Health

Friday 25 July 2014

It's time for a change

Karl Henry

OVER the coming weeks, my column will be changing shape, from now on I will be answering questions from our readers and from my clients, questions that I think are common to as many people as possible.

You know, the ones you always wanted to know the answer to but didn't know who to ask – they are exactly the ones that I want you to ask me.

To submit your questions, simply email me at karlhenry@independent.ie and I will try my best to answer them in my column.

Here are two questions that I get asked all the time, ones that I think are relevant to people all across the country:

WILL I LOSE WEIGHT BY DIETING ALONE?

In the quest for weight loss, so many try to lose weight by simply cutting calories out of their diet, restricting the calories to 1,200 or below, even five to six hundred isn't uncommon. Or switching to low-calorie versions of normal foods, will you lose weight? Yes, for a while you will.

Our bodies have individual energy requirements just to keep them going, called your basal metabolic rate, so by reducing your calories you are creating a deficit, which will give you short-term weight loss.

Why short term?

* You will eventually tire of the low energy and hunger.

* By restricting any food type, you are creating a craving for that food.

* You are actually replacing real nutrients with artificial ingredients that are lower in calories but generally higher in sugar.

As well as creating short-term weight loss, you will also:

* Slow down your metabolism as the body reacts to the low calorie intake.

* Reduce your lean muscle tissue, so you may lose weight, but you will be soft and have very little muscle tone.

* Be pretty miserable as you're fighting a losing battle.

So by just trying to lose weight by dieting or supplementing with meal replacements, in my opinion you are doing more harm than good, and generally spending a fortune too, for short-term weight loss.

Instead I believe real weight loss is a combination of three elements:

* Changing your diet: Yes it is important, reduce your sugars and eat more clean foods.

* Move more: Cardiovascular work is essential for your aerobic fitness and helps to burn calories, generally fat, if you are getting slightly out of breath in your walks or runs. Always ensure you can talk.

* Resistance sessions: Weights or body weight exercises such as squats and press-ups are also essential to help you lose weight, increase your metabolism, increase your muscle tone and feel good.

So to answer the question, to lose weight and keep it off, I would recommend all three elements above, not just changing your diet. No matter what route you choose, avoid meal replacements at all costs.

WHY DO I GET SORE AFTER A WORKOUT, AND HOW CAN I REDUCE THE PAIN?

Another great question. To answer it, let's take a look at what happens to the body when you train.

Your muscles are made up of fibres, knitted together like an elastic band. When you train, you tear these fibres apart, then they grow back over time, these minute muscle tears are what cause the pain.

Depending on the type of exercise you do, you might find that you swell up too, not uncommon but you can reduce this, too.

More often than not you will find that you are even more sore two days later, this is caused by DOMS – or delayed onset muscle soreness – it is totally normal so don't worry about that.

The best ways to reduce the pain are as follows:

* Don't try to do too much too soon. Ease back into exercise slowly and increase the effort over time as you are able for it.

* Have a cold shower or bath after your workout and you will be amazed at how quickly you can recover. If you live by the sea, a quick dip in the ocean is even better, as the salt in the water is super for recovery.

* If cold isn't your thing, then try an epsom salt bath in warm water, use two mugfuls of salts and chill out.

* Cool down. At the end of your session, do a short cool down and some easy stretches.

* Active recovery sessions can also make a big difference, even if you are sore at the start of the session, by doing some exercise you will loosen up remarkably fast, just ease into the session and let the body loosen up.

* If you find that you are sore after an easy session that normally wouldn't affect you, then chances are you are overtrained and use this as a warning sign to take some time off and recover.

These simple tips will reduce the pain after your workout and also help to improve your results that you get from your training, so try them!

Irish Independent

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