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.


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.


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


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.


About Creatine

Creatine is a protein that is naturally made of 3 amino acids: arginine, glycine and methionine. It can also be found in meat and fish, and can be taken as a supplement.

Creatine combines with phosphorus to form phosphocreatine (PC) in the muscle cells. This fuels your muscles during high intensity training, such as sprinting or lifting weights. Creatine raises PC levels around 2%, which means you can sustain all out effort for longer and recover faster between sets.

Protein promotes muscle hypertrophy and protein manufacture. Lot of studies show that short-term creatine supplementation increases body mass. Studies found that creatine supplements improved strength, the number of repetitions performed to fatigue, and the ability to perform repeated sprints.

How does creatine work?

The gains observed are partly due to the increase of cell volume and partly muscle synthesis.

Creatine cause water to move across cell membranes. When muscle cell creatine concentration goes up, water is drawn into the cell an effect that boosts the thickness of muscle fibres by about 15%. The water content of muscle fibres stretches the cell’s outer sheaths.

In aerobic sports there is less evidence for creatine use. This is probably due to the fact the PC energy system is less important during endurance training.

Who should use it?

If you train with weights, or do any sports that includes high-intensity movements (sprints, jumps or throws: rugby, football, hockey, gymnastics, tennis etc), creatine supplements may help increase your performance, strength and muscle mass.

Taking carbs with creatine can be beneficial, as carb intake increases insulin which helps creatine uptake by the muscle cells.

Creatine monohydrate is the most widely available form of creatine. It comprises a molecule of creatine with a molecule of water attached to it. It requires a loading phase. One way to do it is to take about 20-25 gr / day in 4-5 doses for 5 days. After the loading phase the dosage is 2 gr / day.

The side effects of Creatine:

The main side effect is weight gain. This is partly due to the extra water in the muscle cells, and party to increased muscle tissue. It could be disadvantageous in sports where there’s a critical ratio of bodyweight and speed (like running), or in sports where there are weight categories. 


About L-Carnitine

L-Carnitine is one of the naturally occurring amino acids. It is often used as a weight loss supplement. It transports the fatty acids into the cells’ mitochondria where it gets burnt off to use as energy. Your body can produce L-Carnitine from the amino acids lysine and methionine. You can also obtain small amount of L-Carnitine from your diet by eating meat or fish.

L-Carnitine L-Tartrate is the most common form of L-Carnitine that is used in most sport supplements, because of its fast absorption and it may help with muscle soreness and recovery.

In human studies, taking acetyl-L-carnitine daily helped reverse the decline in brain function associated with Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases.

Some studies have demonstrated a potential benefit for reducing blood pressure and the inflammatory process associated with heart disease.

L-carnitine may benefit:

Recovery:It may improve exercise recovery.

Muscle oxygen supply: It may increase oxygen supply to the muscles

Stamina: It may increase blood flow and nitric oxide production, helping delay the “burn” and reduce fatigue

Muscle soreness: It may reduce muscle soreness after exercise

Red blood cell production: It may increase the production of red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout your body and muscles.

L-carnitine has also been shown to reduce symptoms of type 2 diabetes and its associated risk factors.

The main foods high in L-Carnitine are:

  • – beef
  • – pork
  • – fish
  • – chicken
  • – milk

 L-Carnitine has a greater absorption rate from food than from supplements.

Doses of 2 grams or less per day seem to be well tolerated and safe for most people. Some people have reported nausea or other digestive side effects, but no serious issues have been found.


Answering some common questions 1.

I have been receiving a few questions related to my previous posts and in general. I will answer them on here regularly, so keep them coming.

What are electrolytes:

Electrolytes are mineral salts dissolved in the body’s fluid. They include:

* sodium,
* chloride,
* potassium and
* magnesium,
and help to regulate the fluid balance between different body compartments (for example, the amount of fluid inside and outside a muscle cell), and the volume of fluid in the bloodstream.

The water movement is controlled by the concentration of electrolytes on either side of the cell membrane. For example, an increase in the concentration of sodium outside a cell will cause water to move to it from inside the cell. Similarly, a drop in sodium concentration will cause water to move from the outside to the inside of the cell. Potassium draws water across a membrane, so a high potassium concentration inside cells increases the cell’s water content.


What are glucose polymers and maltodextrins?
Between a sugar (1– 2 units) and a starch (several 100,000 units), although
closer to the former, are glucose polymers (maltodextrins). These are chains
of between 4 and 20 glucose molecules produced from boiling corn-starch
under controlled commercial conditions.
The advantage of using glucose polymers instead of glucose or sucrose in a
drink is that a higher concentration of carbohydrate can be achieved (usually
between 10 and 20 g/ 100 ml) at a lower osmolality.


What are multiple transportable carbohydrates?
This term refers to a mixture of carbohydrates (e.g. glucose and fructose;
maltodextrin and fructose) in sports drinks. These carbohydrates are
absorbed from the intestine by different transporters, and using a mixture
rather than a single type of carbohydrate in a sports drink overcomes the
usual limitation of gut uptake of carbohydrate.


I would like to bulk up, how can I do that?
As you probably know, putting on muscle (or shredding fat) lies in your diet/nutrition. If you’d like to put on muscle mass, first thing you need to do is to revise your protein intake. Do you know how much protein you take in? 100 gr of chicken breast contains 25-30 gr protein, 100 gr of white fish has about 24 gr, 100 gr of steak has about 25 gr of protein, 100 gr cottage cheese about 10 gr. Endurance athletes usually take about 1.2 – 1.7 gr protein/kg of bodyweight/day, and bodybuilders take a lot more than that to build muscle. Then you need to revise your carbohydrate intake as well. Carbohydrates/muscle glycogen is the primary energy source when training. If you don’t have enough muscle glycogen, your performance will suffer (less intensity, lighter weights = less muscle), and your body will use amino acids to convert to glycogen (less muscle building). The amount of carb you need to eat depends on a lot of factors: your insulin sensitivity and the rate of your metabolism. People with high metabolism can eat more carbs, and people with high insulin sensitivity (and low metabolism) have to watch their carb intake otherwise they will put on a lot of fat as well along with the muscle.

Keep the questions coming, I will reply to them regularly on here!