My road to become an IFBB Pro

I thought I’d share my story with you guys, how I got here where I am now.

My prep actually started end of February. I was 79kg, and I was getting ready for the Nabba Worlds in June in Italy. I was very keen, had the passion burning inside me. I wanted to win! Last year I finished 2nd at the Nabba Worlds in Russia and I really wanted to prove myself this year. Athletes would know that a contest prep is not easy, but you can always step it up when you’re keen, so I went all in.

So June came, and I went to Italy to compete. Finished 2nd again - not gonna lie, I was pissed off. We planned another competition a couple of weeks after that, Portugal or Spain, but I said no. I knew what improvements I had to make and I needed a bit more time to make them happen.

So after my first comp mid June I went straight into prepping for the second one in November. First I wanted to go to Poland but then we learnt that the @ironrebelshow was gonna be organised again in November - and we went there with @abe.superman In May when he competed, so I changed my mind and I registered for Denmark.

I had to bring up my shoulders, especially my rear delts, so I started training them 3x a week. My glutes and hammies needed more shape, so that meant glutes and hammies 2x a week, and quads/full legs with glutes 1x a week. Are you keeping score? That meant Ꭵ hᎪᎠ ᏆᎾ ᏆᏒᎪᎥᏁ ᏆᎳᎥᏟᎬ Ꭺ ᎠᎪᎽ ᏆᎳᎥᏟᎬ Ꭺ ᎳᎬᎬᏦ... and this is exactly what I did for 6 months to get into the shape I needed for the @ironrebelshow in Denmark last weekend.

The first pic was taken 2 weeks into my prep in March. The second pic was 1 week before the second comp last weekend. I’m proud of this package, I’m proud of the improvements I’ve made and the condition I’ve got myself into. I know there’s more to come, but so far that was my best ever shape.

About diabetes – part 1

There are 3 main types of diabetes mellitus:

  • Type 1 Diabetes: results from the pancreas failing to produce enough insulin
  • Type 2 Diabetes: a condition of defective insulin signalling
  • Gestational Diabetes: a condition where women without previously diagnose diabetes exhibit high blood glucose levels during pregnancy.

When insulin isn’t produced or acts ineffectively, glucose remains circulating in the blood, leading to a condition known as hyperglycemia. Long term hyperglycemia can result in the dysfunction and failure of various organs and systems, including the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart and blood vessels.

The key players in diabetes are the pancreas and the liver.

The pancreas is both an endocrine and exocrine gland.

Exocrine means that it’s a gland that release its contents through a tube from inside to outside the body. It helps with digestion by producing important enzymes that break down food, which allows the body to absorb the nutrients.

The endocrine function primarily involves the secretion of the 2 primary hormones relevant to diabetes management: insulin and glucagon.

Insulin increases the storage of glucose, fatty acids and amino acids in cells and tissues and is considered an anabolic hormone. Insulin is a key player in the storage and use of fuels within the body.

Disorders in insulin production and signalling have widespread and devastating effects on the body’s organs and tissues. Glucagon is a peptide hormone produced by alpha cells in the pancreas. The pancreas releases glucagon when blood sugar levels fall too low. It opposes the action of insulin by raising the concentration of glucose in the blood.

Dietary carbs are not essential, however, the body needs glucose. The brain typically needs about 130 gr of glucose every day. Not all glucose has to come from the diet because the liver has the ability to synthesise it.

The liver serves as a warehouse for glucose storage and production. It can also produce fatty acids under certain conditions.

As blood glucose and insulin levels increase, the liver increases its absorption of glucose. Glucose is stored as glycogen. The amount of glycogen stored depends on circulating insulin and glucose levels. When blood glucose levels drop, insulin production falls. The shortage of insulin signals the liver to release its assets by sending glucose back into the blood to keep the body nourished.

When carb intake is restricted, it lowers blood sugar and insulin levels. As insulin levels fall and energy is needed, fatty acids leave their respected fat cells and enter the bloodstream. From here they’re taken up by specific cells and metabolised. Ketone bodies are molecules created in the liver, that are pushed into the blood stream where they’re utilised by skeletal and heart muscles cells as fuel. Also, the brain begins to use ketones as an alternate fuel source when blood levels are high enough to cross the blood-brain barrier. When this happens a person is said to be in nutritional ketosis.

Ketogenic diets are very popular because they suppress insulin and that seems to be very effective in the treatment and management of obesity and T2D. However the severe restriction of carbs (often below 30 gr) may increase the potential for hypoglycaemia of people with T1D.

Lipogenesis is creating fat within the body from glucose or other substrates. It takes place mostly in the liver. Lipogenesis occurs in the liver during times of calorific excess and overfeeding. The liver converts excess glucose to fatty acids. These fatty acids can be stored in the liver or transported via lipoproteins (carriers) to muscle and fat tissue for future fuel use or storage. The ratio that is stored or used is highly dependent on energy intake vs. energy expenditure.

In a healthy liver, insulin halts the production of glucose and instead promotes glycogen storage or generates fatty acids during times of energy excess.

The liver of a person with T1D has no internal break system. Insulin deficiency allows glucose production in the liver to go uncontrolled leading to hyperglycaemia and ketoacidosis if unmanaged. When there’s not enough insulin available, glucose cannot enter the cells for use as energy. Therefore the liver produces even more glucose in an attempt to provide energy for the starved cells, but because insulin is not available, none of this glucose can enter the cells. It builds up and starves the cells even further. Consequently, administration of insulin medication is needed to facilitate the entry of glucose into cells.

Insulin increases glucose uptake in the liver by facilitating the creation of glycogen and decreases glucose output.

Prolonged elevations in insulin that result from an energy surplus increase the body’s ability to produce fat via the process of lipogenesis.

Source:

Phil Graham: Diabetic Muscle

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.

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

img_6332

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.

vit&min

How to step up your training – increase intensity

If you go to the gym on most days and you do the same workouts day in day out, not only you will get bored of it but your body will adapt to it, too. That means you will not see changes from the same workout after a while.

There are different techniques for the advanced athletes to step up their training and shock their bodies.
Go to failure: muscle failure is when you cannot do any more full reps with that weight. Most people don't go to this extent because this is when the going gets tough. When we say you need to do 8 - 12 reps for muscle hypertrophy that means you cannot do more reps than 8 - 12. So if you could do another 3-4 reps with that weight, increase it.
Drop set: that means you do your regular reps with your weight and when you cannot do any more reps (you reach muscle failure) you drop the weights by 20-30% and continue the set until failure. For eg: you are doing bench press with 100 kg, you rep out to failure and when you cannot do any more full reps you strip off 20-30% of the weight (70-80 kg) and continue the set until failure.
Forced reps: you will need a training partner for this, unless you do certain exercises where you can self spot yourself: for eg one arm dumbbell curl. You do your set to muscle failure and when you cannot do any more full reps your training partner helps you with the concentric part of the lift.
Negatives: again, you will need a training partner for this. You only do 3-4 reps with this technique, not the full 10-12 reps. You load the weight heavier than you normally do. For eg: if you do bicep curls with 15 kg dumbbells for 12 reps, then you will use 17 kg or even 20 kg for this exercise. Your training partner helps you with the concentric part of the lift (ie: curling up) and you lower the weight yourself slowly. We are a lot stronger on the eccentric part of the lift, than on the concentric part of the lift, that's why you need a partner to help you with the concentric part.
These are just a few ideas you could try, if you didn't know about them.
For a personalized training plan please contact me:
hello@tamaramakar.me or KIK: tamaramakar
For personal training/coaching/contest prep FOR MEN AND WOMEN: please book an appointment in advance and see me at True Gym Mohandeseen.
#spacefitness #panatta
Panatta1

Bye Bye Gold’s

Another year has passed. I arrived to Egypt end of March, started lecturing at Gold's Gym Academy in April and got a job at Gold's Gym Egypt in May. It was a very happy period indeed. I felt loved and appreciated. Then the months passed and things have changed. It is not shocking at all that most people are not what they show themselves to be. With time and age you get used to it and you just move on. In the past few months it has escalated to a level where I started feeling stressed and pushed. It will always be beyond me why certain people feel that they have to do things to try and make others feel less or as miserable as they are, although they haven't got much to show up for themselves. Ignorance? Jealousy? Or just simply bad manners? Not important. It's not worth any more space in my life or on my blog.

The only thing that is important that I have put an end to it yesterday – and I feel free again. It's like a breath of fresh air, a big relief for me. Finally I can focus on something that I actually like doing: body building and teaching body building/fitness to people who are interested and want to learn.

Finally I am free to do body building seminars anywhere and I can have my private clients as soon as I sort out a gym to train them. I am also available for any guest posing or guest appearance in any gym in Cairo/Egypt. Please get in touch for more details: tamara@tamaramakar.me

Watch this space because big things are going to happen very soon. I have a few competitions lined up for 2015, and I also have my plan B.

Keep people in your life that truly love you, motivate you, encourage you, inspire you, enhance you and make you happy and get rid of the negative shit - job is done, look forward to a happier chapter in my life.

IMG_9267

IMG_9268

How much calories do I need?

Constant question from athletes that how much calories they need, especially when they start cutting for a competition.

Usually my first question is: how much are you eating now? Simple question, but not everyone can answer. My experience – especially here in Egypt – that people don't know how much they're eating. Food is not measured, it's all just guessing. 

First of all you need to know how much you're eating. You should know your macros: how much protein, carbs and fats you're taking on a daily basis. If you're offseason, at least a ballpark number. If you're in contest prep, then it should be more accurate. 

During contest prep the main aim is to get rid of the fat while maintaining the muscle. That means your protein intake has to be high enough to keep the muscle and your carb intake low enough to lose the fat. 

The caloric intake is different for everyone. It depends on several factors: how much lean mass you have, how much you weight, how often you work out, what lifestyle you live (sedentary or active), even what job you do! Therefore a generic nutrition plan will not work for everyone. 

General rule is that if you want to maintain muscle you need to eat 1 gr of protein for every 1 lb of lean mass you have. Meaning: if your competition weight is 70 kg (154 lbs) then you need to eat at least 154 gr of protein a day. 

In regards to carbs it depends on the factors I've mentioned above, plus your body type, your insulin sensitivity and therefore your metabolism. If you have high metabolism, chances are you have low insulin sensitivity therefore you need more carbs. If your metabolism is slower, you need less carbs.

How you can increase your metabolism while dieting: eating small portions of food on a regular basis is one way to increase metabolism. The other way is to increase your physical activity by doing cardio. When doing cardio make sure you always have enough protein in your body to prevent fat loss. Supplementation of amino acids and BCAAs is essential when cutting.

The fat intake depends on your carb intake. Generally speaking if you are low on carbs, you need higher fats, if you're relatively high on carbs, you need to be on low fat. Fats should be healthy fats, definitely not trans fats. Healthy fats include: fish, salmon, nuts and seeds to name a few. Transfats come from mostly fried foods and a lot of other 'snacks' from the shelves of a supermarket (crisps, or any junk food really).

So be careful with what and how much you eat when your main aim is to lean out. 

Personalized nutrition and training plans and online coaching are available: hello@tamaramakar.me

Soon: private coaching is coming in Cairo. Contact me for details!

 

Muscle Mania registration

Yesterday I went to Balance Gym Tagamo to help register a friend of mine for Muscle Mania, and met a lot of other great athletes there, too.

Balance gym is a very well equipped gym in 2 locations in Cairo: in Tagamo and Sheraton. The Tagamo branch is the newer one with brand new Cybex equipment. I always liked training around in different gyms and I never mind travelling for a good gym to train certain body parts there. In the UK people always thought I was crazy because I used to travel an hour for a good gym for legs - well, probably you can see why... The results talk for themselves. When it comes to my training, I don't compromise.

Muscle Mania Middle East will be held in Cairo next Friday (3rd April) and I really look forward to meeting all these phenomenal Egyptian athletes. Here are a few photos from yesterday:

IMG_8935 IMG_8936 IMG_8941 IMG_8944 IMG_8955

Feel free to come and say hi when you see me there!

About Leptin

Leptin is the 'satiety' hormone produced by fat cells and it helps regulating energy balance by inhibiting hunger and it controls your metabolism. Leptin acts as the 'opposite' of ghrelin hormone (see my previous post).
How much leptin is released from the fat cells depends on how much fat there is: the more fat you have the more leptin is released.
Simply put: When your leptin levels increase, your brain sends a signal that you're 'full' and your metabolic rate increases because of this signal. When leptin levels decrease, your brain sends a signal that you're no longer 'full' and your metabolic rate decreases. The longer your body is in calorie deficit (hunger) the lower your leptin levels decrease and your metabolic rate slows down.
If you constantly eat above your maintenance calorie levels, you can become leptin resistant. The more leptin resistant your body becomes, the more fat you will store as your body will not be able to distinguish if your body fat levels are too high and the leptin receptors are desensitized.
How to maintain normal leptin levels:
* try and stay lean,
* don't go on for too long to bulk,
* when you feel your metabolism slowed down, include a cheat meal/day. The excess calories will kickstart your leptin production (but only if you had calorie deficit beforehand for some time).

Personalised nutrition plans are available, contact me for details: hello@tamaramakar.me

leptin