have some mild to moderate soreness a day or two after your workout. This is the result of your body working to build, repair and strengthen the muscle tissue that was overloaded during your previous workout. It lets you know that you challenged your body enough to have an effect. Increasing the amount of nerve activity to a muscle will cause several things to happen. When a contraction happens, more of the muscle fibers will contract, leading to an increase in strength. More active nerves means the muscle will have more residual, or resting, tension. This causes the firmness known as muscle definition, or tone. Repairing broken down muscle tissue leads to newer stronger fibers being developed, and increases the amount of fuel stored within the muscle. This leads to an increase in the ability of the muscle to keep contracting for longer periods of time. All of these effects add up to one common element. More fuel is consumed all day long. In other words, more calories are burned, helping you along the way to your fat loss goals.

Workout Consistency:

One of the most important parts of your workout is just the fact that you show up to do it. As discussed in "Intensity" and "Progression", your body will adapt after every workout that you do. It is these adaptations that get you the results you are looking for. But guess what - it will only happen if you "prove" to your body that you are going to do your workout consistently. When you first start a routine there are all sorts of physiological changes that occur almost immediately. If you are looking for physical or "aesthetics" changes though, that takes time. Your body will have no problem gaining strength, but it will also tend to be very resistant to making those appearance changes that most people so desperately want. The longer you have been carrying around that extra 15 or more pounds (7 kg) of fat, the more your body will accept it as "normal" and therefore the more resistant it will be to get rid of that fat. Does this mean that if you have been carrying that extra fat around for ten years or so that you are doomed to having it forever? Absolutely not! But what it does mean is that you must be consistent with your routine or your body will think that it is okay to return to it is "normal" state. You have to "reset" your body's way of thinking - convince it that lean and solid should be the new norm. The great thing is that once you achieve that new norm it is actually quite easy to maintain it.

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Q. Why should I do Cardio Training?

A. Cardiovascular exercise is essential for achieving and maintaining weight loss and to maximize your overall fitness level. There are many benefits to cardio training:

  • Increases aerobic capacity
  • Strengthens the heart
  • Decreases resting heart rate promoting longevity of the heart muscle
  • Promotes a decrease in blood pressure
  • Increases the body's ability to get fuel to the muscles
  • Helps to increase muscular endurance
  • Promotes fat loss
  • Reduces risks of some cancers
  • Helps to reduce stress

During the Workout:

Fitness gains are achieved by consistently challenging your body to progressively perform more work during your workouts. 1) Progressive overload results in an increase in your body's function and efficiency. 2) To achieve results, workouts must be done at intensities higher than what the body is accustomed to. 3) You can vary the amount of overload by changing factors such as: the frequency of workouts during the week, the intensity of the workouts, the duration of the workouts, or changing the type of activity you are doing. 4) This progressive overload can be used by everyone from beginner to advanced clients.

Although workouts may feel quite challenging at first, there is a steep progression curve with cardio exercise. You will find that in a relatively short period of time, usually no more than a few weeks, you will be able to perform at higher intensities, for longer durations with relatively less effort.

After the Workout:

After a workout that challenges the body there are several things that will occur:

1) You will have an increased blood flow resulting in more fat metabolism and the production of more fat metabolizing enzymes.
2) The body will attempt to minimize the use of carbohydrates (glucose) for fuel and maximize the use of fat.
3) Your heart will become larger and stronger, giving it the ability to pump blood more efficiently. This leads to lower stress on the heart muscle itself.
4) The body will become more efficient at extracting oxygen from the air you breathe in and getting it to the working muscles that need it.
5) Your body will attempt to replace the blood sugar (glucose) that you have used during your workout resulting in an increased metabolism for several hours

Recovery from cardio workouts will generally happen much faster than recovery from resistance training workouts. You may not feel much soreness at all unless you were trying a new activity or one that you have not done for a long time. It is especially important to ensure that you consume carbohydrates within an hour after you complete your workout so that your body can replenish used fuels.

Workout Consistency:

Simply put, if you do not maintain a consistent cardiovascular workout, you will not get the results you desire. Without a consistent overload, your body will have no reason to adapt. While your body does adapt and progress quite quickly with consistent cardio workouts, it will also "de-train" rapidly without regular workouts.

If you have been consistent for several months and find that you need to take a week of for illness, or vacation that should not pose a problem at all. You may find your first workout or two once you start again a bit more challenging than usual but that is all. On the other hand, if you are missing workouts every week you may see much more of a loss of cardio fitness.

Remember to be as realistic as possible with your goals. If you have set a goal of exercise 6 days a week and your schedule just cannot accommodate it then reduce your goals slightly and simply ensure you are exercising intensely and consistently. This will generally lead to better results than always falling short of an unrealistic goal. More is not always better. Be realistic and stick to it consistently.

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