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Your Burning Health and Fitness Questions


Health and fitness doesn’t need to be complicated, but for some reason it has become that way. I want this blog to be resource for all you lovely ladies out there which is why I asked you guys to submit your questions on Instagram last week … and DRUMROLL PLEASE – You asked, I answered all of your burning health and fitness questions. Enjoy!

 

Why is everyone so obsessed with carbs? Love em or hate em?

Previous fad diets have really misinformed people about carbs. Think of carbs in your body like gas in a car. Without gas, a car won’t run, without carbs your body won’t have the fuel to carry out necessary daily mental and physical activities. Just like there are multiple grades of gas for your car, there are different types of carbs for your body! Focus on getting most of your carbs from complex carbohydrates: things like whole grains, veggies and beans. They are released slower, minimizing that blood sugar spike and drop, keeping you fuller, longer.


Bottom line: Carbs are GOOD, in moderation

 

How bad is sugar?



At the end of the day, nothing is inherently BAD for you. Sugar can be a very complicated subject but I’ll do my best to try and simplify it!


The human body needs sugar – sugar helps power our cells, and store energy for later. Plants convert sunlight to sugar while humans convert sugar into fuel.

Sugars are classified as carbohydrates, specifically simple carbohydrates which means they digest faster in comparison to starches and fiber which digest slower, and keep us fuller, for longer.


Like I mentioned above, no food, including sugar is inherently bad. It tends to come down to what types and how much we are consuming. For example, most high sugar foods are refined, tasty and hard to stop eating. Because they are simple carbohydrates we absorb the energy quickly and easily which stimulates the reward/pleasure centres in our brain. Plus, hidden sugars in things like granola, yogurt, and juice can add up fast without us even realizing.


Bottom line: Sugar is NOT a health food. It is not nutritious. However, we also can’t blame sugar for weight gain or disease. We can’t say that X amount of sugar is good for everyone or that we should all cut sugar out all together. It’s much more complex than that. In the end, be aware of your sugar intake, practice mindful eating and add treats into your diet in moderation.

 

Is intermittent fasting useful for weight loss?

It can be. We have evolved to be in sync with the day/night cycle i.e a circadian rhythm. Our metabolism has adapted to daytime food, nighttime sleep, but with sleep schedules off and late night, snack filled, Netflix binges (we’re ALL guilty of that!) we tend to eat for a much larger window.


Many people who try intermittent fasting will adopt a 16 hour fasting window and an 8 hour eating window (i.e. finish eating at 7pm and begin eating at 11am). During this fasting window you drink water, black coffee, and/or herbal teas. During your fast, the body burns through its calories consumed during your last meal and begins to burn fat.


At the end of the day, listen to your body and adopt something that is sustainable for you. And remember, that you still want to practice healthy eating even when you are fasting.

 

Can you talk about not all calories being created equal?



This is a great point. It is true that not all calories are created equal. Focusing on calories is important to an extent but it is also important to look at the macronutrient breakdown of the food. While it is true that 100 calories of fat, protein and carbohydrates are all the same in a thermodynamic sense (they all release the same amount of energy). You have to remember that within the human body, fats, protein and carbs all have different effects on satiety, metabolic rate, brain activity, blood sugar and hormones.


I always tell my clients to make sure that the majority of the calories they are taking in are not what I term “empty calories.” These are food or beverages that provide little or nutritional benefit and tend to have added sugars and trans fats.

 

What is the most important piece of nutrition advice you can give?

This is a hard one! But the one thing I always tell my clients who are starting out on their journey of healthy eating is to find BALANCE.


Balance means feeling comfortable consuming a wide variety of foods from all food groups. There is no need to cut anything out – unless instructed by a doctor.

Balance means that you eat for both pleasure and hunger. Both are important! Eating for hunger nourishes your body, ignoring hunger cues is a dangerous habit! Eating for pleasure is exactly that – PLEASURE! Sometimes we just need to eat food because it makes us happy.


Finally, balance means avoiding diets which normally employ some type of restriction. This can be so mentally unhealthy. No food or macronutrient is BAD. They each serve a unique purpose … whether that be to fuel our body or just make us happy.

 

How often should I do cardio?

This is a question I get asked all the time. First of all, I am of the mindset that exercise needs to be enjoyable. If you don’t enjoy doing something – then don’t do it. Cardio doesn’t have to be what most people typically imagine: treadmills, ellipticals and stationary bikes.


High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is another option for those with busy schedules and/or those who get bored easily! HIIT is when you have high intensity intervals coupled with lower intensity, active rest. You can get in an extremely efficient and effective HIIT workout in 15-20 minutes.

Another option is to make your strength training your cardio as well. Similar to high intensity interval training, a protocol called BodyByScience involves a very short, very intense, 1 set to failure resistance training protocol. A typical session lasts 10-20 minutes, and typically involves 3-5 exercises (seated row, leg press, lat pulldown, chest press and shoulder press). That’s it. You want constant muscular tension, and you aim for a super slow pace (10 seconds to complete a rep). If you’re interested in learning more about this type of training click here to visit Dr. Doug McGuff’s website. He is the leading expert in high intensity weight training. However, like I said, exercise should be enjoyable. Don’t force yourself to do something that doesn’t bring you joy. You want to create sustainable habits!

 

Why do men lose weight faster than women?

Many of the reasons that predispose men to lose weight faster than women are physiological; meaning they are out of our control. These reasons include:

  • Men tend to have more muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even when at rest.

  • Women are more predisposed to store fat due to our estrogen levels. Estrogen works to keep fat on a woman’s body so that it’s easier to get pregnant.

  • Men’s bodies tend to respond quicker to exercise, while women’s bodies can actually go into starvation mode, slowing down the metabolism to hang onto more fat.

At the end of the day, try not to compare yourself to others, male or female! We’re all on our own journey.

 

How can I truly know what is the best weight for me? There are so many different metrics.

How much you should weigh will depend on a variety of factors including: your body composition, and lifestyle, as well as types and amounts of food consumed. At the end of the day, no metric can take into consideration all these factors and therefore no metric can be 100% accurate. Instead, I say focus on a healthy lifestyle with healthy habits. If you focus on those you won’t have to worry about being overweight or underweight. Focus on how YOU FEEL. The number on the scale only tells a part of the story.

 

What is the best time to workout?

Another very popular question – but truthfully there is no “best” time to workout. At the end of the day, the best time to work out is the time of day that works best for YOU, and your life. Something that you are able to sustain. On that note, here are some things to consider when making your decision.

Morning Workouts

  • Tend to require a longer warm-up as we’ve been sleeping all night.

  • A nutritious dinner the night before.

  • A good, restful sleep.

  • Allows you to get your workout out of the way. This makes it less likely that you will skip your workout.

  • Jump starts your metabolism for the day.

Night Workouts

  • Require you to properly fuel your body throughout the day.

  • Require you to make sure that social obligations don’t interfere. Working out at night can lead to a greater likelihood of skipping your workout.

  • Shorter warm up as you’ve been moving throughout the day.

  • Good outlet to blow off steam after a stressful workday.

  • But, like I said, find a time that works for you and your schedule.

Being consistent is the best recipe for success!

 

What are some healthy breakfast ideas?

When it comes to breakfast you want to prioritize two things: protein and complex (slower digesting) carbohydrates to keep you fuller, for longer.

Some of my quick and easy breakfast suggestions are things like:

  • Oatmeal with fruit

  • Scrambled eggs with ½ a bagel and smoked salmon

  • Protein smoothie and peanut butter toast

  • Overnight oats.

 

Feel free to pop on over to my Instagram @Alexandralynnfit for more recipes! I hope you found some answers to your most burning health and fitness questions! What other questions do you have? Comment below and let me know.

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