Tag Archives: macronutrients

Hit a Plateau? Here’s WHY!

Do these sound familiar?

-Working out but not seeing any changes?

-Not getting anything out of your fitness regime?

-Not losing/gaining weight?

-Bored?

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If they do, you’ve probably hit a fitness plateau.

First off, YOU are NOT alone! We all struggle to find that ultimate BALANCE – eating well + training right to reap the max benefits.

I’ve hit a few plateaus throughout my fitness journey. But I also remember the times where I’ve seen significant changes. Those happened when there were drastic changes in my nutrition and workouts.

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Stress and shock will force your body to change. Remember the changes you saw when you first started working out? You probably saw HUGE changes in the first 3 months. That’s because you went from sedentary to active, the kind of shock that your body was not accustomed to. And then something amazing (or not) happened, ADAPTATION. Your body adapted to the stress (and your new lifestyle) and the only way to continue to see change is to WORK HARDER (new stress)!

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Aside from doing the “physical work”, your body is like a MACHINE that needs the RIGHT FUEL. There is SO much information out there about workouts and foods to eat.

BUT in order for any of those information to make sense to your body, you need to know YOU.


 Let’s talk metabolism

Metabolism is basically ALL of the chemical processes that goes on in your body to keep you alive.

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Anabolism – making stuff (cells, tissue, muscle etc)

Catabolism – breaking stuff (for energy)

Putting it into VERY simple terms, these two processes ultimately affect your fitness, physique and weight.

Understanding YOUR OWN body will help you beat plateaus. We need to tune into our own body ques.IMG_0897

The tricky bit is that we all have VERY DIFFERENT metabolic rates. Our health state (disease, illness, stress), sex, age, height and genes affect our metabolism. Environmental factors play a significant role too. Major ones would be nutrition and physical activity.

By making better lifestyle choices and changing a few bits here and there, you CAN workout and eat smart to achieve your ultimate GOALS.


Here are a few things to look out for:

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and Estimated Energy Requirement (EER)

The BMR is an estimate of the energy that you need in a day to maintain bodily functions (breathing, heart beat, body temp etc) while at rest. It is usually based on gender, age, weight and height.

With the BMR, you can now calculate your EER which adds in the activity element.

You can do all of that here.

Macro Breakdown

KNOW the macros in your food. They play a role in metabolism!

Macronutrients are the carbs, protein and fat in food. The Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) is 45-65% Carb, 20-35% Fat and 15-25% Protein of your total daily energy intake. However, you can alter these values based on your personal preference (low carb, high protein etc), performance goals etc.

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Work out what you eat in a day. It can be a lil tedious but it is worthwhile if you’ve hit a plateau. You can always take the stress out of nutrition and get a dietitian to work it ALL out for you, including EXACTLY what you should eat. 😉

Body Composition

It is good to get a sense of your body composition – percentage of body fat and muscle mass. Most fitness centres or the doctors would provide this service.

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Muscle weighs more than fat. You could be within the normal weight range for height but you could be carrying excess fat. Similarly, you may be on the heavier side of the weight spectrum but have more lean muscle mass.

This could be the reason you’re not seeing changes on the scale (if you’ve been working out and eating well). Try not to rely on the scale. Go by how you feel, look and how your clothes fit!

Change Your Routine

Following a strict routine may very well be the cause of your plateau. Mix it up and throw in new elements (new workouts, new foods etc). This will give your body a nice surprise and kick start your metabolism!

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Record Keeping

Sometimes, life can get to us and we can be UNAWARE of what we are doing or eating.

I AM ALL ABOUT RECORD KEEPING. I keep an e-record of my workouts, nutrition, emotions, work, finance and sleep. I find that it keeps me accountable of my actions, how I spend my time/money and helps with awareness and reflection.

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It can be overwhelming and I don’t expect you to go from zero to hero! Start with something small, like workouts and nutrition for 1 week. You can make it as brief or as detailed as you please.

Who knows, you might SURPRISE (or not) yourself at the end of the first week. And you probably would be able to spot what you need to change.

I have a food journal template. Drop me an email or leave a comment if you want one!


Perspective

Plateaus are not ALL bad.

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Lil reminder to REST!

Let’s look at it as a time to rest, reflect, change, and continue to challenge and push ourselves towards our goals!

IMG_5353Stay strong, I am here for you!

All the best!

Nutrient Rich vs Energy Rich

When reading food labels, calorie content is usually the first thing that we look at. Yes, calories in food are important if we’re trying to lose weight. The weight loss equation is simple (or is it?) –

energy in < energy out

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Technically speaking, ANY diet that creates an energy deficit will result in weight loss**. You can eat Maccas all day errrrday AND still lose weight if you are burning more than you consume. *I AM NOT SAYING YOU SHOULD DO THAT! LOL!*

**This is a very generalised statement which does not consider long term sustainability, health effects, metabolism and hormone levels. ALL of which WILL affect your weight… eventually**

BUT! (there’s always a BUT :P)

There are also other important things that we should look at, ie: NUTRIENT content and the overall QUALITY of the diet.


High in Nutrients

We should aim to eat foods that are high in NUTRIENTS. Whole fresh foods: fruits, vegetables, lean meat, legumes, whole grains, dairy, nuts and seeds are all rich in many different nutrients that are SUPER good for you. Nuts and seeds may be HIGH in energy (calories) but they provide the body with healthy fats and a unique mix of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

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I love munching on fruits and vegetables. They are rich in fiber and water content, making you feel fuller for longer. This means that you are less likely to reach for sugar loaded snacks.

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What you eat also affects your hormones. And that could affect how your body stores fat, hunger levels, mood and the development of chronic diseases. It is NOT as simple as simply looking at “calories”.


High in Energy

It is difficult to grasp WHAT exactly is “energy rich”. A simple concept would be to look at the caloric density. This takes into account the weight of the food. When comparing between foods, those that are higher in energy per 100g are considered more energy dense.

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This image PERFECTLY depicts HIGH energy nutrient POOR foods vs LOW energy nutrient RICH foods.

Let’s say the total energy you need in a day is 1600Kcal. You can eat either the left or the right AND still lose weight. But of course, the right would provide SO MUCH MORE nutrients and you can eat A LOT more in terms of amount. On the left, you’re basically consuming empty calories and would probably need another meal to feel full! Also, what you eat can affect your hormones and how you feel.

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Empty Calories

We’ve all heard of the term “empty calories”. What does this actually mean?

Empty calories refer to a food offering ENERGY with LITTLE to ZERO nutrient value.

Examples: fried foods (chips, fries), sugary drinks and foods (chocs, lollies, jelly), alcohol, high fat foods (cakes, muffins, baked goods, biscuits, ice cream, processed meats) etc.

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Not only are these foods nutrient poor, they are also usually highly processed. This could lead to inflammation and are usually associated with chronic diseases (heart diseases, diabetes, cancer, obesity).


Ultimate Balance

We all need ENERGY and NUTRIENTS to survive. Energy fuels the body and nutrients provide the body with the materials needed to maintain and regulate body processes.

We are all at different stages of life (childhood, youth, adults, elderly, sick, pregnant, athlete etc), plus the fact that we are all genetically unique, we have very different  nutrient requirements.

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The Australian Dietary Guidelines 2013

There is NO one-size fits all. To ensure that we are meeting the Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) for nutrients, aim to eat a wide variety of foods from the 5 food groups:

-Fruits: Vit C, potassium, vit A, fibre, folate, antioxidants etc

-Vegetables: Fibre, Vit A, C, potassium, iron, magnesium etc

-Grains: Carbs, protein, vit B1, iron, folate, fibre, iodine etc

-Lean meats and alternatives, legumes, nuts and seeds: Protein, iron, zinc, phosphate, copper, vitB12, vit E, omega 3 etc

-Dairy products: Milk, yoghurt, cheese: Protein, calcium, magnesium, vitB12, vit D, niacin, ribo, fats, potassium etc

Just remember, WHOLE FOODS over PROCESSED FOODS. And of course, a little treat here and there WILL NOT HURT! As long as you’re eating well MOST of the time. 🙂IMG_2705


The NEXT time you decide to try a new “diet”, think of these points:

-Am I cutting out FOOD GROUPS?

-Am I getting ALL of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals to function OPTIMALLY?

-Do I feel better?

-Will it provide enough ENERGY, PROTEIN and FATS?

-Will it be sustainable? What is the point if it isn’t?

-Will I be HAPPY?


  I hope you’re a little more informed and EMPOWERED to make YOUR own decisions about WHAT to EAT!

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Love Ya’ll! <3

Fuel and Running – Part 1

I cannot stress enough how important FUEL is to running. You may be the fastest runner, having the highest VO2 max and the most fatigue resistant leg muscles with many hours of training…… but you would still be rendered COMPLETELY useless if you fail to fuel enough for your metabolic system to provide sufficient energy. You can testify to this fact if you have trained hard for a marathon but hit the wall after passing the 30KM mark.

The BONK

The much dreaded bonk where your blood glucose level stoops too low due to insufficient fuel intake. It is the point where you have almost completely cleared your muscle and liver’s supply of glycogen. Your brain gets fuzzy and you JUST WANT TO STOP RUNNING!

Glycogen depletion, ATP exhaustion and the accumulation of lactate have all been suspects that contribute to fatigue.

The Metabolic Story

ATP – the body’s energy currency – is what your body uses to power up your active muscles (RUNNING!) and to carry out every other activity (Anabolism and Catabolism).

We derive energy from the food we eat, mainly carbohydrates, fats and proteins (lesser extent). The muscle tissue, liver and adipose tissue are where these macronutrients are stored until we need them during movement/exercise.

When you run, adrenaline is released to kick start the metabolic process. Ultimately, carbohydrates and fats are broken down in a step by step process (Thankfully, we need not know the process. We will leave it to the body to handle) to produce ATP.

No ATP –> No Energy –> No Muscle Contraction. You can see how fuel and the metabolic system are crucial limitations to running performance.

The Supply

You’ve got to supply your body with fuel to meet its demands. Providing enough fuel during training is just as important as fueling enough for race day.

It is not easy to get it right. You have to constantly experiment with yourself. Try new things and stick to what works for you.

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I had trouble meeting this balance 2 weeks ago at the RHB race. My training was as per usual except that I decided to increase the intensity on that particular week. I made the mistake of NOT compensating the extra work with extra fuel.

On race day, I felt completely drained. So much for doing extra work. All of it was lost because I didn’t have sufficient FUEL.

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Glycogen stored in the liver is responsible for maintaining blood glucose concentration within the acceptable range. Your brain relies heavily on glucose to function. The problem is that the active brain uses the stored glycogen in the liver when you sleep. A race first thing in the morning can wreak havoc if you fail to eat a proper breakfast to top off your already glycogen-depleted liver.

Well, let’s just say I didn’t fuel enough throughout the week AND on the morning of the race.

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I don’t know if I’m exaggerating but I just wanted to stop running after 8KM.  I could not brain the situation. I was feeling cold and clammy, pins and needles everywhere……it was just not my day. Thanks to Victor (fellow Puma Pacer) who ran up to me just to cheer me on! Not forgetting Kartini who yelled from across the road and Rashid who overtook me halfway. Nice to meet ya’ll! Every little bit of motivation counts! The cherry on the cake was when I was in 7-8th place when I arrived at the finish line (when I knew exactly how many people were in front of me). WHAT?!

Thankfully, the organizers checked it through with the timing chip and I managed 3rd place!

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The sister came in 4th in the 21KM category. 😀

More on fuel storage and how to maximize them for performance in my next post.

Till then, EAT WELL FOLKS!

Keep Running!