Plyometrics are great for cardio, toning and fat loss here, we take a look at how the humble plyometric box can be a killer workout session.

The benefits of plyometric exercises  - Women's Health and Fitness Magazine

“The plyo box has been popular among athletes and hard-core fitness enthusiasts for a while now, but has become more mainstream since the introduction of CrossFit,” says elite trainer of over 15 years Matthew Strickland.

“They are great for cardio-based and high-intensity training, but can also be used for rehabilitative purposes and for evening out physique imbalances.Plyometric boxes and aerobic steps come in a range of heights and sizes to adhere to varying fitness levels and exercise goals. While fixed-height boxes are available and usually come in sets of three to four, try opting for a sturdy, adjustable step if you are tight on space. And if you aren’t confident in the jumps, we say go for foam rather than metal or wood versions: a lot less chance of skinned shins.

For cardio/fat loss: Plyometric training involves using explosive bodyweight movements to exert maximum force in the shortest amount of time – making them the perfect fat-burning tool. Explosive movements also mean power and strength, especially in the lower body, can be achieved. Again, keep rest periods short and repetitions as high as possible – although given their taxing nature, sessions shouldn’t go much longer then 30 to 45 minutes. Tip: “When performing box jumps, start in a quarter squat and hinge from the hips to engage the hamstrings and glutes,” says Strickland. “Landings on the box should be soft to help avoid injury.”

For toning: While plyometric training is renowned for explosive bodyweight movements, Strickland says that there are a range of toning exercises that can be performed simultaneously. “Think anything from single-leg step-ups to incline push-ups using the box,” he says. “The varied range will target muscles you never even knew you had.”

“With proper technique, kettlebells can be used to train your entire body for both toning and fat-burning goals,” says Strickland. “I run a half-hour class and never repeat the same exercise, so boredom is never an issue.”

Compound movements such as the kettlebell swing, in which the center of gravity shifts, work the entire body while moves native to dumbbell workouts often isolate one or two muscle groups.

“Kettlebells, in my experience, allow people to get deeper into the movements than say a dumbbell,” says Strickland.

For toning:  Kettlebells of varying weights can be used to load isolated muscle groups. When setting up your home gym, opt for a set of light, medium and heavy kettlebells to ensure everything from shoulders to legs can be worked. Strickland’s favorite for a killer lower-body toning session?Image result for kettlebell workout “I often work some of my favorite kettlebell exercises into a circuit to ensure the muscles are exhausted while also providing a killer cardio and fat-burning workout,” he says. “Try a burpee to kettlebell deadlift to kettlebell upright row. Say no more, this will push your whole body to its limits, and then some.”

For fat loss/cardio: Fat loss and cardio fitness are best achieved through circuit-style training, with limited rest and higher repetitions to ensure the heart rate is elevated for long periods. Strickland suggests high-intensity interval work, with exercises performed for 45 seconds at max reps followed by a short 15-second rest. Sessions should last for about 20 to 30 minutes all up. “Work from the larger muscle to smallest, allowing you to achieve a wider variety of movements. It also means the most taxing, compound movements are completed first,” says Strickland.

SOURCE: WOMEN’S HEALTH AND FITNESS MAGAZINE

Ever wondered what “eating clean” or “going on a cleanse” really means?

Spend enough time talking about or searching for nutrition info online these days, and you’ll quickly notice that it seems like everyone is an expert. Between blogs, social media, online message boards, and good old-fashioned conversations with friends, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by competing opinions about what you should eat, how to eat it, and what to avoid. And all these opinions seem to be backed by some popular diet or book with a catchy title!

To make matters even more confusing, flying around in the middle of this dialogue are plenty of buzzwords that people toss around willy-nilly without fully understanding what they mean—if, in fact, they mean anything.

Well, it’s time to shoot some flies and clear the air. Before you start a new diet or dive into your next big nutrition conversation, learn the truth behind common nutrition buzzwords, and determine for yourself if they apply to your goals!

Buzzword 1: “Clean Eating”

Perhaps one of the most popular terms in the fitness and nutrition industry is “clean eating,” but what exactly does “clean” mean? Ask five people at your gym to define clean eating, and you’ll inevitably get five different responses.null

In most cases, clean eating refers to eating as much whole, unprocessed food as possible, while limiting the amount of processed foods in your diet. Rather than focusing efforts on the number of calories you consume in a day, the focus is shifted to consuming food items that meet certain requirements—only unprocessed foods that contain no artificial ingredients, or eating foods that have zero added sugar, for example.

Clean eating has evolved into a seemingly cryptic, pie-in-the-sky way of eating within the fitness community. It’s a diet of restriction that fails to honor personal food preferences, making it an unrealistic way of eating. While clean eating—as defined in this way—may work for a select few, educating yourself on healthier food options without placing restrictions on your diet is a much more realistic way of eating. Plus, leaving out certain processed foods such as milk and juices fortified with calcium and vitamin D  or Canned fruit (packed in water) and precut veggies—both of which are technically considered “processed” could cause you to miss out on important nutrients that keep your body in optimal health.

Buzzword 2: “Detox”

Next time you’re in the check-out line at the grocery store, take a look at the covers of popular fitness magazines. Chances are you’ll see some advertisement or article about a short-term detox cleanse, usually promising to miraculously bolster your health and wellness in a matter of days by “ridding your body of toxins.”

nullLet’s think about this for a minute. What toxins are folks who begin a detox diet trying to flush out of their system? Are there specific chemicals they’re trying to “clean out” by restricting themselves to a diet of tea and lemon water? The truth is, most individuals who go on a detox plan can’t seem to name what specific toxins they’re hoping to eradicate from their body in the first place.

Many cleanses and detox diets entail increasing fluids and limiting food choices to mostly fruits and vegetables. Since a detox diet typically involves calorie restriction, acute weight loss is often experienced. Additionally, an increase in fiber intake via increased fruit and vegetable consumption, coupled with the increase in fluids, may result in an increase in the frequency of your trips to the bathroom.

With that being said, the temporary weight loss individuals may experience after following a “detox diet” is mistaken as a perceived health benefit. It’s usually just the result of short-term calorie restriction, not fewer “toxins.”

In lieu of putting your body through all of this, shift your focus to making sustainable nutritious choices such as including more fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins into your diet so you can lose weight—and keep it off!—for the long haul.

Buzzword 3: “Low-Glycemic”

The glycemic index (GI) was originally developed for the treatment of diabetes. The GI ranks carbohydrate foods on a scale of 1-100 based on how quickly they affect blood sugar levels when consumed in isolation. Foods such as white potatoes and watermelon have a higher GI score, whereas slower-digesting carbohydrates like oatmeal and legumes have a lower GI score.

A common understanding in the fitness industry is that low-glycemic foods are “better” for you than high-glycemic foods because of the less dramatic insulin response. There are countless nutrition books and theories on controlling insulin response by only eating low-glycemic carbohydrate foods. Insulin has become one of the most feared hormones in the fitness industry.null

What most individuals don’t realize is that the glycemic index measures the insulin response of carbohydrates foods on a completely empty stomach in an isolated state. For example, white rice has a GI score of around 70. How often would you eat white rice, by itself, on an empty stomach? Pair that rice with a 4-ounce chicken breast and 1/2 cup green beans sautéed in a tablespoon of olive oil, and you drastically alter the entire glycemic response within that meal. For these reasons, the real-life application of the glycemic index is extremely limited.

Using the glycemic index to select which carbohydrate foods you chose to eat has limited practicality and application, which makes this a buzz phrase to watch out for. However, the glycemic index may be useful for individuals with diabetes, due to impairments in insulin production and metabolism.

Buzzword 4: “IIFYM”

IIFYM stands for “if it fits your macros,” an eating style that has gained a tremendous amount of attention over the past couple of years (thanks in large part to social media). IIFYM, also known as flexible dieting, is a buzz phrase that actually includes a great deal of practicality and sensibility—but it has to be applied appropriately.

Put simply, IIFYM is a system of tracking calories based on daily calorie, fat, protein, and carbohydrate targets. It allows you to take ownership of your daily food choices and overall dietary pattern and enables you to eat a diverse diet without restricting any specific foods.

nullWhen applied appropriately, IIFYM is a scientifically sound system of tracking your nutrition. Many folks, however, have mistaken IIFYM for an excuse to eat junk food such as donuts, pizza, and ice cream without any regard for nutrient density or food quality. Scan your social media feed and you will likely see your IIFYM friends sharing pictures of pies and ice cream with a hashtag endorsing IIFYM or flexible dieting. What you fail to see are the posts of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains, and lean protein sources that probably make up the majority of those people’s diets.

The fact is, even if you follow IIFYM, you have to eat under a certain caloric target and meet your specific macro targets, so you don’t get a license to eat whatever you want all the time. You still have to follow a sort of 80/20 rule. In other words, 80 percent of your diet should be based on wholesome foods, while 20 percent of your diet could be used for favorite treats and indulgences.

Remember, the best diet to be on is one you can stay on, so IIFYM may be a great choice for you—but it’s not a free pass to eat whatever you want, despite what some people may have you believe on social media.

SOURCE: BODYBUILDING.COM

Spicy quinoa lettuce cups - Women's Health and Fitness magazine

Looking for healthy lunch ideas? Try these yummy spicy quinoa lettuce cups by our January 2017 cover model, Tiffiny Hall.

Ingredients (Serves 2 // Prep: 10 min // Cook: 30 min)

  • ¾ cup mixed quinoa
  • 1 ¾ cup vegetable stock
  • 125g tin four bean mix, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • ¼ avocado
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 4 tomatoes, cut into 1 cm dice
  • ¼ bunch coriander, finely chopped
  • 4 large cos lettuce leaves

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

2. Place quinoa into a saucepan with 1 ¾ cup vegetable stock, simmer for 15 minutes or until cooked through. Drain quinoa and spread onto a baking tray. 

3. To the baking tray, add bean mix, spices and garlic and mix through. Place into the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until quinoa is slightly crunchy. 

4. Meanwhile, mash avocado and lemon juice together and set aside. 

5. Remove quinoa from oven, toss tomato and coriander through quinoa and bean mix.

6. Spoon quinoa mix into lettuce leaves and dollop on avocado to serve. 

SOURCE: WOMEN’S HEALTH & FITNESS MAGAZINE

Anyone who’s tried to lose weight knows that good nutrition matters a lot—even more than your exercise routine. As the authors of a recent editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine wrote, “You cannot outrun a bad diet.” In other words, even a calorie-torching fitness plan needs to go hand-in-hand with healthy eating or you won’t see the results you want.

But that doesn’t mean you have to restrict yourself to bland “diet” foods. We asked seven women who’ve lost 50 pounds or more to share their go-to healthy meals, and the results were surprisingly appetizing—even bacon and chocolate make a cameo! Here are the foods that helped these women find long-term success.

Jodi Friedman

JODI FRIEDMAN

Jodi, 44, had struggled with her weight due to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and insulin resistance. But after a nutritionist helped her devise a low-carb, high-protein eating plan, she lost 70 pounds and is now training for a half marathon. “It’s important to find a nutritionist who understands your health issues and supports your needs,” she says.

A typical day’s meals:

  • Breakfast: a protein bar with 20 grams of protein or more, plus a banana on workout days
  • Lunch: tuna salad with a side salad of mixed greens and tomatoes with aged balsamic vinegar
  • Snack: cucumber slices with a tablespoon of hummus
  • Dinner: salmon or crockpot chicken with a side of spinach or avocado
  • Dessert: kid-sized cup of frozen yogurt

Jennifer Finney

JENNIFER FINNEY

Motivated by a warning from her husband’s doctor, Jennifer, 41, and her hubby overhauled their eating habits together. “We went from a diet of processed foods, fast food, and dining out two or three times a week to a whole-food, plant-based diet,” she says. “We went all-in from day one, and the weight started melting off.” To date, she’s lost 80 pounds and now works as an online health and fitness coach.

  • Breakfast: rolled oats with almond milk, peanut butter, and pure maple syrup
  • Post-workout snack: green smoothie with spinach and frozen fruit
  • Lunch: kale salad with hummus and rice vinegar, topped with fresh cucumbers, red peppers, and chickpeas or lentils
  • Afternoon snack: apples with peanut butter
  • Dinner: a Pad-Thai inspired dish using spaghetti squash instead of pasta
  • After-dinner snack: a piece of fruit

Petrina Hamm

PETRINA HAMM

Petrina, 43, started the Atkins diet because her sister was interested in the plan. “She asked me to do it with her for support,” she says. Petrina eventually modified her diet for more balance, and has lost a total of 100 pounds. She says the key has been “taking it one day at a time. Too many people devote too much focus to the end game.”

A typical day’s meals:

  • Breakfast: a healthy “cheese Danish”—made by mixing egg with cream cheese, liquid Splenda, and a dash of cinnamon—along with bacon or sausage
  • Lunch: salad with full-fat blue cheese dressing, bacon bits, and diced chicken
  • Dinner: steak with steamed broccoli and butter
  • Snack: homemade sugar-free peanut butter cup (made with baking chocolate, butter, liquid Splenda, and peanut butter)

Whitney Herrington

WHITNEY HERRINGTON

The approach of a milestone birthday motivated Whitney, 29, to get serious about her eating habits. “I had been overweight my whole life, and I was determined not to go into my thirties fat!” she says. By following a low-carb, high-protein diet—with some extra carbs added in on workout days—she’s lost 65 pounds so far.

A typical day’s meals:

  • Breakfast: fruit smoothie with some spinach or kale and a scoop of protein powder
  • Snack: granola bar
  • Lunch: jerk chicken with homemade cauliflower rice
  • Dinner: baked chicken with broccoli and brown rice
  • Snack: ¼ cup of peanuts or cashews

Erica House

ERICA HOUSE

Erica, 32, found that a little patience goes a long way. She lost 60 pounds over the course of two years by cutting out fast food, sugar, and liquid calories like soda and alcohol.”The weight came off slowly, but it’s stayed off,” she says. “I went from being obese, binge drinking, and chain smoking to a three-time marathoner, yoga instructor, and online personal trainer.”

A typical day’s meals:

  • Breakfast: zucchini oatmeal
  • Snack: fresh fruit
  • Lunch: homemade burrito bowl
  • Snack: a scoop of peanut butter
  • Dinner: protein smoothie made with a frozen banana, a cup of spinach, chocolate whey powder, almond milk, ice, and a touch of honey

Anne Jongleux

ANNE JONGLEUX

Anne, 56, tried a few tactics before finding what worked best for her. She started by weighing foods and counting calories: “That was great for helping me readjust my ideas of portion size, but impractical for a daily lifestyle,” she says. Last year she went on an elimination diet to identify food intolerances. Now she follows a “mostly Paleo” plan of lean proteins, healthy fats, and fresh produce, and she’s lost a total of 80 pounds.

A typical day’s meals:

  • Pre-workout breakfast: coffee and a banana or two dates covered in coconut
  • Post-workout breakfast: coffee, a bowl of fruit, and two poached eggs
  • Lunch: an apple with two tablespoons of almond butter and a few sticks of celery
  • Snack: a stalk of bok choy and a carrot
  • Dinner: Cobb salad with a few tweaks (turkey instead of ham and bacon; hold the cheese and croutons; oil and vinegar on the side)
  • Snack: cucumber slices or pickles

Christian Ohonba

CHRISTIAN OHONBA

Christian, 30, says she stopped using food as a reward and started thinking of it as fuel for her goals. “I live with the philosophy that weight loss sparks greatness in all areas of life,” she says. Though she was scared to look at a scale before starting her weight loss journey, she estimates she’s lost around 70 pounds by tracking calories and journaling her eating habits.

A typical day’s meals:

  • Breakfast: salmon and potato hash
  • Snack: pineapple dairy-free yogurt
  • Lunch: burrito with ground turkey, black beans, and bell peppers
  • Snack: tuna packet
  • Dinner: steak with broccoli

SOURCE: WOMEN’S HEALTH MAGAZINE

Image result for waist trainer

Waist trainers are HOT these days! With so many celebs jumping on board the craze, waist training has taken a front seat all over social media and TV.

Now, if you know me, you know that I am against waist training. As a trainer,  I am a BIG advocate for using science-backed methods like strength training and nutrition to cinch the waist.

With that said and after many of months of hearing about waist trainers,  I’ve decided it’s time to demystify the hype around these things!

The Truth About Waist Trainers: What Are They?

Waist trainers are essentially girdles made of fabric worn around the torso for long periods of time (up to 24 hours of each day). Exactly as their name implies they are meant to “train” your waist so it “shrinks and reshapes”. The idea is to pull the waist trainer in every few days in hopes of reshaping your waist into a smaller version of it. Waist trainers are typically made of heavy fabric or leather… some come with laces that are pulled in tighter every few days.

These days, you cannot scroll through your social media without seeing at least one post about “waist trainers”.  Thanks to celebrity endorsements, waist trainers have become increasingly popular and trendy!

What’s The Hype And Is It Too Good To Be True?

Waist trainers promise to “cinch the waist”, give you an “hourglass figure”, “shrink your waistline” and get rid of belly fat… all without the hard work of exercising or dieting! WOAH!!! Sounds AWESOME right? Wear a fabric thing around your waist real tight and get a flat stomach? Sign us up! I am SOLD!

truth about waist trainers

The truth is waist training can permanently shift your organs!

Unfortunately, the hype around these products are very much, well, hyped up and too good to be true! Let me tell you, it’s next to IMPOSSIBLE to shrink or reshape your waist WITHOUT a proper nutrition and exercise program! Or without some sort of surgical intervention! Why? Because the science simply does not add up!

The human body has its own natural girdle… and you guessed it, it’s called MUSCLE! Our organs are surrounded by tissue, including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominis, the internal and external obliques, erector spinae and lumbar muscles in the lower back. There are lots of hard muscles at work keeping us upright and everything together!

It just so happens that we also have another type of tissue called fat covering the muscles. You cannot change the shape of your torso or waist simply by wearing a piece of fabric around it. Nor can you reduce the amount of fat cells or fat tissue in your body by wearing a piece of very tight fabric. Science just doesn’t work that way!  In fact wearing such things can be dangerous as it suffocates your organs and can cause heat stroke, and a permanent unhealthy shift in your organs. In order to shrink your fat cells, you need to build lean tissue to stimulate your metabolism and adapt a healthy eating regimen that reduces fat tissue!

Wearing waist trainers also undermines your muscles as you inherently start relying on it to keep your core engaged as opposed to properly engaging your abdominal muscles when working.

Is There A HEALTHY Way To Cinch Your Waist?

My best advice for those of you looking to cinch in your waist is to start exercising using a solid plan (like the Elite Fitness Pros programs) and eat well! Learn how to properly engage your core muscles! Adapt a healthy nutrition plan and last but not least be CONSISTENT! It’s that or permanent surgical intervention like removing two ribs from torso!

Simply put, forget the hype around waist trainers! Choose to hit the gym with a good workout program and eat well … soon enough you WILL see a smaller waist!

Weekend fruit toast recipe - Women's Health and Fitness Magazine

Kick-start your day with this delicious breakfast recipe by January 2017 cover model Tiffiny Hall. 

Ingredients (Serves 2 // Prep: 5 min // Cook: 2 min)

  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 100g fresh ricotta
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 2 slices wholegrain (or gluten-free) bread
  • 1 banana, thinly sliced
  • ⅓ punnet strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup blueberries

Method

1. In a small bowl, combine tahini, honey, and water together until smooth and set aside.

2. Combine the ricotta, cinnamon and chia seeds to form a creamy spread.

3. Toast wholegrain bread in toaster for 1–2 minutes or until golden.

4. Lay toast flat, spread with ricotta mix then top with fresh fruit. Drizzle tahini sauce over the top and serve.

SOURCE: WOMEN,S HEALTH & FITNESS MAGAZINE

With warm weather approaching, the call for an effective shred has never been stronger. Use these 6 tips to ensure you’re six-pack-ready for summer!

 

Winter’s winding down, and everyone’s favorite seasonal superpower—the ability to hide excess pounds under a warm sweater—is fading fast. In fact, the summer sun will be high in the sky sooner than you might think, which means shirtless weather is coming in hot. Don’t get caught unprepared! If you want to reveal a shredded six-pack come summer, now’s the time to plan and prioritize your weight-loss goals

Here are six of my tried-and-true get-lean strategies to help you prepare to bare all when the sun comes out to stay.

1. Combine Cardio Styles

Most people default exclusively to high-intensity interval training, or HIIT cardio when it comes to getting lean. After all, the intense metabolic demand HIIT places on your body is like nothing else, and when done correctly, can take several days to recover from. What that means for you is a heightened calorie-burn both during the workout and as you recover.

I like to do my HIIT in short, sharp bursts, performing 30-second sprints on the treadmill or rowing machine, followed by 30 seconds of rest, for 10-15 rounds. But I don’t stop there. I actually follow my HIIT with 15-20 minutes of low-intensity cardio to help remove metabolic byproducts that accumulate during high-intensity exercise, which allows my muscles to recover quicker and gets me ready to train all over again.

This approach combines HIIT’s fat-burning ability with the recuperative benefits of low-intensity cardio, basically giving you the best of both worlds. I even like to add a little extra steady-state (because it doesn’t demand much in terms of recovery) when I want to burn even more calories.

2. Balance Your Reps And Volume

A lot of people assume that in order to get shredded, you need to lift more reps per set and really “feel the burn,” but this isn’t necessarily true. Your nutrition and cardio should do the shredding for you, and your lifts should work to maintain your muscle mass and strength. To that end, I stay in the range of 6-8 reps for all my lifts when getting lean. This allows me to keep my muscles full and strong, potentially add a bit of new size, and hit an ideal short-term hormone release.

But just because I use relatively low reps does not mean I skimp on volume! I do 4-5 sets of each exercise rather than the standard 3-4, which increases the overall time under tension for each body part, burns more calories, and contributes to the overall fat loss. I also front-load my workouts with at least two compound movements, which require a lot of energy. Once I’m depleted, I finish up with a few isolation movements.

3. Advance Your Training

When it comes to shredding, I love implementing giant sets—basically, circuits for one body part or multiple exercises performed back to back—especially for my legs, which respond well to high-rep, high-volume work.

I usually hit two compound exercises in a row, such as squats and leg press, then hit my legs immediately afterward with isolation exercises like leg extensions and curls. This forces my muscles to work 3-4 times as hard and 3-4 times as long per set compared with a straight-set format.

The increased time under tension caused by giant sets leads to more muscular exhaustion, a greater energy demand, and more fat burned post-workout as those muscles try to recover.

I’m also a huge fan of forced reps—when your partner helps you lift beyond what you could lift alone—for leaning out. Forced reps push you further than you would normally go on your own, driving adaptation and producing an additional calorie burn that a straight set does not provide.

I recommend choosing a weight where you fail after about 6-8 reps. Once you feel like you can’t push out even one more rep, have a partner help you squeeze out 3-5 forced reps with the same weight. I guarantee you’ll push yourself to limits you never thought possible!

If you’re training solo, try using the double-rep method (DRM) for cutting. Set yourself up with a weight at which you fail at 8 reps. Do a set of 8 with that weight, rest for 5-8 seconds, and then do another 16 reps broken down into several “mini sets.”

Use the rest-pause technique—performing as many reps as you can, and then taking short, 15-second rests—to get through that second double set.

DRM training really pushes the envelope of both your pain threshold and your muscular endurance. Oh, and if you haven’t noticed the theme yet, it also helps you torch more calories!

4. Manipulate Your Macros

One of my favorite quotes is “what gets measured, gets managed.” Carefully planned nutrition is everything when trying to cut, and knowing how to manipulate your macronutrients—protein, carbs, and fat—is essential when building your get-lean plan.

Most people choose to cut carbs in order to get lean, but this is where I differ. I like to keep my carb intake relatively steady year-round to keep my energy high, which allows me to work out harder. To trim some fat from my body, I simply trim some fat from my diet.

Usually, my fat intake is about a half a gram per pound of body weight, which comes out to about 90 grams of fat daily for me. As I get closer to my goal date, or the date on which I want to look my best, I taper this number until it reaches about 40 grams a day.

This simple change gives me just enough of a caloric deficit to burn fat while still leaving me with enough calories from dietary fat to power my essential bodily functions. To compensate for this deficit, I also typically bump my protein up from 1.3-1.5 grams per pound of body weight, which keeps my hunger and cravings at bay and prevents catabolism, or muscle breakdown.

5. Keep Records

If you don’t know where you’ve been, how do you know where you’re going? I’m a bit of a data geek, so I love to keep detailed records of my calories and macronutrients from every diet and show prep I’ve ever done. This gives me plenty of information to compare and allows me to assess the best plan of action to meet my next goal based on my current condition.

When mapping out your plan, give yourself plenty of time to make adaptations. For example, I am usually not more than three weeks out from photo-shoot conditioning, but if I want to step it up and really get stage-ready peeled, I give myself 10-14 weeks. Nothing good comes from rushing the process.

No matter what your timeline, write down everything as you go through that process: what you ate, how it affected your physique, even if it did anything to your body’s level of detail or your overall mood. This way, next time you want to lean out, you’ll have an accurate and exact accounting of what worked and what didn’t.

6. Supplement Smart

Getting lean is no easy task, and supplementing your nutrition can help with cravings as well as energy levels. I love to have a protein shake with my oats after every tough workout to kick-start recovery, spur muscle growth, satisfy my sweet tooth, and help me stay full.

I also take a multivitamin with Omega 3 and 6 daily to ensure I get all my essential fatty acids and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that could be missing from my whole-food diet. And, when it comes to traveling, I always carry a protein bar to make it easy to sneak in meals, even when things get busy.

SOURCE: BODYBUILDING.COM

Want to maintain a flat stomach? These foods have fiber to banish the bloat, antioxidants to boost your abs routine’s effectiveness and protein to help maintain a healthy metabolism.

1. Cucumber 

Cucumber- - tummy-flattening foods - Women's Health & Fitness

Cooling and diuretic, cucumber is good to eat when your tummy feels like a tightened drum. It can help to relieve fluid retention and its fibre-rich skin is great for digestion.

Eggs - tummy-flattening foods - Women's Health & Fitness

2. Eggs

Being pretty close to a complete food, eggs contain numerous vitamins and minerals (primarily in the yolk). Go for omega-3 enriched. Only 1.5 grams saturated fat per egg, so they’re unjustly labeled a ‘bad’ food. Eggs have a low glycemic index and are very filling. Mitchell-Paterson recommends having an egg for a snack to curb the 3:30-itis and chocolate cravings.

3. BerriesBerries - tummy-flattening foods - Women's Health & Fitness

What do blackberries, blueberries, and acai berries all have in common? They all help you squeeze your way back into your skinny jeans. Studies have shown that people wanting to lose belly fat should opt for fruit that is blue or red color, such as cherries, red grapes and many types of berries. It is the chemical responsible for giving these fruits their color – anthocyanins – that help burn abdominal fat.

Almonds - tummy-flattening foods - Women's Health & Fitness4. Almonds

These delicious and versatile nuts contain filling protein and fibre, not to mention vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant. They’re also a good source of magnesium, a mineral your body requires to produce energy, build and maintain muscle tissue, and regulate blood sugar.

5. AvocadoAvocado - tummy-flattening foods - Women's Health & Fitness

Fiber-rich and provides many additional micronutrients including potassium, magnesium, folate and vitamin C.

Avocado oil has a very high smoke point and is, therefore, a great choice for cooking. It is quite expensive but this is definitely a case for quality over quantity. Use it sparingly and a little will go a long way.

Spinach - tummy-flattening foods - Women's Health & Fitness6. Spinach

Extremely rich in the antioxidants carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, which promote eye health, reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Lutein is also thought to play a role in preventing colon cancer.

Also a fabulous source of the better known carotenoid, beta-carotene, which, in addition to its antioxidant potential, can be converted to vitamin A in the body. Very good source of dietary fiber, vitamins C, E, K, and B6, and thiamin, riboflavin, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper and manganese. Good source of niacin and zinc

7. TurkeyTurkey - tummy-flattening foods - Women's Health & Fitness

A great source of protein that is low in both total and saturated fat. Turkey has high iron levels and is a good source of the vitamins B, B1, B6 and zinc, which have been found to keep blood cholesterol low, boost the immune system and regulate blood pressure

 

Yoghurt - tummy-flattening foods - Women's Health & Fitness

8. Yogurt

Provides a high dietary source of calcium and low GI carbohydrates. It is a good source of phosphorus and B group vitamins. Probiotic yogurts may also help with the digestive processes.

 

 

Salmon - tummy-flattening foods - Women's Health & Fitness

9. Oily fish

Oily fish such as salmon, trout and tuna are the best sources of omega-3 fats, which are crucial for optimal health. Oily fish is low in saturated fats and contain essential amino acids and are a good source of iodine, iron and zinc.

Water - tummy-flattening foods - Women's Health & Fitness

 

10. Water

While it’s not technically a food, a lack of water in your diet could be the one thing standing in your way of a flat tummy. Bloating is something that effects many women, and the problem is often worsened, sometimes even instigated, by a lack of fluids in the system. Drinking water will also help to flush toxins out of your system, curb hunger, improve digestive health and reduce fluid retention, all which help to leave your tummy looking flatter.

Apple cider vinegar - tummy flattening foods - IMAGE - Women's Health & Fitness

11. Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar in water is the best way to start your day. This bitter drink helps to stimulate the stomach’s digestive juices, to help with food digestion.

Try taking two teaspoons in water 10 minutes before breakfast.

Nut butter - tummy-flattening foods - IMAGE - Women's Health & Fitness

12. Nut butters and olive oil

Good fats will satisfy your hunger without bulking out your tummy. Bad bacteria feeds on unhealthy fats and sugars.

Try subbing butter and spreads with avocado, nuts, nut butter, olive oil and salmon spread across your day.

Green-smoothie- tummy-flattening foods - image - Women's Health & Fitness
13. Dark leafy greens

Leafy greens are rich in fiber and help keep things moving through the digestive system, but increasing fiber all at once can exacerbate bloating.

Try a green smoothie based on leafy greens for breakfast, salad with lunch and steamed greens with dinner. For full de-bloat points, add apple cider vinegar dressing: two parts oil (coconut, olive, rice bran), one part apple cider vinegar and one part sweetener (honey, maple, rice malt syrup)

Sauerkraut - Tummy flattening foods - IMAGE - Women's Health & Fitness

14. Sauerkraut

Fermented foods contain natural probiotics, which help to fight bad bacteria in your tummy and thus avert bloating.

Try adding sauerkraut to your tofu scramble, or serving it as a side to any main meal. Kefir, miso and cultured yogurt are other great options.

Garlic - tummy flattening foods - IMAGE - Women's Health & Fitness

15. Onions, leeks and garlic (prebiotic foods)

These guys feed the good bacteria already in your stomach. Try adding them to your morning scramble, lunchtime soup or dinner stir-fry.

Beat age related weight gain - IMAGE - Women's Health and Fitness magazine

Can you beat age-related weight gain? We asked the experts for their diet and exercise tips for women in their 30s, 40s and 50s.

What is the ‘middle age spread’?

The term ‘middle-age spread’ has been etched into aging lore, yet unflattering connotations ignore the naturalness of physiological change. Expecting to weigh the same at 30 as 18 is folly according to clinical psychologist Louise Adams from Treat Yourself Well.

“Our body weight at age 18 is for many of us the lightest we have ever been,” says Adams. “We may not have stopped growing at that point and may not have reached full maturity. Weight gain as we age is quite normal and body shape and size can change over our lifetime. Sticking to a weight from many years ago is unrealistic for the vast majority of us. It’s similar to remembering how your skin looked as a teenager and expecting the same in middle age.”

How to stay trim – despite your age!

Dr. Lavie encourages a paradigm shift from weight to fitness. “It’s much better to strive for fitness and be on the thicker side than to be thin and unfit,” he says. “Loss of fitness is a much stronger predictor of mortality than weight gain.”

He says the idea is to exercise 40 to 45 minutes a day, five to six days a week, with plenty of strength work.

“Fitness gurus will tell you that strength training becomes more vital the older one gets, and they are right, for it supports muscle mass like no other form of exercise and can help increase not only strength but also bone mass,” says Dr Lavie.

“In most people, muscle strength peaks in our 20s and then gradually decreases. Recent research suggests that women on average will lose muscle mass twice as fast as men the same age, which can make a huge difference in their ability to maintain an ideal weight.”

Another key point is to make sure your weight loss program is sustainable, even enjoyable.

“Exercise alone is rarely sufficient for sustained weight loss,” says weight loss expert and GP Dr Patricia Bishop. “It must be combined with dietary changes. If a healthy eating plan is combined with a healthy exercise program, a decrease in tummy size is usually apparent within two weeks.”

SOURCE: WOMENS HEALTH

What's Better For Weight Loss: Green Tea Or Green Coffee?

More than just a pick-me-up, your morning cup of tea or coffee may actually help your weight-loss efforts! But when it comes to fat loss, which one of these greens reigns supreme?

When it comes to losing fat, no magic pill or powder can replace consistent work in the gym and a clean diet. Your efforts will always trump anything a supplement can do. That said, there are a handful of ingredients that may help boost your metabolism and enhance your weight-loss efforts.

Two of those ingredients—green tea and green coffee—may already be part of your daily morning ritual, but they’re also sold in supplement form as green tea and green coffee extract. If fat loss is your goal, is one extract better than the other? It’s time to put these two green titans in a head-to-head battle for fat-loss supremacy!

Make Time For Tea

Green tea, which comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, has been recommended as a healthful drink for centuries with potential health benefits ranging from improved antioxidant status to cardiovascular support. Although multiple parts of the plant can be used, it’s the extract from the leaves that seems to offer the most health benefits, especially when it comes to weight loss.

The two components primarily responsible for green tea extract’s (GTE) health benefits are catechins, which provide the majority of antioxidants benefits, and caffeine, which enhances thermogenesis and fat metabolism.

When compared to a placebo and caffeine alone, GTE has been shown to significantly increase 24-hour energy expenditure. Over time, increasing the number of calories you burn both at rest and during exercise could lead to favorable changes in your body composition. Furthermore, there are multiple studies showing GTE’s ability to increase rates of fat oxidation (or fat burning) over a 24-hour period.

Long-term consumption of green tea extract has been shown to support modest weight loss, around 2-3 pounds, over a 12-week period.3 While GTE clearly won’t do all the work for you, research suggests that, when combined with exercise, it can support greater weight loss when compared to exercise alone.

Green Is The New Black

Green coffee extract (GCE), as the name implies, is extracted from unroasted green coffee beans. Its main active ingredients are compounds known as chlorogenic acids, which are thought to be responsible for its weight-loss effects.

While it’s not entirely clear how it works, chlorogenic acid may be able to promote fat loss by increasing the activity of PPAR-alpha—a gene involved in fatty-acid transport and oxidation—and reducing the creation of new fat cells through its antioxidant effects.

To date, there has been only one study to demonstrate a positive effect of GCE on weight loss in humans. A 2007 study published in the Journal of International Medical Research found that when GCE was added to coffee, participants lost (on average) almost 12 pounds over a 12-week period when combined with diet and exercise. This compared to only 3 pounds lost in the coffee-only group

While results from this study are promising, larger, better-controlled studies are needed to truly determine the effectiveness of GCE as a weight-loss tool.

Lean, Mean, Green

Green tea extract is the current winner in the battle of the bulge! For one, GTE has a higher caffeine component, and when it comes to ingredients that can have a significant impact on supporting your metabolism and help you burn more fat, caffeine is king. Second, the research on GTE far exceeds that of GC, making it a little more convincing that including GTE as part of your diet may potentially be beneficial to fat loss.

You may find some supplements that use a combination blend of green tea with green coffee extracts, but there is currently no research suggesting this is a more effective combination than either in isolation.

What To Watch Out For

The weight-loss benefits associated with green coffee and green tea extracts are greatly reduced when you mix the extracts with milk and sugar. Additionally, research suggests that protein consumption can have an inhibitory effect on their absorption.[Therefore, benefits of GTE and GCE may be maximized when consumed with water 2-3 hours before or after a meal.

Both of these substances typically contain caffeine and therefore may cause potential side effects associated with caffeine consumption, such as increased heart rate and digestive upset, but as long as you don’t guzzle the stuff, you should be in pretty good shape. Start with a low dose, see how your body handles it, and then make adjustments from there.

A Practical Approach For Use

GTE and GCE are most effective when caffeine resistance is minimized. If you’re already a coffee addict, the benefits of green tea extract and GCE supplements will likely be less effective.

While you may think you can get your daily dose of GTE just by sipping on some green tea, think again. An effective dose (about 600 milligrams) would require you to drink 8-10 cups of tea!  Supplements can definitely make things a little easier on you; just make sure you’re getting 30-60 percent EGCG—the active ingredient in green tea responsible for its fat-burning effects—in each serving.

Green coffee supplements are generally sold containing 40-50 percent chlorogenic acid by weight. In order to get the most effective dose of 120-300 milligrams of chlorogenic acid, you’ll want to look for a supplement containing 300-750 milligrams of green coffee extract.

SOURCE: BODYBUILDING.COM