Saturday, December 1, 2018

Get Shredded, Look Lean: Benefits of Intermittent Fasting


Much of the mainstream fitness media has been promoting the idea of eating every 2 to 3 hours until a few hours before you nod off. While this may work for some, especially those looking to bulk up, it may not be ideal for other fitness goals such as weight loss and performance enhancement. If you’re looking for a new way to schedule your meals that can have significant benefits, intermittent fasting may be the answer.

What is Intermittent Fasting?



Intermittent fasting is a specific way to time your meals. There are several variations of intermittent fasting that you’ll find online with different hour timetables but regardless of which method you follow, here are the common traits shared throughout:

·      You do not eat any food or calorie-based beverages for a majority of the day (some systems require no calories for 24 hours)

·      You have a feeding window where you take in all of your calories – 8 hours is the most common
·      Water, black coffee, plain tea, and calorie-free options are allowed

·      Exercise is highly encouraged, especially near the conclusion of the fast if you want to amplify fat burning, lean tissue growth, and endurance gains (e.g., last hour of the fast)

What are the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?


Sure, it may seem counterintuitive to everything you’ve heard up to this point but the science is firmly in the corner of intermittent fasting. There have been a variety of studies published on fasting showing the unique benefits that you may experience.

Fat loss

·      Hands down the most talked about benefit of intermittent fasting is weight loss. Numerous studies have shown that engaging in an intermittent fasting program, even one that involves fasting every other day, can promote weight loss and support long term weight management.

Hormone health

·      For men, healthy testosterone levels are of growing concern. We live in a time when men are experiencing some of the lowest levels ever. Intermittent fasting is an effective and natural way to increase healthy hormone levels without the need for injections or costly procedures. Studies show that intermittent fasting is able to increase the production and release of essential growth hormones, even in obese individuals who are known for having very low levels of testosterone.

Muscle building

·      While not ideal for building bulky muscle mass, intermittent fasting may be an excellent way to support lean muscle gains, making it especially useful for men and women who need to look lean year-round. Intermittent fasting helps you lose bodyweight without impacting current levels of muscle mass. Theoretically, the increase in your growth hormone levels will support muscle recovery and growth.

Cognitive health

·      One of the most incredible benefits of intermittent fasting is its ability to support cognitive health. Studies show that intermittent fasting may be able to boost cognitive functioning while helping to prevent cognitive-based illnesses such as Alzheimer’s.

Disease prevention

·      Continuing with the idea above, those who take part in intermittent fasting may have a much lower risk for disease with an emphasis on cardiovascular disease. Numerous studies have shown that fasting has a unique effect on the body, allowing for cell regeneration and promoting overall health. Fasting has been linked to lower incidents of age-related disease.

Best Intermittent Fasting Programs


                           

While you may find different variations of intermittent fasting across the internet, here are the two most popular systems that also seem to be the most accessible for first-timers.

16/8


For 16 hours each day, you will fast. This means that you don’t consume any caloric-based drinks and you can’t eat. You can drink plenty of water, black coffee, plain tea, and calorie-free options. Once the 16-hour fast is finished, you have an 8-hour feeding window in which you can follow your normal diet.


While 16 hours of fasting may seem like a lot, the bulk of the fasting time is done while you are sleeping. Most people begin their fasting at 8 p.m. and then do not eat again until 12 p.m. the next day. When you’re just starting out, those last few hours can be tough. I find that coffee helps me get through the final stretch by calming my hunger pangs.

You can choose to follow the 16/8 system every day but most people find that Monday through Friday is sufficient. Once you master the 16/8 system, you may want to try the 24-hour method.

24 Hours (once a month)


The other system that you can try is the 24-hour fast, which is done once a month. Some veterans of this system do it twice per month.

The idea is the same as the 16/8 system: you don’t eat anything or drink any calorie-based beverages for 24 hours. However, I wouldn’t recommend the same start and stop time. If you begin a 24-hour fast at 8 p.m. then that means your first meal will be at 8 p.m. the next day. This may be troublesome, especially if you fall asleep early.

I recommend starting your fast either earlier in the day or first thing in the morning. For example, if you have a light breakfast in the morning around 7 a.m. then you would not eat again until 8 or 9 a.m. the next day. Again, you can utilize coffee to help get you past the rough parts if you’re new to fasting. If you're new to the 24-hour fast, I would recommend doing it on a quiet day. 

Understandably, you may be worried about losing hard-earned muscle mass since you’ll be without food for 24 hours. Studies show that the only thing you’ll lose is stored body fat. Lean muscle tissue is not at risk until you reach 72 hours of fasting and even then the risk is minimal.

Everyday Reasons to Fast



Travel: When you’re flying, stuck on a train, or sitting on a long-haul bus ride, it’s not likely that you’ll have access to the healthiest foods in the world. What’s more, if you’re following a specific diet such as the Paleo or Keto diet, chances are a budget airline or train service isn’t going to be able to cater to your needs.

Instead of sacrificing your progress, try fasting. If you’re using the 16/8 method described above, try to time your fasting window for the time you’ll be traveling. As soon as you arrive to your destination, you’ll have a better chance of finding healthy foods.

Illness: Whether you’ve been hit with the latest common cold or you’re fighting off a stomach bug, your body needs all of the energy it can get. For example, the digestive system consumes energy to digest food. When you’re sick, it’s best to fast, so that your body can focus its energy on supporting the immune system, as opposed to the digestive system.

Science supports this idea; studies suggest that short term fasting can give the immune system a much-needed boost. What’s more, researchers found that the immune system responded particularly well to fasting during a bacterial infection.

Diet Fail: It happens to everyone: Those weeks of perfect eating are suddenly upset by a bad day at work or a friend’s over-the-top birthday party. Whether you’re on a diet to gain muscle or get thin, when a cheat meal becomes a cheat day (or two), consider fasting.

You can try the opposite as well: If you have an upcoming event where you know you are going to have to indulge in less than ideal foods, try a 24-hour fast the day before. 

My Experience with Intermittent Fasting



Focus: I’ll admit that when you’re just getting started with intermittent fasting, it’s not the most enjoyable activity especially if you’re alone with your thoughts. I’ve found that keeping myself busy dramatically helps with staying faithful to fasting.

I prefer to get lost in a fun activity where I lose track of time. Do you have a business or personal project that you’ve been meaning to spend time on? Want to learn a new language or skill? Try putting all of your attention into an activity. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the time goes by and how effectively you adapt to fasting. 



Exercise: One of the activities that could take all of your attention is exercise. I enjoy exercising during my fasting hours and timing so that once I finish my workout, I enter my feeding window as mentioned in the 16/8 method. 

My workouts primarily include mobility and crawling-based exercises. I also perform weight lifting exercises and diaphragmatic breathing. Let’s take a look at a sample of my fasted-training workouts.

Fasted Training Workouts


Here is a workout that you can do in a fasted state. If you want to know the amazing ways that crawling can improve your health outside of fitness, check out my book on the benefits of crawlingIt is geared toward improving your mobility, flexibility, and cardiovascular health. 



One tip that I mentioned above: To get the most out of workouts, I recommend timing the exercise so that it ends at the same time your fast does. Personally, I prefer first thing in the morning, after having dinner the night before. That way, once I get home from the gym, it’s time to eat!

As always, if you have any question, please e-mail me or let me know in the comments below.

FASTED WORKOUT: CRAWLING

Warm-Up:
·          Karioka 4 sets of 10 yards



Crawling Exercises:

·         Spiderman Crawl: 3 to 5 sets of 15 to 20 yards



·    Cross Crawl Walk: 3 to 5 sets of 15 to 20 yards


     
     Crab Crawl: 3 to 5 sets of 10 to 12 yards



    Lateral Crisscross  Crawl:3 to 5 sets of 10 to 12 yards in one direction then 10 to 12 yards in the other direction



Cool-Down: 
      Diaphragmatic Breathing: 3-5 minutes


Important Things to Note


While fasting is very beneficial, it’s crucial to fast safely. Here are some tips to follow to ensure you maximize the benefits of fasting while minimizing the risks.

Hydrate with Electrolytes: Remember, fasting means abstaining from food, not water. You’ll want to avoid calorie-based beverages but water has zero calories. With that said, you don’t want to just drink bottled water that has no minerals in it. This will flush out your electrolytes, critical nutrients for building electrical pathways between cells, and put you at risk for dizziness, nausea, and fainting.



I recommend drinking at least 64 ounces of water per day while squirting an electrolyte supplement in your glass. It’ll make your water taste great and keep electrolyte levels high. I recommend Trace Minerals.

Get More B-Vitamins: I also recommend B vitamins, especially day long fasts. As you’re drinking water all day, you run the risk of a deficiency in one of the B-vitamins. This is because B-vitamins are water soluble, meaning they get excreted through daily diet, exercise, and lifestyle. This is the opposite of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin D, which gets stored in the liver.

B12 supplements are okay, but I would say that a B-complex supplement is much better. In this way, you’re getting the entire spectrum of B-vitamins and not just one. I personally take Nature’s Bounty B-Complex.

Listen to Your Body: Above all, make sure that fasting doesn’t impair your ability to work, perform tasks, or drive. The best way to do this is to listen to your body and don’t overdo it. 

If you are feeling sick or lightheaded, take a moment to relax. If you don’t feel better, it’s okay to stop your fast. Sometimes, people need to work up to getting used to the full 16 or 24 hours so don’t beat yourself up if you need to start at 12 hours each day then add an additional hour the following month.

Conclusion


Have you ever tried intermittent fasting? What benefits did you notice? Do you follow the 16/8 system or do you have your own method? Tell me about it in the comments below!

References


1. Heilbronn LK, Smith SR, Martin CK, Anton SD, Ravussin E. Alternate-day fasting in nonobese subjects: effects on body weight, body composition, and energy metabolism. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jan;81(1):69-73.

2. Johnson JB, Summer W, Cutler RG, Martin B, Hyun DH, Dixit VD, Pearson M, Nassar M, Telljohann R, Maudsley S, Carlson O, John S, Laub DR, Mattson MP. Alternate day calorie restriction improves clinical findings and reduces markers of oxidative stress and inflammation in overweight adults with moderate asthma. Free Radic Biol Med. 2007 Mar 1;42(5):665-74. Epub 2006 Dec 14.

3. K Y Ho, J D Veldhuis, M L Johnson, R Furlanetto, W S Evans, K G Alberti, and M O Thorner. Fasting enhances growth hormone secretion and amplifies the complex rhythms of growth hormone secretion in man. J Clin Invest. 1988 Apr; 81(4): 968–975. doi: 10.1172/JCI113450.

4. Röjdmark S, Asplund A, Rössner S. Pituitary-testicular axis in obese men during short-term fasting. Acta Endocrinol (Copenh). 1989 Nov;121(5):727-32.

5. Mesbahzadeh B, Ghiravani Z, Mehrjoofard H. Effect of Ramadan fasting on secretion of sex hormones in healthy single males. East Mediterr Health J. 2005 Sep-Nov;11(5-6):1120-3.

6. Van Praag, Henriette et al. “Exercise, Energy Intake, Glucose Homeostasis, and the Brain.” The Journal of Neuroscience 34.46 (2014): 15139–15149. PMC. Web. 14 Nov. 2017.

7. Aly SM. Role of Intermittent Fasting on Improving Health and Reducing Diseases. International Journal of Health Sciences. 2014;8(3):V-VI.


8. van den Brink GR, van den Boogaardt DE, van Deventer SJ, Peppelenbosch MP. Feed a cold, starve a fever? Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 2002 Jan;9(1):182-3.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

The Benefits of Fitness Training

If you’ve ever joined a commercial gym before, you are more than aware of the offer for the free fitness assessment that comes with it. Many people take advantage of this and discover risks for injury they never knew they had. The mistake that most gyms make after the assessment is the high-pressure sales talk. Suddenly, it becomes less about you and more about getting your name of a piece of paper. As a personal trainer, I’ve seen it happen all too often.


Assessment aside, I want to explain why a hiring a personal trainer – even if it’s only for a month – could be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. No sales talk. Just the facts. 

It Will Pay for Itself



First off, hiring a personal trainer is an investment that will pay for itself in the long run. A great trainer won’t just give you a workout and a diet, he or she will explain step by step the why behind the program and diet. The best way to look at hiring a trainer is like a work internship. 

You’re working with an expert who will teach you through hands-on training how to care for your body. This is information that you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life. It’s information you can share with those who are closest to you to help them change their lives.



Sure, some people do stick with a personal trainer for years. It’s not because they haven’t learned how to exercise or how to eat. It’s about the connection that the trainer and client have built up over time. It becomes less about hiring a trainer and more about training with a friend. I have several clients that have long since reached their goals but they continue working with me because of the motivation, support, and genuine interest that I provide.


There are plenty of people who hire a trainer for a few months, learn what they need, and continue on their own. Either way, a personal trainer is an effective long-term investment in yourself.

Finds Your Strengths, Identifies Your Risks


The first thing that you and your trainer will do is go through an assessment often called the Functional Movement Screen. It involves a series of seemingly simple movements that can quickly identify your strong points, muscle overcompensations, tightness, and risk for injury.

The best trainers will continue monitoring your strengths, weaknesses, and injury risk during each training session. The trainer may not outright say what he or she is doing except in a simple postural correction. Little by little, you watch your weaknesses disappear and your risk for injury dramatically decrease.



Continuing with the point above, a great trainer will explain in detail areas of concern and the plan of action that will be taken to correct the weaknesses. You’ll be actively learning the steps you can take on your own to avoid issues due to muscular over compensation, tightness, and problem areas.

Eventually, you’ll feel like you are running the show during your workouts and the trainer is there for motivation and support.

Uncomplicates Nutrition


Aside from going over a Functional Movement Screen with you, a great personal trainer will also spend a great deal of time learning about your eating habits, medical issues, and any pertinent information related to your diet. From this, he or she will create an easy-to-understand meal planner recommendation. This will include recommendations for meal ideas, macronutrients, daily caloric intake, and supplements.



Again, it won’t be just a piece of paper for you to follow. Your trainer will walk you through each recommendation so that you understand the potential benefits and how it specifically applies to you based on a number of acute variables such as your height, weight, lifestyle, and goals.


Personally, I ask my clients to email me their food journal entries each week so I can review their weekly progress and make suggestions if necessary to allow them to continue moving towards their goals. 

Always Changing Custom Workouts


One of the most common mistakes that newcomers to fitness make is they find a workout online and use it for months without changing a thing. Not only is this dangerous but it potentially won’t do anything for them since it hasn’t been designed to meet that individual’s specific measurements, lifestyle, and fitness goals.



One-size-fits-all workouts can be troublesome especially when exercises are recommended that you have never done before. Same goes for workout videos. Sure, you can see the movement being performed but you can’t ask the instructor for coaching points. 


When you hire a personal trainer, you can rest assured that you are getting a custom-built workout program that is specifically designed for YOU and no one else. The program will emphasize your strengths, improve your weak points, and reduce or eliminate areas of risk.


What’s more, your workout program will never stay the same. A great trainer will constantly be tweaking your workout program to ensure you continue to improve in all areas.

Keeps Working Outside the Gym



Finally, the best personal trainers keep working long after you have left the gym. Great trainers provide 24/7 support for their clients in order to maximize recovery and results.

Personally, I take two hours each and every day including weekends to answer e-mails and texts from my clients. My clients know that like a friend they can always reach out to ask questions or get support.  

Ready to Change Your Life?


If you’re ready to get serious about pursuing your fitness goals, then it’s time to get signed up with a personal trainer who has fifteen years in the industry.

I offer a 100% money-back guarantee if you are unsatisfied in any way. I am a trainer who believes in this industry because it’s my passion. I love helping people achieve their goals and making lifelong friends in the process.

You can call (617-505-2627) or e-mail me (Will@byrdtraining.com) and let’s get you started with a completely free fitness assessment to see how I can help you achieve your ideal physique.