Nutracheck Fitness Expert Kelly Marshall answers your Facebook questions

Emma White - Nutritionist | 23 May, 2014

When it comes to exercise and weight loss, there are so many different theories it's hard to know if you're doing the right thing!

You posted your burning questions on our Facebook page and we asked Kelly Marshall, Nutracheck's Fitness Specialist to give her expert advice. Read Kelly's responses below and start getting fit for summer!

"What is a good workout routine to tone up the whole body, especially my muffin top!"

Kelly says:

A total body approach ('TBA') workout is one that targets all the big muscle groups and combines movement patterns to optimise calorie burning and lean muscle development. This can be done with equipment in a gym-type setting (cables, TRX, Olympic bars etc) or in the comfort of your own home with bodyweight exercises, depending on your circumstances and preferences.

An example of a simple home TBA workout could include the following:

  1. Air Squats – 20 repetitions
  2. Backward Lunges – 10 on each leg, alternate
  3. Press Ups – 12 repetitions
  4. The Plank – hold for 40 seconds
  5. Knee Drives (press up position bringing your knees up to your chest one at a time)
  6. Side Plank – 10 each side

(See previous post for videos showing you how to do some these exercises).

Work through all 6 exercises without rest, then have a break at the end of the sequence for 25 seconds before going again. Repeat for 3-4 sets. The idea is to achieve intensity to burn calories during the session, elevate the metabolic rate (to optimise calorie burn after the session) as well as target the hips, bums, thighs and upper body for a total body approach with emphasis for muffin top area.

fitness 1

"I'm considering taking up running, in the gym initially then I hope to do the C25k on the road. My question is will running tone and slim down my hips and thighs? (I'm a pear shape!) Do I need to do weights for my legs as well? What would you suggest?"

Kelly says:

Running (the longer the distance the better) is an effective aerobic exercise that can contribute to toning and slimming the legs. It promotes improvements in heart health and supports fat loss by developing a better ability to utilise fat stores for fuel. The lean muscle development that occurs more in the initial few months of taking up running does have a ceiling, so once the improvements appear to reach a limit, bodyweight strength training can take the toning benefits further.

A simple bodyweight circuit to target all the muscles in the leg / hip area would not only shape and tone the legs, but also support your running mechanics and progression as well. Exercises such as walking lunges, floor bridges, single leg squats and donkey kicks (on all fours and kicking one leg up in the air then switching legs) could be done in a circuit-style format and repeated with minimal rest 2-3 sets. This would be a good addition to an existing workout or useful as a stand along one to do at home on days when you're not running.

fitness 2

"I have been doing Nutracheck for 7 weeks and have been really good but the last 3 weeks I have stayed the same weight. I find it hard to exercise as I am waiting to have a kidney transplant, but I need to lose more weight. I have been sticking to my calories. Help!"

Kelly says:

Well done for your initial weight loss so far and don't worry about the plateau during the last 3 weeks. It is important to remember that fluctuations in body water can vary by several pounds within a few hours and the timing of your "weigh-in" is also important as having gone without something to eat or drink for a few hours or having just been to the loo could make several pounds of a difference and give a low reading. Whereas the opposite scenario could give a higher than actual weight – and the difference between the two results could be as much as half a stone.

I would suggest you consider the following to figure out the reason for the 'plateau':

  1. Be very strict with the calories you consume – sometimes we can leave small things out or make minor underestimations in the amount we are actually consuming which obviously would provide misleading calorie figures. Even if you are sure you are doing it right, reassess! It's amazing what you can sometimes realise when you double-check your figures/amounts/foods etc.
  2. Exercise wise, you obviously need to workout in accordance with your ability and limitations surrounding your kidneys, so just do whatever you can manage. Exercise in its classic form is important but not essential, and weight loss is still totally achievable by ensuring the calorie deficit is achieved through your diet.
  3. General activity – this is a great way to support the limitations you have with exercise. On most days make sure you are still taking opportunities to move more – use the stairs, park further away – and keep looking for ways to do more. The days you don't exercise are as crucial as the ones you do and you can contribute to the daily calorie balance through physical activity.
  4. With relation to your food, make sure you aren't over consuming due to exercise (when/if you do exercise). Often we can end up taking on too many calories because exercise increases the metabolism, so we need to 'refuel' correctly. Make sure you have a post-training snack in the first 15 minutes after your exercise sessions to help curb any overconsumption later on that day. Also, make sure you are adjusting your food consumption on rest days, i.e. not eating as much!
  5. This may sound strange but make sure you get enough sleep! With regular training, your body will need adequate rest to recover and adapt. If however, you also have moderate-high levels of emotional or occupational stress, have irregular sleeping patterns and/or stay up late/get up early, then your body may be more tired then you realise. The way we often deal with this scenario is to eat more in an attempt to alleviate the tiredness. So BE AWARE, consider whether this could be a potential factor for you. Being aware of it is half the battle won already!
  6. Finally make sure you are re-hydrating! Drink water little and often and ensure you absolutely consume 2 litres of water on the days you exercise. If we are dehydrated our body's ability to burn body fat is directly affected.

Nutritionist Emma White (ANutr), MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.

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