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Since Fit&Treat production kitchen in London was closed November 2016 I received hundreds of emails from our customers and followers asking me to share recipes we used to cook their loved healthy meals. So I decided It would be at least selfish to keep a secret. From this moment i’m going to publish bit by bit all Fit&Treat’s healthy recipes created in Fit&Treat’s kitchen and gathered from best industry experts for years of my bikini-fitness expurience.
Starting the series with healthy muffins.
Personally, I’m not a big fun of muffins but my Fit&Treat’s customers and followers, my family and friends simply love them.
Peanut Butter & Banana Muffins – happy school days flesh back.
These muffins taste exactly the same way as traditional school days snack but far lighter in terms of nutrition. I swaped all heavy and sugary ingredients on healthy substitutes and here we go! Try to make this fantastic snack to spoil your loved ones. Peanut butter-banana healthy muffins could be a great idea as a pre-workout snack or breakfast. Let me know if you liked it.
Protein: 4 grams
Carbs: 23 grams
Fat: 4 grams
1 cup white whole-wheat flour + 1 cup oat or whole grain flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 3/4 cup mashed bananas (about 4 large bananas)
2-3 Tbsp. of stevia or any other sweetener (i never use refined sugar in my recipes)
2-3 Tbsp. of honey or agave nectar (optional for those who have a bigger sweet tooth)
1 Tbsp. coconut melted oil
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup creamy peanut/almond butter
1/2 cup unsweetened almond/soya milk
Yield: 15 MUFFINS; prep time: 15 min; cook time: 20-25 min; total time: 37 min
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Line a muffin pan with paper liners and set aside.
3. Whisk together hard ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
4. Mash bananas until smooth. I use mixed but fork is also an option. Add stevia, honey (optional), coconut oil, egg, vanilla and beat everything together. Add in the peanut/almond butter. Add the flour mixture and milk. Mix until smooth.
4. Fill muffin liners half full. Bake about 20 min. until toothpick inserted into muffin centre comes out clean. Cool. I like to serve the muffins with peanut butter and berries. You can store them in room temperature for up to 3 days.
You can also freeze and use when needed just reheat in the microwave for about 30 seconds.
How many days a week do you actually work out? How many days should be devoted to rest? Do we really need a rest day? Some people believe that the more you exercise, the quicker and better the results. What’s the ideal ratio of rest to workout days in order to maximise the outcome of your exercise?
Workout days are simple to follow: you just follow your routine. Then, on your “rest days”, you feel like a lost duckling. It is always so tempting to fill them with “other physical activities” up to the top. Do you run on the treadmill? Or maybe do lighter weights? A bike ride on a unicycle up a mountain sounds nice. How about this: try actually letting your body rest.
“Rest” Is Often Misunderstood
There’s a reason rest days are intentionally woven into workout programs. In fact, rest is necessary for progress. When you exercise—particularly when you do really intense stuff like training for a marathon or lifting heavy weights—you’re damaging your muscle fibers. And it’s really the rest and recovery that let you repair muscles, and get fitter.
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) defines a rest day as a non-training day, where you’re not challenging your body at all. Some people interpret it as a license for a cheat day or just do nothing—the latter of which I actually encourage if you already work out too much. I used to work with people who took rest days to mean activity that was the exact opposite of resting. They might go for a “quick run” that ended up being eight miles; or do high-intensity interval training right after squats and deadlifts. That’s on top of training five to six days a week, sometimes twice a day. Those are pretty stressful rest days. Of course, these are extreme cases, but the urge to be extreme in fitness is more common than you think.
Refusing to Properly Rest Hurts You in the Long Run
You’ve heard the saying: “No pain, no gain,” or “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” If you work out intensely every day, you run your body ragged. Ideally, your fitness cycle should be: Work out, recover, profit, repeat. The recovery part is necessary for you to keep up this cycle over and over again and be able to see those results in the long run.
But remember, you’re (probably) not only exercising. You’ve got a life, a job, a family, Game of Thrones spoilers, and so many other stressors. These will all impact your ability to recover from your workouts.
And let’s not gloss over the fact that fitness is 50 percent physical and 50 percent mental. I know I spend a lot of time thinking about how to crush my workouts, what to do to get the most out of them, the “right amount” of reps and sets, what glorious thing I’m going to eat afterward, or whether the stripes on these socks match the color of my shorts. All of these stressors will have rippling effects on not only your workout performance but on other areas of your life, too. A little extra strenuous activity here and there isn’t a big deal.
But by the time you really do need that rest, it may be too late: you’ve burnt out. As a result, your motivation and energy levels will get hit hard; you’ll get lackluster or no results; you’ll make yourself more prone to injuries; or worse, you’ll start to see exercise as a chore.
Some fitness practitioners believe (and I share their opinion) that over-training causes massive water retention. At first glance it may resemble gaining fat. However, just a few days of complete rest could solve the problem, and is sufficient time to shed up to 2-3 kg of retained fluids in men and up to 5 kg in women.
Rest Doesn’t Have to Mean Doing Absolutely Nothing
At the same time, plenty of people have told me that deliberate rest would be too disruptive to their “hot” workout streak. That is, they’re stuck on this idea that if they take some time to rest, it’ll mess up their momentum and be much harder to get crackin’ to work out again.
If that’s you, you don’t have to stop entirely. Instead of being completely still, you can do what’s called “active recovery”, where you’re still moving, just letting your body recover. Many coaches advocate engaging in some sort of movement, but advise that it should be easy on the body.
Here are some ideas on what that might look like:
Do some mobility work: Mobility refers to how well your joints and body move. If you sit at a desk all day, you can probably work on your mobility to improve your posture and range of motion (like in your upper back and hips). Besides, better mobility can translate to better performance in the gym, too. Your rest days are the perfect opportunity to fit in light mobility and flexibility work. Yoga or foam rolling can be part of this regimen.
Practice technique: Whether you’re learning a new weightlifting move or trying to improve your running stride, use your rest day to practice. If you’re practicing a weightlifting move, I recommend using a broomstick in place of a barbell. A lot of repetitions even with just the barbell could tire you out.
Do cardio (only if you want): You’re probably told to just do cardio on the exercise machines on your rest days. You can, but don’t feel like you need to, especially if you’re already pretty active. Do it only because you want to and it’s actually a way for you to feel relaxed.
Take your activity outside: Hike, jog, bike, play catch, swim, prance, or do anything you enjoy. When you spend all your time working out indoors, it’s nice to be able to mix it up with doing something outside. Recreational sports are great, but sports like soccer, football, basketball, Ultimate frisbee, and so on can also be really intense. If you’re playing at a competitive level on a regular basis and feel beat, talk to a coach who specializes in your sport about designing a proper in-season training protocol.
When you feel really run-down and lack the energy and motivation to work out, it’s a dead giveaway that something needs to go. Obviously, you can’t just easily toss aside many of your life’s obligations, but you can always cut down on your activity. Instead, you can spend a day preparing your meals on your rest day. Heck, if you want to, you can sit on your ass to play video games or read a book at the park. You should take at least one day of rest like that.
Doing too much exercise is counterproductive. Being fit and healthy requires the interplay between rest and exercise, which in turn bring you results and all those other health benefits. So, take care of your body. That’s why you’re working out in the first place.
There is a wide range of protein powders currently. The protein content, quality and value of ingredients used can vary enormously, as can the digestibility and absorption qualities of the supplement. Different types of protein also serve different needs. The array of products found on shop shelves can be bewildering, so here is a quick review with some guidance on what you should be taking.
WPC is the most common source of protein you can find in shops. The protein content of such products usually varies between 70-80%. Some experts believe that WPC is a good option for non-professional fitness practitioners, and for those who are simply looking to increase their protein intake. As a qualified nutritionist and an expert in fitness and bodybuilding I would consider WPC as a suitable option even for advanced users. It can be mixed with carbohydrates in a post-workout shake to boost recovery, and 80% protein content is usually sufficient for most needs.
Recommendation: take it after weight training or mix it in your morning oats after fasted cardio for quick recovery and a metabolic boost. Ask your nutritional adviser to calculate the optimal intake for your needs.
2.) Whey Protein Isolates (WPI)
At between 90-100%, WPI protein content is higher than WPC. This means that the product itself is cleaner, and is of a higher quality. WPI has great absorption and digestibility due to its chemical form; it enters the bloodstream almost immediately following consumption, which is why it’s perfect for a post-workout shake. You can also use WPI if you are on a ketogenic diet (i.e. a no carbs diet), as it’s an absolutely pure source of protein that won’t impact the production of keton bodies (the primary source of energy when you’re on a zero carbs diet).
Recommendation: Do not follow a ketogenic diet on your own without qualified and experienced nutritionist supervision. It could cause hypoglycemia and other health problems.
3.) Hydrolysate Protein (HP)
Experts consider HP as the highest quality protein because of its chemical properties and absorption qualities. However, pure HP is not often found on shop shelves, but is usually found mixed in with other kinds of protein such as WPC and WPI. Manufacturers mix sources for two principal reasons:
To decrease the production price without any significant compromise in terms of quality;
To provide your body with proteins with various speeds of digestibility, in order for the body to retain its protein supply for a longer duration.
4.) Casein Protein
Casein is a slow-digesting protein. There is a completely different mode of thinking behind casein supplements than with other types of rapid-absorption protein powders. Depending on one’s metabolism, the body needs up to 5-7 hours to fully digest casein; this is why it is perfect as either a meal replacement or a bedtime snack.
Recommendation: Do not take casein after fitness activities as it will only enter the blood stream a few hours later, leaving your body starved of vital nutrients. You can take casein as a bedtime snack by mixing it with a small amount of water. Due to casein chemical properties such a mix will create a mousse-like texture, and could be taken as a desert.
5.) Soy/Pea/Rise/Hump Protein
All plant-based proteins can be taken to increase protein dietary content. They are suitable for vegans, and can potentially be a great way of fortifying their constitution with essential amino acids. However, keep in mind that all vegetable proteins have an incomplete profile of amino acids. According to Gastellu and his colleagues at the International Sport and Science Association, plant-based proteins should ideally be mixed with other sources such as WPC, WPI or HP (which are also suitable for vegans in the majority of cases) in order to provide the body with all the necessary building-blocks for its recovery and maintenance.
Interesting idea of how to lose weight relatively effortlessly without counting calories… Read more and share
Mind over matter: psychology over calorie-counting
Interesting idea of how to lose weight relatively effortlessly without counting calories (warning: you still have to watch what you eat) by letting your own body dictate how much you eat. Seems pretty sensible and worth a try.
byMichael Graziano (is a neuroscientist, novelist and composer. He is Professor of Neuroscience at Princeton University in New Jersey. His latest book is Consciousness and the Social Brain (2013). Edited by Ed Lake | 18 January, 2016 | Aeon
Hunger isn’t in your stomach or your blood-sugar levels. It’s in your mind – and that’s where we need to shape up…
…If weight were a matter of calories in and calories out, we’d all be the weight we choose. Everyone’s gotten the memo. We all know the ‘eat less’ principle.(Read Why diets don’t work and what you can do about it and Diets and exit strategies.) Losing weight should be as easy as choosing a shirt colour. And yet, somehow it isn’t, and the United States grows heavier. It’s time to consider the problem through an alternative lens.
Whatever else it is, hunger is a motivated state of mind. Psychologists have been studying such states for at least a century. We all feel hungry before dinner and full after a banquet, but those moments are the tip of the iceberg. Hunger is a process that’s always present, always running in the background, only occasionally rising into consciousness. It’s more like a mood. When it slowly rises or eases back down, even when it’s beneath consciousness, it alters our decisions. It warps our priorities and our emotional investment in long-term goals. It even changes our sensory perceptions – often quite profoundly.
You sit down to dinner and say:
That tiny, little hamburger? Why do they have to make them so small? I’ll have to eat three just to break even.
That’s the hunger mood making food look smaller. If you’re full, the exact same hamburger looks enormous. It isn’t just the food itself. Your own body image is warped.
When the hunger mood rises, you feel a little thinner, the diet feels like it’s working and you can afford a self-indulgence. When satiety kicks in, you feel like a whale.
Even memory can be warped. Suppose you keep a log of everything you eat. Is that log trustworthy? Not only have you drastically misjudged the size of your meals, but you’ve almost certainly forgotten items.
Depending on your hunger state, you might snarf up three pieces of bread and after the meal sincerely remember only one.
One recent study found that most of the calories people eat come through snacks between meals. But when you ask people, they deny it. They’re surprised to find out just how much they snack…
…Let’s say you decide to cut back on calories. You eat less for a day. The result? It’s like picking up a stick and poking a tiger. Your hunger mood rises and for the next five days you’re eating bigger meals and more snacks, perhaps only vaguely realising it…
… I’m not denying the physics here. If you take in fewer calories, you’ll lose weight. But if you explicitly try to reduce calories, you’re likely to do the exact opposite. Almost everyone who tries to diet goes through that battle of the bulge. Diets cause the psychological struggle that causes weight gain.
… Let’s say you try another standard piece of advice: exercise. If you burn calories at the gym you’ll definitely lose weight, right? Isn’t that just physics? Except that, after you work out, for the rest of the day you’re so spent that you might actually burn fewer calories on a gym day than on a regular one. Not only that, but after a workout you’ve assuaged your guilt. Your emotional investment in the cause relaxes. You treat yourself to a chocolate chip muffin. You might try to be good and decline the muffin, but the exercise revs up that subtle hunger mood lurking under the surface and then you don’t even know any more how much you’re overeating. Meals grow bigger while seeming to grow smaller. Extra snacks sneak in.
…But the most insidious attack on the hunger mechanism might be the chronic diet. The calorie-counting trap. The more you try to micromanage your automatic hunger control mechanism, the more you mess with its dynamics. Skip breakfast, cut calories at lunch, eat a small dinner…
be constantly mindful of the calorie count, and you poke the hunger tiger
All you do is put yourself in the vicious cycle of trying to exert willpower and failing. That’s when you enter the downward spiral…
Don’t put a plastic bag over your head. Likewise, don’t eat the super-high death-carb, low-fat diet. Don’t micromanage your brainstem by counting every calorie. You might be surprised at how well your health self-regulates.
Michael Graziano is a neuroscientist, novelist and composer. He is Professor of Neuroscience at Princeton University in New Jersey. His latest book is Consciousness and the Social Brain (2013).
I recently attended an all day event at the USC Campus, specifically at the USC Davis School of Gerontology to learn about the latest science on healthy aging from several of the world’s top aging experts. I feel inspired to share with you all what I learned. Many of you may have come across the information that I am about to share, but in case you have not, it’s never too late to learn something new!
1) One of the “hottest” question presented was “Does caloric restriction extend lifespan?” Answer: only sometimes. But if you compare a low fat diet versus a Mediterranean diet (which includes nuts and olive oil), the Mediterranean diet wins! It was shown to prevent cognitive decline and heart problems.
2) Sitting is the new smoking! Incredible to believe but the more hours you spend sitting on a daily basis decreases your health span. It is important to use your break time to get away from your workspace. And if you don’t get any breaks? Get up and take a walk to the bathroom every hour or two. Sitting can cause a multitude of heart problems, whereas smoking can cause lung problems/lung cancer. I guess you pick and choose your poison, or avoid them altogether.
3) Ovaries removed after normal menopause lessens a woman’s risk for dementia. Ovaries removed before normal menopause increases a woman’s risk for dementia.
4) A low protein, high carbohydrate diet is recommended for everyone below 65 years of age. Once you reach 65 and older, moderate (not low!) protein intake is recommended.
5) If you want to live longer and spend your later years without getting a disease or being disabled in any way, adhering to a plant based diet that includes high levels of legumes, vegetables and healthy fats (olive oil, other monounsaturated fats, nuts) is recommended. Waist goals for men to have should be less than 40 inches, and less than 35 inches for women.
6) Take care of your teeth! Get regular dental checkups! Edentulousness (having no teeth) is directly related to nutritional issues and health problems.
7) Watch the BBC video: The Men Who Made Us Fat.
8) Recommended weight loss programs are: weight watchers and TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly).
9) Create your own individualized diet/meal plan that takes into consideration your age, gender, weight, and activity levels.
After we reach 30 we generally get more clarity about ourselves, other people and the world around us. We start leading a fuller life, and have deeper, more stable and enduring feelings… For many people, life assumes a different hue, and experiences are more colourful, and in a sense, more vivid – even more ‘real’. This concentration of the sense of being alive can be equated with a deliciously thick hot-chocolate or, if you prefer, sipping a wine of the finest vintage. Everything enters a new, more advanced stage. Everything, that is, aside from our physical selves.
It has been proven that thirty is the age at which all bodily processes begin to change. Before that time we can easily gain muscle, and be extremely lean without too much effort. After thirty, we gradually become aware of having to buy larger clothes sizes, and our first wrinkles and grey hairs begin to appear. Unfortunately our beach holidays can also become far less fun as a result. As we approach middle age we increasingly become what we ‘eat, do, and read’.
Sarcopenia (skeletal muscle degradation with age) is an inevitable process. Our body become limited in its protein synthesis and utilization abilities as soon as we cross the thirty-year threshold. According to Runners World research, once people reach thirty they lose, on average, about 15% of muscle mass every 10 years. Our metabolism naturally slows as well. Another important point is that the human body never really loses anything without some sort of compensation. Lost muscle tissue is replaced by fat. It is exactly for this reason that we become chubbier with age.
Fat gain and metabolic slowdown are the natural consequences of age, which brings us to a point where we have to run ‘twice as fast as we can’. Don’t panic though. Awareness is the first step toward success. “A healthy and active 60 year old can have the muscle mass of a 30-year old, while a sedentary middle-aged person who eats a primarily processed food diet and struggles with insulin resistance or diabetes may have the muscle quality of a 70-year old”, sais Dr. Mercola, a physician and blog contributor to Fitness Peak.
Here are a few tips on how to avoid age-related muscle degradation, and keep yourself energised, fit and healthy after the age of thirty, and for the rest of your natural life.
Hormones determine harmony
“Other factors, such as age-related changes in circulating levels of muscle anabolic hormones and growth factors, must also be considered as contributing mechanisms underlying the sarcopenic phenotype” – Alex Hatchinson, nutritionist and physician, and contributor to Runners World.
We primarily age as a result of hormonal and biochemical changes. Some endocrinologists believe that production of the human growth hormone (the hormone responsible for cell formation, regeneration, and general recovery) already starts to decline after the age of 25. Muscle loss and excessive fat formation could be the first symptoms of GH (somatotropin) deficiency. Somatotropin is a prescribed drug and available in any pharmacy. However, its use as a supplement requires extensive research, and should only be taken under medical guidance and supervision. But there is some good news. When taken together, widely available amino acids such as l-Arginine, l-Lysine, and l-Ornithine, act as GH’s precursors and theoretically increase natural somatotropin production. The right supplements in the correct dosages, taken with other requisite healthy nutrients, vitamins and minerals, could postpone aging and have a tremendously positive effect.
Estrogen and testosterone are two other important youth hormones. As long as the body can produce them in adequate quantities to support the reproductive process, youth and beauty will be maintained. When estrogen and testosterone production is suppressed by certain factors such as incorrect contraceptive methods, stress, overload, lack of sleep or irregular sex, malnutrition, and so on, the body’s aging processes accelerates. I am not going to cover this highly complex topic within this particular article as it worth looking at separately, and in more depth, another time. Perhaps only one tip can be given: be attentive to your wellbeing and private life. Sufficient rest, inner peace, regular physical activities, sex, and balanced nutrition are the key factors to maintain hormonal health and youth. Consult your physician and nutritionist if you have any pressing questions on the subject.
Build the body in advance of ageing
Anabolism (muscular development and maintenance) gets more complicated after thirty, reinforcing aging and resulting in metabolic slowdown and fat gain. However, a recent study by the National Center of Biotechnology Information showed that “(even) mobility-limited subjects between 70 and 85 managed to add an average of 1.3% to their lean mass after six months of high-intensity resistance training and protein supplementation”.
So, don’t miss the opportunity to start building your muscles as early as possible while your hormones are working at their peak and supporting high anabolic muscle response. Remember, the earlier you start the longer you last. Include 3-4 sessions of resistance training such as weights lifting, Pilates, TRX, pole dance, or body pump classes into your fitness routine. Don’t forget about taking supporting supplements to quicken your recovery, and to help create precious muscle tissue to overcompensate for inevitable aging muscle loss.
Magic youth bullets
First and foremost, I would like to say couple of words about whey protein (WP). I’m asked every day by my clients and friends if it is worth taking whey supplements. The answer is an unequivocal YES. I add 1 scoop of high-quality, vanilla-flavoured, whey protein into my morning oats and take two more after my evening workout, mixed with simple carbs such as fruit or maltodextrin and BCAA into my traditional post-workout shake. According to research conducted by the National Center of Biotechnology Information, “whey protein supplementation may augment resistance levels and boost exercise-induced increases in muscle strength and mass”. So don’t miss your shake. It will help you to recover more quickly and to retain your muscle mass.
Now, let me shed some light on whey manufacturing processes, as this question is very sensitive to a majority of health-conscious people. According to research conducted by the Imperial College MBA Group Consulting project for GST Nutrition, certified whey protein available on the US and the UK markets is made of the same best and cleanest MPC-80 (milk protein concentrate) and MPI-80 (milk protein isolate) as various high quality baby formulas (I personally took part in this research at the end of my MBA program). Also, the majority of premium WP’s are suitable for people with lactose intolerance and vegetarians.
Another beneficial substance massively helping to postpone aging muscle degradation is BCAA complex. Branch Chain Amino Acids is a combination of three naturally occurring essential amino acids Isoleucine, Leucine and Valine, that make up over 35% of overall amino acids concentration in muscle tissues. Research shown that under conditions of stress, injuries, intense exercise and after the age of thirty, the human body requires up to a four times higher consumption of BCAA to maintain positive nitrogen balance. For more detail, read: How much protein should be eaten.
The International Sport and Science Association recommends an intake of BCAA of up to 6 grams a day depending on a range of factors including the physical condition, age, body weight and composition, and gender, of the subject. The type and level of their physical activity is also important, as are their general lifestyle choices. It is also recommended that BCAA is taken 30 minutes before and directly after meals, and throughout the day together with meals, to maximize its value for the body.
One more important group of substances helping to postpone aging muscle sarcopenia and related derogative processes, are antioxidants. Vitamin E, Omega3, Selenium and Choline are just at the top of a long ‘must take’ list of antioxidants. Read about antioxidants in another upcoming article How to keep your fleeting youth (magic pills and herbal rhapsody) and consult your nutritionist to calculate best dosages for your needs.
Glucosamine Chondroitine is one more necessary ingredient in the process. Read How to keep the fleeting youth (magic pills and herbal rhapsody) for more details.
Another suggestion in this topic of discussion is, surprisingly, don’t run! Stop crushing your joints and back bone, and torturing your veins. Moreover, long steady state cardio sessions exacerbate muscle degradation turning your body’s green light to sarcopenia even more. Everyday Health noted that “aside from the toll it (running) can take on your knees and joints, recent reports of things such as “runner’s face” and ‘dead butt syndrome’ could send some running devotees sprinting in the other direction”. Great alternatives to running could be light jogging, hiking, spinning, horse riding, skiing, water skiing or sprints (my personal second-favourite year-round activity, after the delights of seasonal skiing). If you are a gym lover, the rowing machine, curve, climbing ladder or lively aerobics/dance/body combat classes are all super solutions.
Do not forget to hydrate the body taking at least a glass of water 30 minutes before, during and after a session. Keep it sweaty, and have as much fun as you can.
The statement “You are what you eat” is even more valid after you hit thirty. If before that your body was able to metabolize almost all the rubbish you consumed, after your thirtieth birthday the picture really changes. Now five minutes of food indulgence can stay permanently lodged in your tummy or thighs. So take care of your body, and do yourself a favour by hiring a competent nutrition advisor.
Flexibility is another area to focus on. Allocate 10-15 minutes for stretching after any fitness activity. It will increase the blood flow to your muscles and will help to reduce joint and ligament load.
Stress, overload and constant tissues hypoxia (lack of fresh air) are few other important factors that quicken the aging process. A good eight hours of sleep, regular holidays, meditation, 15 –minutes of active rest every 2-3 hours during the day, and decent fresh air exposure (at least 1 hour daily) will help tremendously in the tough fight to retain your youth. Read Dream and Walk the youth back.
Courtesy of bodybuilding.com, 7 movements you need for full body strength. Really useful info for those who need a great general direction.
Is your one-sided program setting you up for frustration? Eradicate your weaknesses for a body that performs from any angle by mastering the fundamental human movement patterns!
So let’s dig deeper into the patterns. Different coaches categorize them different ways, but for me, it all comes down to what I call the “Magnificent Seven.” No matter your goals, these all need to be present and accounted for!
1. Overhead press
This includes bodyweight moves like handstands or handstand push-ups, but also the military press, Arnold press, and plenty more. Any exercise that requires the practitioner to press away from his or her body in a vertical plane falls under this heading.
SEATED DUMBBELL PRESS / PIKE PRESS-UP
The primary movers here are your shoulders, traps, and triceps, although there are certainly differences from exercise to exercise. For example, a wall pike press-up requires more core stability than a seated dumbbell press, but the overall movement patterns are the same, and the yields are extraordinary from both.
2. Overhead pull
Pull-ups, chin-ups, and lat pull-downs, including all their numerous grips, angles, and hand placements, are the big hitters in this category. They place the focus more on the lats and biceps, the antagonists to your pressing muscles.
Pulling in general is a fundamental component of full-body strength, which is sadly underrepresented in many styles of training. The calisthenics fanatic knows how important it is, though! You’ve simply got to train your back to be balanced, symmetrical, and truly strong, even if you can’t see it in the mirror.
Whichever modality you choose to train, be sure you’ve got a balance of pushes and pulls in your regimen.
3. Horizontal push
This is any exercise in which you push your arms out in front of your chest and away from your body. Push-ups and bench presses are clearly the gold standards here, but make no mistake, they come in far more variations beyond just wide-grip, narrow-grip, incline, and decline.
PUSH-UP / BENCH PRESS
Furthermore, the choice between barbells, dumbbells and bodyweight training each have their own intrinsic distinctions. Barbells, of course, allow for maximal absolute strength. Dumbbells provide a greater grip workout, whereas unilateral and bodyweight variations train full-body coordination and muscular control.
Yes, you’re hitting primarily the chest and triceps here, but if you’ve ever done the work to achieve your first single-arm push-up, you know that the shoulders, abs, lats, and glutes also come into play to provide stability and assistance. There is no true muscle isolation, as the body always has to work together in one cohesive unit.
4. Horisontal pull
I love pull-ups as much as anybody, but I know I need my rows, too. Why? Typically, these exercises recruit more medial back muscles than the overhead pulls do, such as the rhomboids and spine erectors. If these crucial postural muscles are weak, something else is having to compensate—and that could be setting you up for trouble down the road.
If you want an elite row variation to aim for, try the front-lever pull-up. If you can knock out one of those cleanly, your back will show it from every angle.
The squat is the most foundational lower-body exercise there is, as well one of the most important movement patterns in general. You were a master of it as a kid, even though the hip, knee, and ankle range of motion you had then may have since slipped away. But it’s not too late to get it back!
Squats are unique in that both the anterior (front) and posterior (back) of the legs are employed, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and tibialis. Very much a full-body movement pattern, squats also recruit your hip flexors, spine erectors, abdominals, and more.
There are benefits to be gained from both bilateral and single-leg squat training, so save time for both. The foundation always has been—and still is—the simple bodyweight squat, but other worthy additions include the split-squat, walking lunges, and pistol squats, as well as the classic barbell lifts like back squats and front squats. Even theleg press is a variant of the basic squatting motion! Do not ignore this vital movement.
Basically, any exercise where the body bends forward, emphasizing the abdominals, is part of this group. Bear in mind that although the primary movers here are the abs, many of these exercises—particularly those exercises which require you to hang from a bar—recruit additional muscles like your lats, arms, and shoulders.
This group is made up of extension-based movements that balance out the immense amount of forward flexion we tend to include in our workouts and our lives. Because of the emphasis many of us place on the “beach muscles” (abs and chest, for example), the muscles you can’t see in the mirror often go undertrained. The importance of working the backside of your body cannot be understated.
You won’t be functionally strong, sound, or physically unyielding if you’re lacking in the posterior chain. There are many spectacular hinge movements, including but not limited to all forms of back bridging, the deadlift and its many incarnations, and the kettlebell swing.
BARBELL DEADLIFT / BRIDGE
Make no mistake: Although the primary movers in these exercises are the glutes, legs, upper back, and lower back, you must recruit your entire body in order to execute the hinge movement effectively. And your entire body will thank you for it.
ARE YOU TRAINING THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN?
Different people progress in different ways. A group of men and women could follow the same solid full-body training plan that hits all seven of these patterns, and each person would probably see one movement—horizontal push, for example—get stronger faster than another.
That’s perfectly normal. They key is to not let your weaknesses become your blind spots. Get stronger at what you’re lacking, stay strong at what you’re crushing, and incorporate some flexibility work to enhance your overall training.
And yes, of course I get that these groupings are a generalization. There are many activities—calf raises, wrist curls, neck harnesses, you name it—that don’t fit cleanly on this list. However, those are the dessert. These are the main course. Train the Magnificent Seven with consistency and intensity, and you will be in the best shape of your life!
Have you ever noticed that after any diet, the pounds inevitably pile back on? Not only that, but people often actually gain more than they lose after finishing a diet. The idea of dieting is fundamentally flawed, with the process frequently being useless, painful and even dangerous to the person following it. In this article we are going to shed light on fad diets and provide you with some recommendations on how to avoid mistakes, and achieve long-term results.
Are still considering dieting?
What does an average diet consist of? They vary enormously in terms of the type of food stipulated or prohibited, timeframe, and degree of strictness. However, there are a few common features. Let’s examine them briefly.
All fad diets are low in calories and rely on a nutrients deficiency principle. That means a dieter consumes fewer calories than he or she burns. This usually leads to a certain weight loss, but a series of studies have shown that the drop in body weight usually occurs predominantly as a result of muscle – but not fat – loss. This is only the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the surface, the body experiences a significant metabolic slowdown.
All diets are short-term (up to a few weeks). First of all, that does not allow the body to change in the longer term. Secondly, it means that a dieter will soon return to his or her “normal” – often unhealthy or semi-healthy – eating habits. These dietary habits caused weight gains in the past, so it’s fairly certain that the same thing will happen again.
All diets impose strict restrictions on the type and quantity of food consumed. That might provoke not only temporary mood swings and fatigue but also long term hormonal problems. Another consequence can be malnutrition (i.e. a deficiency of some important micronutrients and vitamins). It could impair bodily functions and negatively impact the overall health of the dieter.
Now, let’s dig a little deeper.
Very often calorie restriction in the course of a dietary programme is too extreme, and has no scientific basis. The buckwheat diet, green diet, zero carbs diet, fruit diet and even the lemon-water diet are just few examples of type of diet which are – to put it bluntly – complete nonsense. Do people lose weight on such diets? Yes, they do. Do they gain it back? Yes, and it happens very quickly.
Decreasing calorie intake is another form of dieting. People keep their eating habits unchanged and just reduce the size of the portions or general quantity of their food intake, and exclude “criminal” food such as white bread or refined sugar. At first glance, this approach looks logical. Curbing excessive unhealthy food consumption will inevitably lead to weight loss. However, it is temporary. Having reached his or her target, a dieter reverts to “normal” eating habits, quickly gaining back everything that was lost, plus a little bit more, after every diet.
Another important point is that dieters almost never measure what they eat (we’re not speaking about bodybuilders, who, in opposite, obsessively weigh every ingredient). All food intakes is approximate and cannot be precisely replicated every day. Eating in public spaces makes tracking exact consumption even more complicated. It is impossible to be certain how purchased meals were cooked, and what additives such as oils, sugar, starches and so on were used. I’ve heard this stock phrase a million times: “I eat healthily but can’t lose fat”. When I start analyzing what people really eat I always see an abundance of hidden salt, sugar and fats in ready-to-eat or processed meals consumed. As a result, a dieter has fluctuating macronutrient intake (proteins, carbs, fats, fibre as well as salt and water) from day to day without any degree of consistency, consuming extra unnecessary nutrients that negatively impact the body in both the short and long term.
Sometimes people stop eating completely for a while (“detox” fasting). This is probably the most terrifying scenario in terms of negative metabolic adaptation and the degree of harm it inflicts on the body.
Juice diets, which are currently extremely popular, are another example of outrageous fad strategies that inevitably cause overcompensating fat gain after the diet is over.
To recap, people do lose weight during diets but mostly due to three key factors:
loss of body water due to loss of muscle glycogen (1 molecule of muscle glycogen retains 3 molecules of intramuscular water keeping the body hydrated),
loss of intestine bulk due to extremely low food consumption.
Now, let’s look in more detail at muscle loss. Why is this factor important? It has been scientifically proven that muscles burn more calories for maintenance than fat. In other words, two 130 pound individuals with the same activity levels but with different body composition (let’s say, the first has 10% of body fat and the second – 30%) have completely different daily calorie expenditure. Who is going to burn more? Obviously the first one, as he has more muscle tissue.
Another interesting fact is that the human body starts burning muscle tissue for energy when calorie intake is insufficient. Fat is used to store nutrients for the body in case of starvation, which is why the human body tends to keep it for as long as possible, destroying muscle tissue first. It’s a survival mechanism. Only in certain circumstances the body uses fat for energy (for example, when a certain heart rate is reached). Muscle loss during fad diets is inevitable even if a dieter continues exercising, and the less muscle tissue the dieter has, the fewer calories he/she burns. That’s why prolonged fad diets provoke muscle degradation and, as a result, significant metabolic slowdown.
Let’s say a couple of words about metabolic adaptation (slowdown/damage). This probably the simplest correlation to explain: The human body is both ingenious, and highly efficient. Survival is its main objective, so the fewer calories consumed, the fewer calories used. The body becomes very efficient and stores everything possible to deal with the possibility of starvation. In other words, the less you eat – the less you burn. And it works the other way around: the more generous the food supply, the less the need of the body to store fat for a raining day. However, don’t forget about food sources. Fat-laden, sodium-rich and sugar-heavy processed food never brings benefits. When boosting your metabolism, always opt for whole foods.
To sum up, when a dieter starves him/herself for a prolonged period, negative metabolic adaptation occurs. In combination with inevitable muscle loss it causes even more dramatic consequences – a dieter simply starts gaining more and more weight, while eating less and less.
Cortisol is a human stress hormone. Overwork, fad diets, long and exhausting cardio sessions, over-exercising, and lack of quality sleep, sunshine and fresh air are only a few examples from the long list of cortisol boosters. High cortisol levels cause major water retention (in case of some extreme female dieters, up to 25-30lbs). Moreover, high cortisol slows down the metabolism even further.
To diet or not to diet
Taking into account all of the above evidence, the question must be asked: is it actually worth dieting?
The answer should be obvious: No, if we’re talking about fad diets.
Another, related, question is how can we achieve targeted body correction?
It’s all about long term life-style changes: Short-term diets don’t provide long term results and may be harmful, whereas permanent changes to your eating habits bring long-term benefits.
How to start and what to do
Here are just a few simple tips that could make your healthy eating easier, and more effective.
Always rely on a scientific, fully customized approach! Generic diets and programs work poorly. Don’t copy someone else’s strategy. Most likely it was designed for an individual with a different somatotype, body fat percentage, activity level and other differentiating factors.
Would you perform dentistry on yourself? I didn’t think so. Always rely on professionals. Hire a qualified nutritionist to design the right strategy for your needs and guide you through the journey. It’s not going to be easy, as any life-style change requires complete focus, dedication, patience, and competent support.
Never starve yourself. Remember, fad diets are harmful.
Accept that finding healthy food in public places, or around your office, is pretty much impossible. Make it a habit to carry around a few little Tupperware boxes containing your freshly made meals. You will definitely be hungry at some point. Take care of yourself and don’t allow hunger to force you eating rubbish, or to starve.
Try to avoid processed food. This step alone will be hugely beneficial in the long-term.
Always put your health first.
Fast food and junk food cravings only exist in your head. The normal human body does not need junk food at all. Believe it or not, our brain can work perfectly on complex carbs. The human body is able to produce endorphins and serotonin without eating mountains of sweets. Our ancient ancestors never knew McDonalds or Nutella and lived happily without them. So the biggest monster lives in our own heads. Stop feeding it!
Take your time. The human body needs a far longer time to change than we tend to believe. Give yourself time. Be generous. Healthy eating will start working sooner or later. Just be consistent
Keep calm and eat your chicken (or broccoli/spinach/cod – whatever suits you!). Stress slows down the metabolism, making the body store more fat and retain water.
Sleep well and get enough fresh air every day. It’s a basic rule and you shouldn’t make excuses for yourself.
Just as you can’t be “almost pregnant”, you can’t “almost eat healthily”. You either do it or you don’t. The more you cheat the more you crave. It is better to eliminate junk food from your diet completely. Good luck!