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Benefits of having Lean Muscle Mass

Muscle and fat differ in density and I would rather have 1kg of lean, dense muscle tissue inside my body than 1kg of gelatinous, bulky fat (as I’m sure you would too!)

There are many benefits of having MORE lean muscle mass.

These include:

  • Reducing your risk of injury
  • Decreased body fat
  • Improve bone density
  • Improving your blood glucose control and insulin sensitivity
  • Increase strength
  • Increase performance output
  • Increase power and endurance
  • Increase mobility and balance
  • Increase metabolic efficiency
  • Improves ENERGY and the way you feel
  • Create a leaner and tighter physique

So how do you build lean muscle mass?

The key = consistency.

  1. Increase your resistance training to 2-4 times a week (follow a plan)
  2. Ensure you are meeting your daily protein intake
  3. Eat an abundance of vitamins and minerals from nutrient-dense foods
  4. Minimise long, intense cardio

If you want to learn more, email me for a chat! 🙂

How to stay on track over Easter

My clients and I train hard all year round for our health and fitness goals. I know how hard it is to stay on track and grind every day. But we do it because we have a set goal in mind, and a passion for training. So when it comes to the holidays, how can we enjoy ourselves and not ruin all the hard work we have been putting in? Can you fully relax over the holiday? Will all your hard work come undone?

Heres what to do:

1. BE ORGANISED

Are you going away over the break? Have you got a few social plans lined up? Will you be eating out a lot? These are the questions you need to ask BEFORE you go into the weekend. Most of my clients track their macro so my solution is to plan ahead.

If you know you are having breakfast and lunch at home and going our for dinner, pre-plan your food ahead of time. Make sure your breakfast and lunch have high sources of quality protein, fats and carbs. If you know the restaurant you are going to, look at the menu in advance to roughly enter in your dinner. That way you can make a few adjustments to the remainder of your day if you need to.

If you are traveling or staying out of town, again, be as organised as possible. Bring protein powders, and snacks that are suitable to your macro goals. You can buy pre-made salads from the supermarkets, and add extra protein like canned tuna or chicken to create a meal.

Fail to plan, plan to fail.

2. BE REALISTIC

If you have a sweet tooth like me, you know you’re going to want an Easter egg (or two). You are allowed! The beauty of flexible dieting is that you can enjoy ALL foods without feeling guilty. Just be sure to enter your desired chocolate into your food diary at the start of the day, so as to not go over by the end.

3. HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE

This is my biggest tip and this applies all year round. The only person who puts food in your mouth, IS YOU. It is human nature to shift the blame to others but you are responsible for your own actions. Do not blame others for your inability to say NO. Remember, you have a plan, and a goal that you need to achieve! No amount of ‘peer pressure’ or negative talk should steer you from that path. Prioritise what is more important to YOU!

4. KEEP MOVING

You cannot out train a bad diet. So if you decide to go all out and over indulge, smashing a 3 hour workout the following day isn’t going to make up for it. Instead, stay moving the entire weekend, to allow for the small increase in calories you may have. If you train in a gym, know that there will be Holiday Hours (most will be closed Good Friday and Easter Sunday).

You are allowed to move your body and feel good! It isn’t a bad thing to want to train over the weekend, in fact is is GOOD for you to move your body every day, no matter what day it is. On your training days, make sure you are still giving your 100% in the gym. On your rest/recovery days, still try to ‘move’ your body for 30-45mins on top of your daily activities. This could mean a light walk/jog/swim or even taking the kids/your partner down to the park to have a run around. Be creative but most importantly, have fun!

At the end of the day, remember to not sweat the small stuff. One bad meal will not make you gain weight, just as one salad won’t make you lose weight.

If you are organised and prepared, your are unstoppable 🙂

Know when to let your hair down, and know when to be in control.

Have a wonderful Easter weekend everyone!

Love Ash

xx

Why is eating protein important?

Protein is an integral part of a healthy and balanced diet. Our cells require protein for most functional components. Your hair and nails are predominantly made from protein. Chemical reactions, hormones and enzymes in the body require protein at some stage, and help in repairing and building tissues at a cellular level. Protein is the most important building block for our muscles, skin, bones, cartilage and even our blood. As you can see, protein is important for more than just muscle growth. We also use it for nutrient transport, formation of antibodies, and maintaining bodily fluid balance and pH values. The amino acids that make up proteins cannot be made in the body and must be obtain through our diet.

The reason we need to continually “re-stock” our protein levels, is that our body cannot ‘store’ protein like it does with fats and carbohydrates. Therefore we need to have certain levels to meet the body’s requirements. This doesn’t mean we need to eat protein all day long, but it is important to make sure you are getting enough for your individual requirements.

Factors that can affect protein requirements:

  • Body composition goals
  • Exercise levels
  • Age
  • Disease/Illness

Whether you want to lose body fat or gain muscle, eating protein combined with resistance training will influence your outcome. You will need a higher level of protein to maintain or add muscle mass (depending on your goal). During fat loss, protein is also valued for its satiating qualities.

Athletes and those who exercise at a medium to high level of intensity require a higher intake of protein compared to those that are sedentary. Your body uses fats and carbohydrates for fuel first, but can draw from protein once these initial fuel sources have been depleted. Keeping protein intake high avoids muscle breakdown and wastage.

Older adults require higher protein intake than their youth due to actively losing muscle and bone at a faster rate. Similar to athletes, older adults should keep their intake high to avoid muscle wastage.

Individuals suffering from an injury, chronic illness or disease, should look for a higher intake to preserve muscle mass due to a more sedentary lifestyle and lower calorie intake.

Rules for increasing your protein intake:

  1. Spread protein out over the course of the day to enable the body to have a ready supply source.
  2. Eat the HIGHEST quality proteins. Animal proteins contain the highest amount of essential amino acids (which means they can only come from our foods), as opposed to plant-based proteins. Plant-based proteins lack sufficient quantities of the essential protein leucine, the most powerful amino acid for protein synthesis.
  3. Choose whole foods over processed proteins. Whole foods (chicken, salmon, beef, legumes) are packed with vitamins and minerals, as well as quality amino acids. Packaged protein (protein bars, breads, cereals etc) are often filled with high carbohydrates, sugars and other nasty ingredients.
  4. Always eat fibrous vegetables with your protein. Animal protein can trigger some gastrointestinal inflammation, therefore it is best to consume with fibrous vegetables to improve the digestion and counter the inflammation (cucumbers, celery, capsicum, leafy greens, etc)
  5. Add a weights routine to your lifestyle. Resistance training is another trigger for protein synthesis. Studies have been shown that combining a strength training program with adequate levels of protein intake, show a large increase of strength and muscle mass.

Depending on your goal and lifestyle factors, nutritionists recommend between 1.2-2.2grams per kilo of body weight, per day. If you are more sedentary, you are looking at the lower range, where as more active individuals would look to the higher end.

Example of finding your protein requirement:

If my body weight is 70kg, and I train 4-5 times a week, my aim is to eat a minimum of 1.6g/kg a day.

70kg x 1.6g = 112g of protein a day.

The average person has 3-4 meals a day. 112g of protein spaced out over 4 meals would equal to 28g of protein per meal.

Roughly, a 100g chicken breast equals about 25-30g of protein.

It is important to remember that no two individuals are the same. Your protein requirement will differ from the person next to you. You can use the above as a guide, but for a more precise indication, it is best to consult with your dietician or nutritionist.

My 7 tips to stay on track over Christmas

You’ve worked so hard all year.

You’ve made plenty of sacrifices to get towards your goal, and now the festive season is upon us.

I always get asked, how do I enjoy myself, but not lose everything I’ve achieved?

The answer?

Organisation!

You know what events you have coming up, your diary is booked up, so be prepared!

Here are my top 7 tips to not going too overboard… 😛

1. Loosely, track your food

You can do this by either setting a calorie goal per day and roughly entering what you consume (both food and drink), or use your food as a guide. Depending on your fitness goal, each meal should include a fist size of clean protein, a fist size of carbohydrates, half a fist of good fat, and as many green vegetables/salads as you desire (be careful of dressings/sauces). When dining out, you can’t always control how others prepare food so don’t get too caught up with over analysing. Just guess-timate.

If you are currently following a tighter nutrition plan, allow yourself a diet break. Make sure you are disciplined for the majority of the time, and allow room at the end of your day for lunches/dinners/deserts.

2. Know what events are coming up, and plan ahead!

This is similar to the tip above but the key to this is to BE ORGANISED. If you have a strong goal, there really is no excuse.

Plan ahead by preparing your meals.

Know when you can/can’t be flexible

Drink plenty of water!!

3. Still train and exercise

The festive season is a time to celebrate and enjoy moments with your family and friends. But you are still allowed to look after yourself! Your training can be slightly more relaxed than normal (maybe you only train 3 times a week instead of 5), but it is still important to train and move your body. Because you will likely to be consuming more calories than normal, you want to aim to exercise for a minimum of 40mins each day (if you are not in a current training program). Family walks on the beach are a great way to get everyone involved.

4. Avoid snacking

The temptation to snack on the chocolate covered almonds, the cheese and crackers, the fruit, can all lead to extra unnecessary calories. You know your meals will be big, so avoid snacking during the day and save your appetite for the main meals.

5. Drink for enjoyment, not to get drunk

Even though you are around friends and family, do you really want to be the person that has to get put to bed? Be disciplined with your drinking and space out your drinks with water or fruit flavoured soda water. Consuming too much alcohol normally goes hand in hand with poor food choices. At meals, aim for only 1-2 alcoholic beverages. This will be enough to enjoy your moments.

6. Learn to say NO.

There is going to be an abundance of food. We all know it and we all look forward to it. But just because it’s there, doesn’t mean you HAVE to eat it. If its something that you absolutely can’t say no to (like grandma’s favourite dessert) apply portion control. Allow yourself the treat, but don’t go overboard.

7. If you’re full, stop eating.

This is probably one of the bigger tips to apply and ties in with tips no.1 and 2. As soon as you are full, put your plate/fork down. Once you have filled your plate, avoid going back for seconds.

My morning routine

I need as much energy and nutrients to kick start my day, so here is my morning nutrition routine.

1. True Protein Greens

I drink this FIRST thing, every morning! Because of the concentrated nutrient profile, I find that the greens assist me by reducing any inflammation and promoting healthy digestion. With its high quantities of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, carotenes, chlorophyll and antioxidants, this is the perfect kickstart to my day.

Mix 10g of powder with 250ml of water. Stir thoroughly and drink quickly.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar and Lemon Water

ACV has been said to lower blood sugar levels and assist with insulin sensitivity around meal times. As my first meal is quite high in carbohydrates, I take the ACV now so that it doesn’t mix with my food later on.

Squeeze 1-2 tbsp of lemon juice in a glass of warm water. Then add 1-2 tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar.

3. True Protein Coffee

Getting up at 4:30am every morning can be hard, so I need to wake up my body as quick as I possibly can. To increase my mental focus and alertness, I sip my True Protein Coffee as I am getting ready for work. I rarely drink milk in my coffee so this organic black coffee is the perfect pick-me-up! As a rule, I won’t have more than two servings of caffeine a day.

Add 1 small scoop to boiling water and stir through. Sip to drink.

4. Breakfast

Depending on how big my day is, or what time my training will be that day, is how I choose what I will have for breakfast. If I am weight training early in the day, I will have a high carb breakfast to fuel my workout. If I am training with high intensity, I will opt for a smaller breakfast with high protein and fats.

I always plan the night before and it will be a choice of:

  • Protein + Oats
  • Egg White Omelette
  • Protein + Peanut Butter Shake

When is the best time to train?

When it really comes down to it, the best time to train, is the most convenient time for YOU.

Do you like training first thing in the morning? At lunch? After work?

To maintain a steady fitness routine, you should aim to train at a time you can consistently go to (This might change per day). A few things to consider when choosing the best time for you:

What type of training are you doing?

High intensity and cardio sessions can be a bit too much too handle after a heavy meal, therefore most people choose to train high intensity first thing in the morning. This way, they can choose to consume food or not, before they train. If you are performing high intensity or cardio exercise later during the day, make sure you watch your food intake before – too much can make you feel sick, not enough food can make you feel flat, and depleted.

If you are strength training and lifting heavy weights, it is always recommended to fuel your body 60-90mins before your session. When lifting heavy, you want to have as much fuel/energy in your body to achieve and hit your targets. If you haven’t consumed enough food before hand, you may feel flat and depleted and won’t be able to perform your best.

For some people, this means getting 1-3 meals in, before their strength training session.

Energy levels

Training in the morning has been shown to boost energy levels and focus, post session. This is beneficial for those who sit down most of the day, and need energy to concentrate at work. Early morning training has the benefit of kick starting your metabolism for the day. So while you’re sitting down at work, your body is still recovering from your morning sweat session.

Others may prefer to finish off their busy day with an evening session, to tire them out before bed. Training in the evening doesn’t work for everyone though. Training releases endorphins and can wake you body even more, making it counter productive if you need an early night.

Specific Training Goals

Study has shown that your strength is at the lowest point, early in the morning. Therefore, if your goals are power or strength based, your performance will most likely be better in the arfternoon/evening.

Low intensity or steady state cardio isn’t affected by the time of day, but rather your personal energy level. It can be performed either morning or evening, depending on your preference. If you are in a fasted state (before your first meal, when your at your lower-than-normal blood sugar, insulin and glycogen levels), some fat burning may occur.

The most important thing to remember is that you need to find a time the fits your lifestyle, and your environment. Whatever time of day is going to make you train CONSISTENTLY is the best option! Remember to assess your training goal, and fuel your body correctly for your desired training session.

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