My message for beginners

A short video for those of you who contacted me on social media asking me questions about how to lose weight or get bigger.

Why too much sugar is bad in your diet

Added sugars, like high fructose corn syrup and sucrose, contains a lot of calories with no essential nutrients. That’s why they’re called empty calories.

There are no proteins, essential fats, vitamins or minerals in sugar – only calories.

Sugar is the leading contributor to obesity in both adults and children. People who consume a lot of sugars are more likely to become obese, and this applies to all age groups.

Sugar is very easy to overeat. Some nutrients make us feel fuller for longer, therefore we eat less within a 24 hr period. Protein and fiber are known for their satiating properties, but sugar isn’t. In fact, foods and drinks high in added sugar are extremely easy to over-consume. Sugar-sweetened beverages are the worst because even though they’re high in calories, your brain doesn’t register them like solid food. So you won’t eat less food to compensate for those calories.

Sugar can contribute to insulin resistance, that can cause serious metabolic problems. Insulin is a very important hormone when it comes to weight loss. It allows blood glucose (blood sugar) to enter cells to be utilized for energy. Too much glucose left in the blood can cause complications, like diabetes, kidney damage or blindness.

Insulin resistance is when cells become resistant to insulin which means it stops working as it should. Insulin resistance is believed to be the major cause for metabolic diseases.

Sugar also causes tooth decay. When we eat sugar, the harmful bacteria in the mouth can use it for energy. This allows them to grow, multiply and secrete acids that erode the protective enamel of the teeth. Sugar alcohols are popular alternatives that may help protect the teeth.

What you can do if you would like to lose weight is to cut back on added sugars in your drinks and foods. If you miss the sweet taste, you can use certain natural sweeteners to cure your cravings.

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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 refined carbs

Not all carbs are created equal. There are lots of whole foods that are high in carbs but still incredibly healthy and nutritious.

And there are refined or simple carbs, that have most of their nutrients and fibers removed. Eating refined carbs can lead to many illnesses including obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

So what are refined carbs?

There are 2 types of refined carbs:

  • Sugars, like high fructose corn syrup and table sugar
  • Refined grains: grains that have their nutritious and fibrous part removed. The biggest source is white flour made from refined wheat.

Refined carbs have been stripped off most of their fiber and vitamin content therefore they are considered empty calories. They also absorb quickly in the bloodstream, therefore they have a high glycemic index (GI).

Sugars and refined carbs are a very large part of the total carb intake in many countries.

The main sources of refined carbs are: white pasta, white rice, white flour, white bread, pastries, sodas, snacks, sweets, breakfast cereals and added sugars.

Because refined carbs are low in fiber and digested quickly they cause major swings in blood sugar levels. Foods with high GI promote short term fullness, lasting for about an hour. Low GI foods promote long term fullness, lasting for 2-3 hours. Blood sugar levels drop after about 1-2 hrs eating refined carbs. This promotes hunger and stimulates cravings. When you crave food, you’re prone to overeating.

Refined carbs can cause inflammation in the body which could be the primary cause of obesity and leptin resistance.

Studies show that a high consumption of refined carbs is linked with insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels. These are the main symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Refined carbs also increase blood triglyceride levels which is a risk factor for both heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

However not all carb foods are bad. There are many foods that contain healthy carbs because they’re great sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals. These include:

  • oats
  • buckwheat
  • quinoa
  • bananas
  • sweet potatoes
  • beetroot
  • oranges
  • blueberries
  • grapefruits
  • apples

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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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How to boost the immune system?

The immune system is an interactive network of organs, cells and proteins that protect the body from viruses and bacteria or any foreign substances. The immune system works to neutralize and remove pathogens like bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi that enter the body, recognize and neutralize harmful substances from the environment, and fight against the body’s own cells that have changes due to an illness.

The cells of the immune system originate in the bone marrow, then migrate to guard the peripheral tissues, circulating in the blood and in the specialized system of vessels called the lymphatic system.

When our immune system is working properly, we don’t even notice it. It’s when the performance of our immune system is compromised that we face illness. Underactivity of the immune system results in severe infections and tumors of immunodeficiency, while overactivity results in allergic and autoimmune diseases.

Give your immune system a boost with these tips:

  • Supplement with echinacea: Research shows that one of the most significant echinacea benefits is its effects when used on recurring infections.
  • Supplement with probiotics: Probiotics are good bacteria that help you digest nutrients that boost the detoxification of your colon and support your immune system.
  • Eat more ginger: It’s believed that ginger helps to break down the accumulation of toxins in our organs due to its warming effects. It’s also known to cleanse the lymphatic system,our network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials.
  • Eat more berries: berries are full with antioxidants, that are excellent for promoting healthy immune response.
  • Get more rest: restful sleep is absolutely essential for health and recovery. When you sleep certain protective cytokines in your body increase in levels, and inflammatory cells decline, which means that less sleep could result in a deprived immune system.
  • Have some garlic: it is great to avoid any cold, flu or other viruses. If you don’t like the taste of it, try capsules.
  • Aerobic exercise boosts immune system: people who are fit and active are less likely to suffer from illnesses and the symptoms are less severe.

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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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Tips on how to avoid putting on fat during Xmas

Xmas is coming fast and when the family and friends gather together it’s always accompanied by food and drinks. It’s a celebration, isn’t it? More often than not the food is not a healthy one and you might start panicking what to do to not to put on weight this season. Here are a few tips that might help you:

Stay active! Just because it’s Xmas it doesn’t mean everything stops – apart from your metabolism, that might stop if you are not active and overeat. Some of the gyms are open during xmas time, and even if yours is not, you can always go for a walk – slow or fast – after your meal or in the evening.

Get more Vitamin D3: If there’s no direct sunshine where you live – especially here in the UK, get some Vitamin D3 supplements. Vitamin D3 contributes to the normal function of the immune system and healthy inflammatory response and to the maintenance of normal muscle function.

Eat more protein and veggies: meat and vegetables/fibre help keep blood glucose and insulin levels down, help you burn fat and keep you from getting sick. Not to mention that they will make you feel full, too so you might eat less carbs.

Lower your sugar and carb intake: with the plates full with processed food and sugars/simple carbs, the single most effective thing you can do is watch your portion size of these foods. Don’t have a whole slice of cake, try only a bite. Don’t have a whole plate of pasta or other high carb food, try just a spoonful. If you watch your portion sizes you can probably try most of the xmas foods without being sick afterwards or feeling guilty for eating too much of them.

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For athletes: 9 science based ways to lose weight

Recently I’ve come across an article that talks about 9 science-based ways for athletes to lose weight. When you think about it, it’s always more difficult to lose weight when you’re always training, always eating clean. Humans need a certain amount of bodyfat to maintain basic functions. Too much bodyfat – however – can negatively affect an athlete’s performance. So what can athletes do to ‘step up’ their weight loss to be in prime condition and shape?

  1.  The first point this article suggests is to lose weight off season. We are talking about b athletes in general. It does make sense to try and lose the excess bodyfat offseason because it’s very difficult to reach peak fitness while dieting. When you’re not eating enough calories, your athletic perfomance will suffer. Losing weight offseason will give you more time to lose the excess bodyfat as well, so that you don’t have to rush the fat loss and can stick to the healthy pace of 0.5 kg / week – minimising the muscle loss.
  2. Avoid crash diets. I think we don’t really need to prove this point, athletes know that they need a certain amount of calories to be able to perform at the training sessions. Also drastically reducing your caloric intake will affect your metabolism and hormonal balance. Athletes should only cut their calories by no more than 300-500 kcal a day.

  3. Eat less sugar and more fibre. Low carb diets are proven to be the best for fat loss. However restricting the carb intake too much will affect your athletic performance. To reduce the carb intake cut out added sugars, and avoid cane juice, dextrin, maltodextrin, barley malt, caramel, fruit juice concentrate, fruit juice crystals and any type of syrup. Instead increase your intake of vegetables high in fibre.

  4. Increase your protein intake. Protein promotes fat loss in several ways: high protein diets increase feelings of fullness and the number of calories burnt through digestion. High protein diets also prevent muscle loss during periods of weight loss. Therefore athletes restricting their calories to lose weight should eat between 1.7 – 2.8 gr protein / kg of bodyweight / day.

  5. Spread protein intake throughout the day. 20-30 gr protein per meal is sufficient to stimulate muscles to produce protein for the following 2-3 hrs. Eating a snack containing 40 gr protein before bed can increase muscle protein synthesis during night. This may help prevent some of the muscle loss expected during sleep.

  6. Refuel well after training. Eating the right foods after competing or training is very important for the athletes, especially when trying to lose bodyfat. Proper refuelling is very important especially on days when you have more than 1 events with less than 8 hours recovery time. Carbs with protein can speed up recovery time and promote protein production in your muscles.

  7. Strength training can also help holding on to the muscle when trying to lose bodyfat. Research shows that both protein intake and strength training stimulate muscle protein synthesis and combining the two can produce an even better effect.

  8. After your diet, increase your calories gradually. It may be tempting to start eating normally again after you’ve reached your desired body fat percentage, but that would lead you to gain bodyfat back. Gradually increasing your caloric intake can help restore your hormone levels and metabolism better, minimizing the weight gain.

  9. Here are some other ways you can achieve weight loss:

    • measuring your portions and keeping track of what you eat is scientifically proven to help you get better results.
    • drinking before consuming a meal can help you consume 22% less calories
    • eat slowly, aim to take at least 20 mins for a meal
    • avoid alcohol
    • get enough sleep, not enough sleep can increase hunger and appetite by 24%. Not getting enough sleep will also affect your athletic performance.
    • reduce your stress. Having high stress levels will increase cortisol levels which promotes food cravings and drive to eat. Mental and physical stress can also prevent proper recovery.

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