Intermittent fasting (IF) is a dietary practice that’s getting a lot of attention these days. In a nutshell, it involves fitting all your calories for the day into a condensed window of time and ‘fasting’ outside those hours.
Many intermittent fasters eat within an eight-hour window – for example, noon to 8pm – and fast for the remaining 16 hours of the day. The 8/16-hour ratio isn’t a hard and fast rule though; it can be adjusted to suit your needs and schedule.
Though intermittent fasting goes against what most of us have been told our whole lives (don’t skip breakfast!), there are several benefits to this way of eating. Our resident nutritionist Evian, who practices intermittent fasting himself, gave us the low down on what you need to know about IF – and how to do it safely.
5 Benefits of intermittent fasting
A TYPICAL IF DAY
For an example of what intermittent fasting looks like in practical terms, here’s a look at a typical day for Evian:
Wake up until noon: Fasting (no food; but drinking lots of water and coffee is ok too)
Noon: A big (healthy!) lunch
Sometime between 6 and 8pm: A big (healthy!) dinner
8pm onward: Fasting until bedtime (and overnight)
Evian is able to eat whatever and whenever he wants between noon and 8pm – there are no restrictions within the eating ‘window’ - though he tells us his meals are so filling he doesn’t usually need or want to.
And, to reiterate, the window can be adjusted – both in terms of length and timing. Many people find it easiest to skip breakfast and start their day with lunch (as Evian does) but you could stop eating at 6pm and begin again at 10am if that feels more doable and appropriate for you.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE BEGINNING
As is the case with most things, the transition into IF is the toughest part. Because your body is used to eating at certain times (ie: breakfast first thing), it releases a hormone (called Ghrelin) to signal hunger and make you want to eat at those times.
The first week or so is all about ignoring - and resetting - those signals. You WILL be hungry as you adjust – but Evian advises that you remind yourself that you’re not starving and that you’re hungry because your body is secreting Ghrelin. Within a couple of weeks your body will adjust to your new routine and you won't feel that same hunger.
During the transition – and beyond – you can consume coffee and other calorie-free drinks during your fasting windows. Drinking lots of water and the odd cup of coffee and/or tea is a good way to fend off hunger at the beginning.
If you want to try reducing your eating window to 8 hours but it feels like a big leap from where you are now, Evian recommends easing into it by decreasing your eating window gradually until you reach 8 hours (or the right number for you).
That said, it’s important to note that IF isn’t for everyone. Specifically, those with diabetes or hypoglycemia are not good candidates for this lifestyle because blood sugar levels can drop too low for their tolerance. And, as always, it’s best to speak with your health care provider before significantly altering your diet in any way.
A strong core is an absolutely essential part of a strong and healthy body.
Your abdominal muscles are critical to almost everything you do - and the benefits of building and maintaining their strength go far beyond appearances.
Below are five ways core strength is crucial to your health, mobility, strength and comfort.
While it’s important to build a strong core, developing rippling abs shouldn’t be your primary goal. True core conditioning comes from addressing trunk stability and mobility from the front, side and back of the trunk along with the hips and shoulders.
To get started on your improved core strength and stability, contact us for your free first workout.
Adrenal fatigue is a very real phenomenon that’s becoming increasingly common in our fast-paced stressful world. We recruited the help of resident nutritionist Evian Rodriguez to bring you this primer on what adrenal fatigue is, how to know if you have it – and what to do about it.
WHAT IS ADRENAL FATIGUE?
Your body has two mechanisms to deal with stress. For long-term/ongoing stresses (like an unstable relationship or chronic work stress), our bodies respond with a hormone called cortisol. For short-term/acute stress (like a big deadline, sudden conflict or threat to your physical safety), our body’s response is adrenaline.
Adrenal fatigue is caused by frequent adrenaline responses to acute stress. Too many ‘fight or flight’ responses without adequate time to recover leads to exhaustion of the glands and systems, which is what ‘adrenal fatigue’ refers too.
Modern life includes many more stressors than people once had, which is why we’re seeing an increase in this phenomenon.
what are the symptoms of adrenal fatigue?
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:
In turn, these symptoms will effect how you feel AND perform, which is why adrenal fatigue is a problem. (We have found that adrenal fatigue is often a factor for people who have trouble staying ‘on the wagon’ fitness-wise.)
how to fix & manage adrenal fatigue
If you think you might have adrenal fatigue, it's wise to speak to a health care practitioner about it for some customized advice. In the meantime, here are three things that will almost certainly help:
If you have any questions about adrenal fatigue – or want more tips for how to manage yours, Nielsen Fitness now offers virtual nutrition coaching. You can also check out our personal training intro package or reach out at any time to book a free first workout – anywhere in Toronto!
The ketogenic diet is a very popular way of eating right now – that can lead to significant weight loss for some. As a result, many clients have been asking us what it’s all about and if they should try it.
So we asked our resident nutritionist, Evian Rodriguez – and here’s what he had to say about keto, its benefits (and drawbacks), and whether you should try it.
WHAT IS KETO?
Your body normally uses glycogen for energy (stored sugars from your diet that’s stored in your liver and muscles). When you deprive your body of carbohydrates and these sugars are not present to use as energy, your body begins producing ketones as a form of energy.
To get into this state – which involves a period of often unpleasant transition – you need to consume a high-fat, moderate protein, and low-carbohydrate diet. To get and remain in ketosis, most people need to limit their carbohydrates to 50 grams per day.
IS KETO RIGHT FOR ME?
A ketogenic diet can be beneficial and effective for someone who needs to lose fat (if you’re trying to bulk up or put on weight, it’s definitely not recommended as carbohydrates are an essential part of healthy weight gain).
Evian always recommends well-rounded eating as a first step towards fat loss – cutting out processed carbs, sweets and other extra/empty calories and replacing them with nutritionally dense whole foods in appropriate amounts. But for those having trouble losing the last few pounds – or who have reached a fat-loss plateau – it can be an effective short-term measure to reach a specific goal.
THE BENEFITS OF KETO
In addition to fat loss, keto can result in other positive effects including better overall health, mental clarity, improved digestion and more energy. That said, in order to feel your best you’ll want to make sure you’re eating more than bacon and salami – more on that below.
A healthy approach to keto
On a ketogenic diet, most people end up eating a lot of animal products for their fat content. So the first thing you want to do is make sure you’re picking yours wisely. Get the best quality meat you can afford – grass fed beef is best – and limit processed meats. Also, focus on consuming healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil and avocado to help balance all that meat.
HOW WILL KETO AFFECT MY WORKOUTS?
Muscles need glycogen (the source of energy provided by carbohydrates) in order to perform at a high level. So those who do high-intensity/Olympic/very heavy weight lifting will likely notice a reduction in their performance.
But the average person doing in-home workouts will likely be just fine, once the transition to keto is complete…
BE PREPARED FOR THE KETO FLU!
Be warned that the transition into keto is not pleasant for most people. Expect three to seven days of withdrawal-like symptoms (like headache, tiredness and a foggy feeling) as your body and brain adjust to their new reality. This keto flu will take place every time you come out of and re-enter a ketogenic state (though the first one is usually the worst).
We hope you find this primer helpful! As always, if you have questions – or want to book a free first workout anywhere in Toronto – you know where to find us!
If you want to lose weight or get in shape but can’t seem to stay motivated, and regularly fall off the wagon, this one's for you.
If you're in this boat, you likely aren't tuned into what we like to call your "why", which is the deep-seeded reason for wanting to achieve a fitness goal. Here's what we mean and how to discover it.
Are you getting enough exercise each day? Statistics Canada reports that as little as 30 minutes of moderate intensity most days will reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
But we all know it can be hard to find time in our already busy schedules. So, if you absolutely can’t fit a workout in to a particular day, make it your goal to incorporate as much movement as possible into your normal routine. Over and above simple walking (which goes a long way!), here are six easy ways to do just that.
At this point in the holiday season, you’ve probably already done some indulging – and there’s likely more to come.
Although studies show that the average holiday weight gain is only a couple of pounds, they also show that most people never end up losing them – instead they accumulate year-after-year.
Here are a few ways to get through the festive season without packing on extra pounds.
With the holiday season in full swing, chances are you have one or two fitness enthusiasts--or someone hoping to become one--on your list. Here are a few of our favourite gift items for the at-home gym.
Habeeb Salloum is not only a special client who has made great advances since starting with us in May, but he is also an exceptional human being. He a World War II veteran, having served with the Canadian Air Force – and he is the recipient of the Governor General of Canada’s Meritorious Service Medal in 2018.
Habeeb is a true example of a what a positive attitude can achieve. At 94 years old he’s always striving for more – and is about to publish his latest (of many!) books.
When we started with a Habeeb he couldn’t do much more than get out of bed and sit in a chair (with assistance). He frequently felt dizzy and lacked balance and stability. Since May he has been exercising everyday, and along with an exceptional diet and a positive attitude he is now able to do so much more.
He’s a very special client – and person – and we’re thrilled to share his story with you.
Many people think of exercise and a healthy diet as the key ingredients of a fit and healthy lifestyle. But did you know that getting a good night’s sleep is every bit as important as a getting in a good workout or eating all that kale?
Here are the three ways sleep can make – or break – your fitness goals (and why you should never cut your ‘zzz’s short).
Poul Nielsen is the President and Owner of Nielsen Fitness, Toronto's leading team of in-home personal trainers. He has 20 years' experience in the fitness industry, and loves to empower people's lives through physical fitness. He's also Certified dozens of trainers through his Trainer Education Program.
In addition to exercise (obviously), he loves spending time with his family, playing the guitar, strong coffee - and dark chocolate!
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