When trying to "lose weight" or "drop fat" or whatever term you want to use, Carbs are the first thing we demonise and cut out or limit. There's evidence to show benefits from a low carbohydrate lifestyle, but wouldn't we best off knowing how many we need per day?
Think of Carbs as fuel... petrol/diesel, whatever floats your boat. If you're sedentary and do very little exercise, the chances are you don't need that many carbs, just like a car, if it goes nowhere then there's no point in keeping putting fuel in.
On the other hand, if you're active, use the gym a lot, go for walks, go jogging, cycling etc. then yes there's an argument for consuming more.
What happens when we consume carbs?
So you're sat on the sofa watching Netflix on a Tuesday night and you eat a bowl of pasta, 6 Jaffa cakes, some lovely Edinburgh shortbread and a banana. What will happen to it? Well, them carbs are going to be swimming round your blood pretty quickly, and this is where Insulin gets involved. What insulin does with these carbs is dependent on your activity levels. If you've trained and need refuelling, then the chances are they'll be transported into muscle cells ready to go again. If you haven't trained or the muscles are full, then Insulin will shove them carbs in to fat cells.
One thing we monitor closely on the 12 week plan is carb intake, making sure its enough but not too much, and also making wiser choices.
3 things overheard in the gym...
"How many reps should I do? 6? 10?"
"Light weight, lots of reps!"
"8-12 reps will help you build muscle"
The truth is.... unless that last repetition of each set is really challenging you then you're not working hard enough!
When someone says "Do 5 reps" that doesn't mean just do 5 aimless reps and then stop, it means that 5th rep should be hard and you couldn't manage a 6th!
If you're looking to increase your strength, then yes working with a weight where you can only do 4-5 reps is a good place to start. I'm a big fan of 5x5 (5 sets of 5 reps), old school but highly effective.
If you're looking to add muscle (called "hypertrophy") then yes, increase these reps, sets of 8, maybe 10 or 12, adding lots of volume to the session with 4-5 sets and 3-4 different exercises.
"but what about toning?" - i'll write a post on this, keep an eye out...
We all jump on the scales from time to time, some more than others, but please do not get obsessed with it! For most, checking now and then is piece of mind you're not over-doing things, but when people are actively trying to get leaner, its the first thing they turn to when checking their progress. Some clients I've had check it every day! No! No! No!
Do the scales weigh just fat? or all the other things in your body too? What about that pint of water you just had, that'll weigh something! What about all the food in your digestive system? We've all had a big Sunday roast, potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, a desert etc and then jumped on the scales and wow we've put on 3-4 pounds. Is that realistic? Nope!
One thing people don't realise is that when we eat carbohydrate, we store it for muscle energy (called glycogen), and for every gram, we store 3-4g of water with it. All this weighs, so don't be demotivated by the scales, check once a week at the same time, first thing in a morning after you've been to the toilet, and keep things reliable. The mirror is always the best measure, take pictures throughout, people will notice this, not a number that only you see!
Women: Lift some weights!
There is this huge misconception that if women start weight-training at the gym then they'll develop loads of muscle and become "bulky" or "big".
This, I think, comes from the image of males hitting the weights hard and developing muscle. The truth is, guys have a hell of a lot more testosterone and growth hormone, therefore find it easier to build muscle. I can't tell you enough how much I recommend women to pick some weights up and begin changing their body composition. Most women seem to stick to the treadmill, bike, cross-trainer etc. and of course there are huge benefits to aerobic training, but these benefits can also be accomplished by hitting the weights, whilst also improving the shape of your body through small increases in muscle.
Included in my 12 week plan is a range of weight training sessions...
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