Work out how many calories you are burning, just like a nutritionist!

Our energy output is a determined by two things.

  1. The calories burned from normal bodily function (Basal metabolic rate or BMR) such as breathing, organ function and digesting food.
  2. Additional natural movement such as moving limbs and walking throughout the course of the day and any additional exercise.

Working out your BMR

BMR is dependent on the individuals body weight and can be roughly calculated by multiplying your lean body mass in pounds by 14. (There are 2.2lbs per kilo).

You will need to measure your body fat levels with a trainer at your gym. Once you know your body fat, work out your lean mass. Your lean mass is made up of Muscle, bone, ligaments, tendons and water. We sometimes refer to this as your “active mass” as this is the mass that has calorie burning capabilities, unlike fat mass.

Eg. A person at 200lb with 20% body fat leaves 160lbs lean mass. 160lbs x 14 = 2240 calories. 14 always stays as a constant.This number is your BMR, or the amount of calories you burn per day in a sedentary state.

You can print this screen and record this number below.

My BMR is: ________ Calories per day

Then you need to add additional exercise to find out how many calories you approximately expend on a daily basis.

Count how many minutes of exercise you are doing on a daily basis and at what intensity. Eg. 60 minutes at 80% intensity. 60 x 0.8 = 48 active minutes at 100% intensity.

Regardless of what exercise, you can roughly gauge the intensity by how high your average heart rate is during the exercise is. Take 220, minus your age and that is your maximum, or 100% intensity. Eg. I am 32yo. My 100% intensity is 188 heart beats per minute. 80% of 188 would be 150.4 beats per minute.

To put it simply, when I do weights, I keep my rest periods to about one minute. My intensity is about 75%. When I do a spin cycle class, I average about 85%. If I am doing sprints or fast paced running, I can get up to about 90%.

Count your active minutes per day for a week.

Monday:       ________Mins at _____% intensity = _______ active mins

Tuesday:      ________Mins at _____% intensity = _______ active mins

Wednesday: ________Mins at_____% intensity = _______ active mins

Thursday:    ________ Mins at _____% intensity = _______ active mins

Friday:         ________Mins at _____% intensity = _______ active mins

Saturday:     ________Mins at _____% intensity = _______ active mins

Sunday:       ________Mins at _____% intensity = _______ active mins

TOTAL                                                                     _______ active mins

Take your total number of active minutes and divide the number by 60. =_______

Then add this number to 14.  14 + _____ = _____  Eg. 14 + 3.7 = 17.7

Now take that number and multiple it by your total lean mass in pounds. Eg. 180lbs lean mass X 17.7 = 2832 calories burned on average per day. Some days may be higher and some days less, but this will be very close and will give you a good idea of how many calories to consume each day.

(New number)_____ x _____lbs lean mass

My Daily Energy Output is _____ calories

For dieters that want to lose fat weight, subtract 500 to 1000 calories off your daily expenditure and consume that amount of calories.

For some smaller people, you may find that this level of calories is too low. Even for the smallest dieter, it is important to never consume any less than 1200 calories for a woman and no less than 1800 calories for a male for any sustained period of time.

I know there are a lot of calculations! If you have any questions, just let me know!

If you can master the above, you will now be able to work out how many calories you are burning, just like a nutritionist!

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The only way to lose weight!

Move More, Eat Less.

As obvious as it sounds, this really is the only way any diet will work. From the Atkins Diet to the South Beach Diet, Diets will only work if the dieter consumes less calories than they expend, with one exception.

While it is true that weight loss can only occur when we expend more calories than what we ingest, if we eat too little and make the gap between energy intake (food) and energy output (exercise) too large, things can go terribly wrong. For instance, put Lance Armstrong on a daily calorie intake of 2000, when on an average training day he would burn more than 13000 calories and before long, he would be sick as a dog and in a state of anorexia.

One of the most common complaints I would hear from my over 100kg clients, was that they would eat very little and exercise regularly but still gain weight. If the gap between energy out vs energy in is more than around 1000 calories a day, the result can often mean that the body goes into a state of starvation and holds on to as much fat weight as possible.  This is why very low calorie diets do not work and are never sustainable.

Why would your body want to let go of body fat stores when instinctively your brain is sending messages to the body that there is a severe lack of food and therefore must hold onto as much fat as possible to stay alive for as long as possible? When the mind perceives a lack of food, it automatically tells the body the best way to survive and fires into action. In instances of continued famine, (eating 1000 less calories than the energy we expend in a given day) the body reacts by storing fat. Fat, having the highest energy content at 9 calories per gram, is stored as adipose (fat) tissue on the body and supplies the body with over double the useable energy than that of carbohydrates and proteins. Proteins and carbohydrates offer only 4 calories per gram. Remember, we are generically wired for survival.

Food energy is measured in calories. Every food has a different calorific value. A gram of lettuce has about 0.16 calories, whereas a gram of avocado has around 8 times as much with 1.26 calories. The scientific measurement of a calorie is the energy needed to increase the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 °C. Slightly technical, but pretty much meaning that the higher the calorie value of a particular food, the longer it takes your body to burn it off, making it a more sustainable source of fuel. Or on the positive side, the more energy available, the more energy we have available to perform exercise or daily tasks.

When we consume less calories than we expend over a sustained period of time, we experience weight loss. The energy required to burn one kilo of fat, is 7000 calories. Therefore, if you consume 500 less calories than what you expend every day for seven days, you will have created a deficit of 3500 calories. So, in theory, you should have burned ½ kilo of fat in one week. This is the case, unless the dieter gets too carried away and the gap between input and output becomes more than 1000 calories.

Do not make the mistake of thinking less is more. Eat less and move more, but you need to figure out how many calories you are eating and how many calories you are burning so you can maintain a healthy balance.A healthy deficit is around 500 calories a day. For 100kg plus people that are exercising, up to 1000 is possible but no higher.

I will cover more on how to figure out your energy output and input in the following posts.

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What’s the sweet deal with chocolate?

I like chocolate. I mean, I really really like chocolate. And as much as I love to hear all the great press about chocolate containing anti oxidants and being good for you, I still know that consuming too much will make me fat.

But what is it about chocolate that is so bad for us?

Well, basically there are three ingredients that make chocolate taste so great. Sugar, fats and cocoa.

As you can see from the nutritional info from my favorite chocolate on the right, 51g out of 100g is sugar, 37g fat and just 6g protein.

No wonder it tastes so damn good! I like chocolate…

Instead of eating milk chocolate, consider trying dark chocolate. You still get that rich chocolate taste which can actually satisfy your craving by eating a smaller amount. With a higher cocoa content, dark chocolate does contain significantly higher levels of antioxidants than milk chocolate and a lot less sugar.    36 grams less sugar to be exact! Great for diabetics.

Yes dark chocolate does contain a little more fat than it’s milkier bother, but it is still by far, the healthier option.

Did I mention, I like chocolate?? 🙂

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Why the universe doesnt want you to have abs!

Another clue as to why we sometimes struggle to lose weight may lay with our ancestors.

If we look at the lifestyle and eating habits of our prehistoric ancestors, we may better understand the constant battle we now face in fighting fat.

For millions of years, human beings have been hunters and gatherers by nature. The Males role was predominantly to impregnate women, create children then provide shelter and food. There was no dialing for a pizza. To feed hungry mouths, the man of the house would have to hunt and kill dinner to feed his family.

When a man puts on weight, the first place fat tissue gathers is around the abdomen. Unfortunately, this is also the last place the fat comes off too.

When we think of prehistoric man, we often conjure up images of Spartan like men with six pack abs and bulging biceps. This however was probably not the case. The reason? Firstly, once a kill had been made, large portions of food would be eaten to avoid spoilage or loss from scavengers. This was often followed by prolonged famine. This process forces the body to hold on to as much body fat as possible in order to increase chances of survival. The other reason is pre programmed genetics.

Pre Programmed Genetics

Our bodies are designed to evolve to ensure the continuation of human existence and pro creation. As the role of a male Homo Sapien was to make sure he and his dependents were fed; and knowing that food often came in the form of dangerous wild animals, the male anatomy developed some safety features. Fat gathers around the stomach region to protect vital organs and increase the chances of survival if attacked. Thankfully these days we do not need to hunt for our dinner!

In the case of Women, who’s main purpose was to bear and raise children, fat tissue would naturally (and still does) tend to gather around the hips to protect the child bearing organs. Again, for woman, this is the first place excess calories will be stored and the last place it will come off.

Fat tissue is also one of the best forms of insulation, another reason why fat gathers around our vital organs. You will find that races of people that live in warmer climates find it far easier to keep fat off, as the body does not require it for insulation. People that live in colder climates struggle more to shift the weight as the body instinctively needs it to stay insulated.

Although we now live in a much safer and controlled environment, unfortunately for us, these safety features are already pre programmed into our genetics. All you need to do is look around and see the areas men and woman generally will store their body fat.

So as you can see, we are not actually designed to have six pack abs. Having abs is actually highly un natural, hence the difficulties men and woman have with shifting fat from those protective regions.

The healthy range of body fat for men to maintain is between 12 – 18% and women 18 – 26%. For the abdomen muscles to be noticed, the outer layers of fat need to be reduced to around 6-8%. Going against nature, you need to understand the body to know how to trick it into letting go of fat stores.

Despite the fact that we are constantly faced with battling our pre programmed genetics, if we make our health and fitness a priority, we can win the fight against fat!

My 3rd Body Building Comp in 2006

Fortunately for us, these days fresh vegetables, butchered meats and dairy is so readily available and we can pretty much consume quality foods whenever we wish.

When good food is so much more convenient than any other time in history, there is really no excuse to opt for bad convenience foods. Make your health a priority!

I know how hard it is to get abs and I can tell you, the process to getting them is not easy. Exercising two hours a day and eating a super strict diet is not what many people consider “Natural behavior”! The good news is, once you have them, they are much easier to maintain.

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Is your vacation “Worth the Weight”?

Is Holiday Weight Gain (HWG) an unavoidable phenomenon?

Maybe returning home with extra baggage around your middle, is just one of those things we need to experience in order to enjoy a good holiday. I actually know people that use the increased number of notches on their belt as an indication of how much they enjoyed their holiday!

We all know that once we step away from our homes, our routine and our refrigerators, our ability to eat right and get the same level of exercise can be tricky. Most of us are resigned to thinking that it is just impossible to eat well, exercise and still enjoy our holiday and as a result, we often just give up and expect to return home several kilos heavier. But this does not have to be the case.

Here are my top ten tips for you to enjoy your holiday, whilst minimizing the impact to your waistline.

  1. Eat often. With so much to see and do, we sometimes forget to eat. Leaving large gaps between meals will force your metabolism to slow down and make your body store fat. Try and eat five to six times a day, or at least every three to four hours.
  2. Move more. Choose activities that require you to use your legs and expend the calories you eat. Burn some rubber on your flip flops and get out and about to see what your destination has to offer! Generally when we are on holiday, we tend to move a lot more than we would during a normal day at work. With these extra calories burned, sneaking a beer or two after a hard days sightseeing, can be possible without gaining weight.
  3. Stay away from processed foods. If you look at the label and even when it is written in English, you still don’t understand what it is, yet alone be able to pronounce it, try to avoid it. Stick to meals consisting of whole foods. After all, the fresh aromatic flavors of freshly cooked foods will be what you remember about your holiday. Not the snack from a vending machine.
  4. Try not to eat carbohydrate rich foods alone. Adding a little protein and fat will slow down the absorption of the meal and provide a longer release of energy. Carbohydrates can cause spikes of blood sugar which makes the body release insulin. Insulin is a hormone responsible for storing body fat.
  5. Watch the soda and juices. Sightseeing can be thirsty work! Make sure you always have plenty of filtered water with you to stay hydrated. Avoid soda or fruit juices that will add another 100 calories each glass!
  6. Cut the carbs at dinner. Avoid eating rice, noodles, breads, potato and any other carbohydrate rich foods at dinner time. Your body can only burn fat when 80% of your carbohydrate stores are burned. Try choosing meals with lots of fresh veggies (except root veges) and easily digested proteins such as chicken, fish or seafood.
  7. When in Asian countries, avoid meals containing MSG. Try finding out what the locals call MSG and request none to be added when ordering your meal. In the Philippines MSG is referred to as Vetsin. Monosodium Glutamate is a commonly used flavor enhancer that can cause nausea and headaches. Many people can be sensitive to MSG and this is not something you want to discover while on holiday!
  8. Eat up big at breakfast! After a long sleep, it’s important to refuel the body. A big feed at breakfast will give you the energy to get your day started.
  9. Buy a “Fit Band”.A Fit Band can fit in the side pocket of your suitcase and there

    Fit Bands. Approx. $20ea

    are literally hundreds of exercises you can do with them. Learn a few basic exercises and start or end the day with 15 minutes of exercise. In my next post I will go through a few basic exercises.

  10. Get some sleep. Without at least six hours of quality sleep a night, your body will release cortisol. Cortisol in normal levels helps support many bodily functions. But in high levels it can impair digestion, metabolism and mental function. This can leave us feeling stressed and weakens the immune system making us more susceptible to picking up any bugs we encounter.

So go and enjoy your vacation. Experience the amazing flavors and aromas unique to each country you visit and see the sights you traveled to see.

With just a little preparation and thought there is no reason why you can’t enjoy your holiday and still return home without the extra baggage in your trunk!

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Breakfast of Champions!

A tasty and healthy breakfast that takes less than five minutes to prepare.

  • Five egg whites
  • One yolk
  • Red Onion finely chopped
  • One small Tomato finely chopped (Drain fluid)
  • Chives
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Use a small amount of spray oil in a 25cm frying pan

Whisk the egg whites and one yolk until fully combined. Add remaining ingredients and pour into the pre heated frying pan. Cook until the egg has set and flip. Continue cooking for 15 seconds and then remove from the pan. Too easy!

Meal contains:

  • 33g Carbohydrate
  • 20 – 25g Protein (Depending on egg size)
  • 6g Fat
  • Total calories 266

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Get off the Juice! Which has more sugar? Soda or Juice?

Many people are shocked to find out that fruit juice actually contains the SAME amount of sugar as soda.

Just like any other substance we ingest, fruit juices can make you fat.

Last night when I visited the super market, I took these pictures to show the similarities between the two beverages.

When you look at the nutritional info on a popular brand fruit juice, you will see that there is 10.1g of sugar per 100mls. That is about two tsp of sugar. An average glass holds 250mls, so potentially you are consuming 25g of sugar or 5tsp in a 10 second gulp! As the fruit has been juiced, a lot of the fiber has been lost, leaving mainly sugar and water.

On the right you will see the nutritional info from a popular soda manufacturer. The total sugar per 100mls is 10.6g. Only 0.5g more than the juice!

Fruit juices and soda, when consumed alone, catapult their sugars into our blood stream within minutes after consumption. As a result, this makes our blood sugar levels spike, triggering a large insulin release to bring our sugar levels back into line. Insulin is a hormone which is responsible for storing body fat and needs to be avoided. Admittedly, soda does have slightly worse effects on blood sugar levels due to its sugars being in a more simple form. (I will post more soon about the effects of unstable blood sugar levels and insulin)

Both beverages however both have approximately the same calorie content.

So the other reason why juices can make us gain weight is because calorie conscious people often make the mistake of only taking into consideration calories consumed from food. We have always been told that soda is bad (which it is) and fruit juice is healthy, so who would have thought that downing a few glasses of juice a day could actually make you fat!?  Four glasses of juice a day is approximately 400 calories! This can easily throw your daily calorie goals way off if not factored into your eating plan.

Now, just because fruit juices are not great for you, that doesn’t mean that fruit is not. An intact piece of fruit contains fiber which when ingested, slows down the release of blood sugar and limits the chances of the body releasing insulin. For more info on the effects different fruits have on your sugar levels, I suggest you get hold of a book called “The Glycemic Index”.

Instead of consuming fruit juices, try squeezing half a citrus fruit in a glass of sparkling water and dropping some Stevia in to sweeten things up. Stevia is a completely natural sweetener made from the leaves of the Stevia plant.

Give it a go and lay off the juice!

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Does age make you fat?

Many people are under the impression that as you get older, you have no choice but to gain weight. Rubbish! Yes it may be true that each year after the age of forty, your body will produce approximately 1% less growth hormone for every year of age, but if you move 1% more and eat a balanced diet, muscle mass can be increased right up to the age of 75!

Take a minute to gaze into the future and ponder this. Do you see yourself at the age of 80 sitting in a rocking chair on your front porch waiting out your days? Or do you see yourself as a young and active 80 year old, getting involved in outdoor activities and healthy enough to be able to enjoy your time with family and friends?

The way you see yourself as an older version of you, will give you a pretty accurate indication of what YOU will allow yourself to become if you continue the same lifestyle.

The real reason we often gain weight as we get older, is due to the increased pace of life we experience. With less available time, we become more drawn towards the convenience of eating processed foods and tend to move less.

I have had clients that have been in their 60’s with ripped abs and stronger than most 20 year olds, so age does not have to be a reason for weight gain.

That said, it’s not hard to see why so many people have made the assumption that as you get older, weight gain is inevitable. It is probable, but at the same time, preventable.

Another clue as to why some of us struggle to effectively manage our health and weight as we get older, may come to light if we take a moment to remember our childhood.

For most of us, in our pre teen years, we were bursting at the seams with energy and cramming every waking minute with as much life as possible.

Rising at sparrows fart and last to bed at night, we would often challenge our parents’ wishes to get a decent nights sleep. Now as an adult with the weight of the world on our shoulders, we remain in our beds for as long as humanly possible, thinking of all the reasons to stay in bed as opposed to getting up to greet the new day. Our new best friend has now become the snooze button and our worst enemy, the alarm clock it’s attached to!

With not a care in the world and so many things to do, our lives used to revolve around creation, wishes and dreams of what may be possible. This often becomes quite the opposite when we get older. Succumbing to the stresses involved with working or raising children, eating food for comfort not necessity, paying bills and just trying to survive.

For those of you like me that went to school over 20 years ago, you would have

1. Eaten far less processed foods

2. Eaten at set times as per your scheduled breaks.

We ate what we were given in the breaks we were given and didn’t have the option to raid the fridge or the closest vending machine to satisfy random food cravings. With our choices reduced, discipline was far easier to keep in check.

With no drivers license and no car, we were forced to use our feet as our mode of transport, burning more calories and getting far more fresh air than your average adult.

Socializing when we were kids was playing with a frisbee on the beach. These days, socializing is commonly done in a restaurant or bar with a few beers and calorie dense foods.

So the first step to rewinding the body, is to act like a child. Move more, eat less processed foods, be disciplined as to when you eat, enjoy life and your energy levels will go up and you will feel alive again!

Preparation is the key!

The day in the life of a health conscious person could be likened to walking through a mine field of temptations, of the edible kind.

If you do not follow a structured eating plan and have not prepared your meals in advance, the chances are that:

1. You will be forced to resort to buying your food from your local food hall or vending machine.

2. What is actually available, even if it looks healthy, most probably is not.

There are very few places these days that make tasty yet healthy meals available. Many sub sandwich restaurants claim to provide healthy meals and snacks but when you take a closer look at how your body makes use the meal for fuel, it is clearly not a great option. Highly processed meats (which usually consist of ingredients such as flour, water and nitrates and only consist of about 70% actual meat) wrapped in a highly processed bread casing with a few token veges thrown in, does not provide the body with much nutritional value. (I will post more about processed foods in future blogs)

So the key is, be prepared and don’t let yourself get hungry. Make sure you have taken the time to prepare healthy meals in advance so you don’t need to reach out for that vending machine. By the time you feel hungry, your body has already decided to take action and that action is to shut down and store body fat. This is an automatic survival mechanism that is triggered after approximately three to four hours after your last meal.

Basically, the mind sends a message to the body, instructing it to hold onto as much fat as it can, in case the body does not get fed again.

With prolonged periods between meals, our metabolism starts to slow down and at this stage could be likened to a very dull fire.

Often after a hard day at work, we arrive home with fast food in hand, or if we still have the energy, cook up a big feed and sit down to devour the biggest meal of the day. By this time our blood sugar levels have dropped, leaving us feeling ravenously hungry and often resulting in us pigging out and eating far more than what is actually required to satisfy our hunger.

This big meal could be likened to throwing a huge log of food on an already dull fire.

For a moment, our body lets out a sigh of relief that it finally has food… a lot of food! It then responds by holding onto as much of the meal and storing it as you know what… fat. After subjecting your body to prolonged periods of mild famine throughout the day, when it finally receives a good helping of food, the body does its best to hold on to it in case it experiences more famine the following day.

Ever felt sleepy after your evening meal and just wanted to fall asleep in front of the TV? This is your brain instructing your body to go to sleep so that it can slow the metabolism further to store even more fat. We often then turn into bed and as we are no longer active, the majority of the meal gets stored as opposed to being used as fuel and burned off.

Fat contains 9 calories per gram, (more than twice the calories of protein or carbohydrate) and therefore in cases of extended famine, our body’s can survive far longer on stored fat.

So tip one: Be prepared and make sure that you always have healthy foods available. A home cooked meal that you have prepared yourself and know what’s in it, is far better than the game of Russian roulette you play when eating out.

Tip two: Eat every 3 to 3.5 hours so that your body gets used to knowing that there is always food available and therefore does not need to store it.

Keep the fire burning!