Lose Your Muffin Top for Good

Lose your muffin top for good. The unsightly bulge of fat that sits around the waistband and hangs over your jeans like the crust of a muffin that overhangs the cup cake is aptly named the muffin top. It is the scourge of anyone who wants to wear hipsters, a low slung belt or who just wants to look good in skinny jeans. However this particular area of fat storage is down to poor regulation of your blood sugar and the hormone insulin. Once you get these under control you will start to lose fat from this unsightly area.

The first thing you can do is to control your blood sugar. The best way to do this is to eat a low glycemic load diet. This involves consuming healthy protein (such as meat, fish, seafood, poultry and eggs) and fats (such as nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocados, oily fish and coconut oil) with low glycemic load fruits, vegetables, grain and legumes.

The glycemic load is a system of classifying carbohydrate containing foods by how quickly the carbohydrate is released into the blood stream. The GL system scores foods as low GL that are less than 10, moderate GL that are 11-20 and high GL as anything over 20.

It is beyond the scope of this article to outline the GL of all carbohydrate containing foods, but a general rule is that thin skinned fruits such as berries, apples, pears and plums and green leafy vegetables are all low GL. Things like potatoes, bread and whole grains are moderate GL and all processed foods such as sugar, sweats, chocolates and white grains are high GL. This may be a bit of an over simplification but you will certainly start losing weight if you eat lean protein and healthy fats with mainly low GL food, a little moderate GL food and no high GL foods. See here for more on the GL of foods.

A good way to bust through a plateau of weight loss and start melting away the muffin top is to do a 2 week low carb boot camp as used by Steve Hines in his nutritionist for weight loss programme:

2-week boot camp phase

The boot camp phase is a higher protein, lower carbohydrate diet. It forms the foundation of how you should eat to initially lose weight and then – with certain foods added back in for a fuller varied diet – maintain a healthy weight.

This type of “low carb” boot camp phase is the staple of many successful weight loss programmes including, but not exclusively:

• Anne Louise Gittleman – Fat Flush plan
• Charles Poliquin – BioSignature
• Patrick Holford – The low GL diet

I have taken different things from the above named programmes as well as from the likes of Jonny Bowden and Mauro Di Pasquale to create the following 2-week bootcamp.

After the initial two weeks other foods can be added back to the diet to make it a more balanced diet to meet all your nutritional needs.

Number 1: Protein in Greek means “of first importance” so make sure your first choice in a meal is a good quality portion of protein. Once you have worked out your daily protein requirement simply divided this by 3 or 5 (depending on whether you eat 3 or 5 meals a day) and eat that amount of protein at each meal.

Example

Protein requirement = 550g per day
• Breakfast: 120g
• Snack: 40g
• Lunch: 150g
• Snack: 40g
• Dinner: 200g

Weigh your protein after it has been cooked to make sure you are getting the right amount at each meal. Make sure to eat quality organic meat and fish to avoid oestrogens, growth hormones, antibiotics and pesticides stored in animal fat.

Number 2: For 14 days eat a 100% strict LOW carbohydrate diet (this means NO alcohol, grains, fruits, dairy, starchy vegetables etc…) except:

• Artichokes, avocado (1 a day), asparagus, aubergine, bamboo shoots, beetroot greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, raw carrots, celery, chard, collards, courgette, cucumber, fennel, green beans, kale, lettuce leaves (all types), mushrooms, olives (3 a day), onions, parsley, peas, peppers, radishes, sauerkraut, spinach, tomatoes, turnips, water chestnuts and watercress.

You can eat as much of these fibrous carbohydrates a day as you can as they are in low carbohydrate content, high in fibre, rich in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients and they cause only a little insulin to be released. Aim for 4-5 servings of these vegetables a day. Fibrous carbohydrates DO NOT include any grains, breads or starches – only the vegetables on the list above.

You can also eat:

• 2 eggs a day
• 2-3 servings a day of nuts or 2 tablespoons of nut butter
• Lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, horseradish and pickles.
• Ginger, garlic, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, turmeric, basil, thyme, oregano, black pepper, sage, cardamom etc…
• Butter, olive oil, walnut, avocado and sesame oil.

Here’s an example of how to do it for a 75 kg male:

Breakfast: 7am
100g salmon, 6-10 nuts, black coffee and water.

Mid morning snack: 10am
Large Romaine lettuce leaves, 50g of sliced beef, horseradish – crepes.

Lunch: 1pm
170g chicken breast with mixed leaf salad, tomato, ½ avocado, radishes and 1 tbsp olive oil.

Mid afternoon snack: 3:30pm
Crudités of carrot, pepper and courgette with 50g of prawns

Dinner: 7pm
150g steak, steamed broccoli, cauliflower and a small slice of butter to season the vegetables

Beverages
1.5 l of water throughout the day
2 cups of green tea
NO ALCOHOL

As I said at the end of the 2 weeks slowly add back other foods for a varied diet, start with thin skinned fruits- adding back 1-2 servings a day for a week or two, then try sweet potato, humus or whole grain rice. The key is to eat small amounts of these carbohydrates making vegetables the centre of your carbohydrate content of a meal.

Supplements

Certain supplements have an effect on lowering insulin production or making you more sensitive to insulin. Here are some examples:

• 2-3 g of fish oil with every meal
• Multivitamin and mineral 1 a day
• Cinnamon
• Chromium
• Fenugreek

So when you eat a low carb diet to control insulin and re-sensitise your cells to insulin with certain supplements you’ll soon melt away that muffin top.

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7 Signs Your Fitness Trainer May Be From the Stone Age

  

In this article we’re going to look at the techniques used by trainers who really haven’t kept abreast of recent research and modern techniques. At best these practices are useless while at worst they can be downright dangerous. Let’s kick off…

1. Your trainer makes you do steady state cardio

Unless you are extremely overweight (morbidly obese) or are completely new to exercise steady state cardio like going for a 30 minute power walk / jog will not help you lose weight.

If you have only a few stone to lose or have been exercising for a while do not do steady state cardio.

Just go into any gym in the world and you will see most of the fat unfit people plodding along on the treadmill watching the TV of riding a bike whilst reading a magazine. If you can watch the TV or read whilst you are training you are wasting your time. Instead of steady state cardio  do interval training, this is where you run hard or sprint for 30 to 60 seconds, then walk or jog for between 1 and 2 minutes. Repeat this process for 10-20 minutes. This type of exercise is a different kettle of fish to steady state cardio. Intervals are great for raising your metabolism and you will be burning calories for hours after.

 

2. Your trainer doesn’t make you lift weights 

You need to lift weights! Yes even you girls need to do weight training; this will not turn you in to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Weight lifting builds muscle tissue and muscle is your friend. It makes you more sensitive to insulin (which is good) and gives you more metabolically active tissue that can burn fat 24/7. Go in to any gym in the world and you will see the lean and strong people in the weight training section.

 

3. You do the same programme week after week

You need to change your workout routine every 3-4 weeks. This works especially well if you are training 3-4 times a week. Your body is especially good at adapting to the demands imposed upon it and you will eventually get diminishing return on your investment. Your body needs a constant change in stimulus to get results.

As a rule of thumb, when you change your programmes every 3 weeks or so you should alternate between phases of trying to build muscle with phases of trying to build strength. For building muscle you would use higher reps and fewer sets, slower tempos and more exercises per body part. For strength you would use lower reps and more sets, faster tempos and fewer exercises per body part.

 

4. Your core work consists of crunches and BOSU balls

Doing crunches and training on unstable devices such as BOSU balls and Swiss balls are promoted to be the best way to train your core. Sure, you get muscle activity in your abs, back and pelvic floor, but training on unstable devices does not activate your “core” any greater than exercising on the floor.

What you need to realise is the results of these studies that show greater activation of core muscles whilst training on unstable devices demonstrate levels of muscle activity of less than 50% maximum contraction. The best exercises that create large activation in abdominal muscles are squats, dead lifts and chin ups! Of course if you add in some “core exercises” such as Swiss ball crunches and planks at the end of your workout for fun / variety – go for it, but make proper weight training the focus of your sessions.

 

5. Functional training is the centre of your workouts

Functional training is the buzz in the fitness industry, but this type of training is BS! Walk into many gyms and you would think the personal trainers are training acrobats and circus acts. People squatting whilst standing on Swiss Balls, jumping on and off BOSU balls, faffing around with the VIPr. As with core training if you want a bit of entertainment training at the end of a workout for fun go for it, but make body weight exercises, lifting weights and intervals type training the core of your workouts.

 

6. Your trainer shouts and screams at you as motivation 

The military approach of being shouted and screamed at, or the no pain no gain attitude works for some, but for most people they need to be encouraged and motivated through a workout. Sometimes it’s better to listen to a client and if they are tired and need an easier session. We all get stressed and even the top athletes know how to modulate their training based on how they  feel. However, having said that this should not be an excuse to have easy sessions each time you train!

 

7. You are told to eat carbs for energy

Carbohydrate loading is a concept that both athletes and the general pubic know of. This is largely due to the marketing of carbohydrate based products such as whole grains, sugary snack foods and sports drinks being the champion or elite sports performance, and in some part to information passed on via successful ex-elite athletes extolling the virtues of the dietary regimens that propelled them to the top of their sport. The concept of carb loading improving performance has been so successful that people think they need to carb load for all and any sports, be it before going to the gym, running a marathon or playing chess!

Carb loading is only really applicable for people exercising continuously at a moderate to high intensity, for 90 minutes or longer per training session. This immediately rules out gym goers and weekend warriors who play team sports. Most team sports or exercise classes rarely demand 90 minutes of continuous high intensity activity.

 

So there you have it. These seven points are a sure fire way to tell if your instructor is still in the Stone Age when it comes to exercise prescription. If they espouse any or, even worse!, all of these tips then run very fast in the opposite direction.

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