The health benefits of foam rolling

The idea of foam rollers is simple: using your own bodyweight and agility you roll specific muscle groups against a firm foam roller to mimic a deep massage. You can control how much pressure you apply and you can locate and focus on problematic areas.

  • They improve blood circulation throughout your skin, muscles, fascia and even tendons and ligaments.
  • More efficient exchange of nutrients and waste products at a cellular level.
  • Lengthening of short, tight muscles, tendons and ligaments.
  • Better posture, stronger core.

When we experience pain or stiffness around weight-bearing joints (hips, knees and spinal joints) a very effective approach is to increase the blood circulation around the problematic area through deep pressure work and stretches.

Sometimes short and tight muscles and ligaments are the root cause of pain and stiffness in the joints.

Some foam rollers and softer, others harder. However it is always you, who controls the pressure that you put on a certain area.

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About meal replacement shakes

What are meal replacement shakes/bars?

These are processed, bottled products, that you drink instead of eating one of your main meals. These replacement shakes are often used to increase or reduce caloric intake, get enough vitamins and minerals in a convenient way, reduce the time you spend with eating for those you eat on the go, or for those who lack the appetite to eat enough.

Unfortunately today’s world is far too busy for most people to prepare their foods at home. Most people tend to eat out during the day as that’s the most convenient solution, and some of us take meal replacement shakes and bars with us to work so that we don’t have to eat the junk that surrounds us.

For some people it’s not about the lack of time, but more about some digestive issues (gastritis or Crohn’s disease) that reduces their appetite therefore they can’t eat enough to fuel their bodies. And some of us think that meal replacement shakes are a great way to quick fat loss.

Although they offer convenience, the majority of these meal replacement shakes/bars have some serious drawbacks. Just because they are advertised as being healthy and contains essential vitamins and minerals, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good choice. Some of these meal replacement bars/shakes have many different ingredients that are processed, and over 20 gr of added sugar per bottle.

So why most of these meal replacement shakes/bars are usually not good for you?

  • The vitamins and minerals are synthetic: they are made, not derived from food, making them more difficult to absorb.
  • Too much added sugar: these shakes contain lots of added sugars, sweeteners or a combination of both.
  • Contain multiple artificial ingredients: including refined vegetable oils, shelf stabilizers, thickeners and preservatives, and colour and flavor enhancers.
  • Most are low in protein and fiber: the protein usually comes from conventional dairy or processed protein powders, and these shakes don’t contain any real high-fiber foods therefore they might not make you feel full for long.
  • They can make inflammation and digestion even worse: None of the synthetic products are beneficial for gut health and can lead to inflammation.

Likely they won’t help with weight loss: meal replacement programs for weight loss are neither healthy nor likely to work as a long lasting weight loss/maintenance because they leave you deprived, restricted, low on energy and full of cravings for food you enjoy eating.

For bespoke nutrition and training plans please get in touch hello@tamaramakar.me

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About Caffeine

Caffeine is one of the most effective exercise supplements available. It is also very cheap and relatively safe to use.

Studies have shown that caffeine can benefit endurance performance, high-intensity exercise and power sports. However, it seems to benefit trained athletes the most.

Caffeine is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and blood levels peak after 90-100 minutes. Caffeine levels remain high for 3-4 hours, then they drop.

Caffeine affects the nervous system to improve focus and energy while reducing tiredness.

The recommended dose varies by body weight, but is typically about 200–400 mg, taken 30–60 minutes before a workout.

Caffeine is a common ingredients in weight loss supplements. Early research has shown that taking caffeine before exercise increases the release of stored fat by 30% .

Another study found that caffeine supplements significantly increased the release of stored fat before and at the end of a workout.

Caffeine can also increase the amount of fat you burn during exercise. It increases heat production and epinephrine, which helps burn additional calories and fat.

Caffeine can affect cells throughout the body, including muscle cells and the brain. Its effects include:

The nervous system: Caffeine activates areas of the brain and nervous system to improve focus and energy, while reducing tiredness

Hormones: ephineprine(adrenaline) is the hormone responsible for the “fight or flight” response, which can increase performan

Fat burning: Caffeine can increase the body’s ability to burn fat via lipolysis, or the breakdown of fat in fat cells

Endorphins: can increase feelings of wellness, and give you the exercise “high” that people often experience after working out

Muscles: Caffeine may impact the motor cortex, which is a part of the brain that signals muscle activation

Body temperature: Caffeine has been shown to increase thermogenesis, or heat production, which helps you burn more calories

Glycogen: Caffeine may also spare muscle carb stores, primarily due to increased fat burning. This can enhance endurance performance

Caffeine eventually gets broken down in the liver.

The side effects of caffeine:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia or sleep disruption
  • Irritability
  • Tremors
  • Stomach discomfort
  • High doses of 600 mg have been shown to increase tremors and restlessness, especially for people who are not used to caffeine.

People who are prone to anxiety may also want to avoid high doses.

Additionally, caffeine is not recommended for people who take certain medications, as well as those with a heart condition or high blood pressure.

Timing may also matter, as late-night or evening caffeine can disrupt sleep. Try to avoid caffeine intake after 4 or 5 pm.

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My transformation

Here is my own transformation: 2007 – 2016.
Yes, 9 years is a long time, however it’s a journey. During these years I tried a lot of things: different foods, supplements, training methods, and put in a lot of time researching the best ways to stay or become lean and put on muscle, and throughout this journey I have been reshaping my physique.
I’ve been training since I was 14. Working hard in the gym was not new to me. However I only realized the importance of nutrition around 2009 and this is when my real transformation started.
During the years I’ve researched different training methods and different approaches to nutrition and diet. I do differentiate between athletes and ‘everyday people’ and I understand the difference in their level of commitment and how manageable it is for them to train and eat right.
I provide nutrition and training plans for all levels, whether it be weight loss, fitness or contest preparation. I am available for personal training at Physique Warehouse Gym in West Molesey (Surrey), or at Elmbridge Xcel Leisure Centre in Walton on Thames. I’m also available for online coaching.
Please get in touch for details: hello@tamaramakar.me
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Hormone rebalancing

Losing bodyfat seems to be the biggest struggle for men and women nowadays. Everyone would like to get into shape for summer, they go on crash diets in the hope that it will sort them out. 
There are 2 ways to approach it: you can go on a crash diet but be warned that what you lose in a short term you will put back on very quickly. Or you can change your lifestyle and by doing that you could keep and maintain your new shape. Most people opt for the first one: quick diet, lose a few pounds, off we go. The problem is that with some of these crash diets, all you do is mess up your metabolism, creating a great environment for a long term struggle for losing weight and keeping it off.

When you’re not losing the bodyfat, it could be because your macros are not in tune with what you’d like to achieve – meaning you’re eating too much. Even if you eat the right, healthy foods, if you’re eating too much of it, it will be stored as bodyfat. Don’t forget: even with the right foods if you’re putting more into your body than what you burn off (by body functions, lifestyle and exercise), the end result is bodyfat.
Another problem could be that your hormones are not in balance. If one of them is out of balance, all of them are out of balance. Hormones are very important for the body to function and each hormone has its own ‘job’ to do. Some hormones are there to protect and help, others are there to hinder if they’re not working well. Hormones are biochemicals, produced in special glands and, when present in the bloodstream, they give instructions to body cells. They are made of components of your food and diet can play a crucial part in keeping your hormone levels balanced.
My recommendation is that if you know you’re eating the right foods in the right amount and you’re still not losing bodyfat, then you might need to rebalance your hormones with a hormone resetting diet. There are different ones that you can try, either look them up, or if you need any help with that, contact me for a hormone resetting diet plan.
 In July only:

£20 for a hormone resetting diet that contains:

* the foods to eat,

* when to eat,

* what supplements to take to help your hormones rebalance 

 Contact me for details!

My latest contest prep

Some of you may know that I’ve been getting ready for a competition. My prep is coming to an end now and I just would like to say a few words about it.It was a different prep this time. I’ve done a lot of research on nutrition – we all would like to make it easier if we could. Now let me tell you something: you can make your prep easier, although you still have to put all the hard work in.

Has it been a more successful prep? Well, let’s wait another week and find out. I can’t say anything in advance, and I wouldn’t want to. I don’t want to project anything – all the athletes know that the last week still brings changes (for better or worse, it can still go either way). However one thing is for sure: I have no food cravings. Before, during the last few weeks of my previous contest preps I was looking at ‘food porn’, checking out what I’m gonna eat after the competition etc at this point I haven’t done any of those, and that’s purely down to the changed diet I used this time. Am I hungry? Yes, of course I am. Have I got energy? No, not much, because I still needed to cut calories to get down my bodyfat levels. 
Most people think that losing bodyfat is only down to dieting hard and working hard. Well, in essence it’s true. However if your hormones are not in balance, all that will go out of the window. You think you’re eating the right food, in the right quantities, you do your cardio, but your bodyfat still doesn’t shift… I’ve been there, done it. Nothing is more frustrating. And people say: you don’t diet hard enough… Well, guess what? You probably do, harder than most, and that’s what makes it even more annoying. 
The best thing I’ve done was starting everything with a hormone resetting diet. It was high time for me as I’d been struggling with metabolic issues for years. Once that was cleared and in balance, I started eating for hormonal health, I’ve used a pro metabolic approach: cut out some foods from my diet completely – and you’d be surprised that I don’t mean sugar. I actually still have sugar in my diet, this close to a competition. And I’ve also added others that help with my metabolism and thyroid health. I will talk about all this later, in more detail, once I’m back to ‘normal’ again. 
If you’re struggling with losing weight, get in touch and I can help you how to get your hormonal balance back. 

Vitamins and minerals

Vitamins and minerals you need for your body to function properly. Generally you can get all your vitamins and minerals from your diet, but there are certain cases when you need to supplement:
* If you are vegetarian, 

* Eat a diet that’s limited because of food allergies and intolerances, 

* Or if you have a disease or condition that doesn’t allow you to digest or absorb nutrients properly.

Otherwise whole foods are a lot better sources than supplements as whole foods also contain a variety of nutrients your body needs – not just one. They also contain fibre that is important for digestion and they also contain phytochemicals that may help protect you against cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis or diabetes.

Fat soluble vitamins:

Vitamin A / beta carotene 

Helps with healthy vision, bone and tissue growth and reproduction. Vitamin A and thyroid are closely related. A deficiency in either can precipitate a deficiency of the other and ideally should be balanced. In too large amounts, however, vitamin A can suppress the thyroid and depress levels of other fat soluble vitamins – especially vitamin D.

Foods: liver, egg yolks, milk

Vitamin D / calciferol
Often called the sunshine vitamin because your skin produces it after being exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun. It helps your body absorb calcium that is responsible for the normal development and maintenance of healthy teeth and bones. 

To get vitamin D you need either sunlight or supplementation.

Vitamin E / tocopherol 
It is an antioxidant that protects red blood cells and may play a role in immune function, DNA repair and other metabolic functions. It is also called the ‘anti-sterility’ vitamin as it opposes estrogen. 
Water soluble vitamins

Vitamin C / ascorbic acid

It’s an antioxidant that maintains healthy tissue and helps the body absorb iron. Also plays a role in wound healing, reducing stress and making one less susceptible to food allergies. 

Foods: orange juice, ripe fruits

Vitamin B3 / niacin
It is one of the 8 B complex vitamins that helps your body convert food to energy. It also helps with blood circulation and improved blood cholesterol levels. 

Vitamin B6 / pyridoxine
It is needed to help your body use protein, form red blood cells and maintain brain function. It facilitates amino acid utilisation, aids in calcium metabolism, supports the liver and helps regulate the facilitation and use of glycogen.

Foods: liver, egg yolk, milk

Vitamin B9 / folate / folic acid 
It is important in red blood cell formation and for healthy cell growth and function. Very important during pregnancy for the developing fetus. 

Vitamin B12
It has an essential role in red blood cell formation, cell metabolism and nerve function. 

About minerals in the next post.

Holiday is coming to an end

In the past 1.5 years I’ve had a blast. Visited Istanbul, Turkey, then went over to Cairo Egypt and stayed there for a year. This year was happy and challenging. Moving to a different country is always challenging, but when it has such a different culture, it was truly amazing. Made some friends, some amazing people – and had some enemies like everyone else. Most part of this year in Egypt I was dieting: first I was getting ready for the WABBA Universe last November. That prep didn’t really go well for different reasons. Then had some time off and started prepping again for the WABBA Hercules Olympia in May in the UK, then the NABBA Worlds in June in Malta and finally the WFF Universe in France the week after. Just before I left for the competition in Malta I decided not to return to Egypt anymore. I came back to Hungary to see my family and relax a bit. It was a long dieting, I was very exhausted. I stayed a bit longer than I planned. I haven’t seen my family for 2 years so I guess this visit was due.

We have done a lot of things together: went to open markets, went cycling with my dad a few times, had birthday parties and BBQs, made some new friends in the gym where I trained and generally I had a great time. But everything comes to an end and now I’m getting ready to return to the UK.

I will return on the 16th September, staying again near Heathrow. I haven’t got a place yet but I’m constantly looking. Probably will not be able to rent a place through an estate agent because they need work references which I haven’t got yet, but I will have to look for a private landlord. If anyone knows anything, please let me know!

Here are a few photos from my stay in Hungary. I have some more on my phone, I will post them later:

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A lovely summer day

Today it was a lovely hot, sunny day here in Cairo. This was the first day for weeks that I had not much to do during the day, and it was my rest day from training, too. I was sitting on my balcony, enjoying the sunshine, reading a book and resting.

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The weather is getting really hot here in Egypt, the temperature is around 40C nowadays. Not really ideal to move around outdoors during the day. Even at night it’s still hot, sometimes have to leave the aircon on to be able to sleep. But I’m not complaining! The sunshine is still better than the rain 🙂