Intermittent Fasting: A Beginner’s Guide to the Fasting Diet
Fasting is something that’s played a key role in virtually all of the world’s major religions and dates back millions of years. Today, though, while fasting is still observed for many religious purposes, it’s become a new lifestyle that helps individuals lose weight, have more energy, and fight disease.
While fasting isn’t a new concept, intermittent fasting is something that has emerged in the past few years. It has gained popularity due to the incredible benefits it offers against signs of aging and disease.
Keep reading to learn about intermittent fasting and why this may want to be a lifestyle change you make.
Understanding Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is a process that involves cycling in and out of periods where you eat and don’t eat. While people do experience (often significant) weight loss with this eating schedule, it’s not as much of a diet plan as it is a lifestyle choice that provides a wide array of health benefits.
There are several methods used with intermittent fasting. These include:
The 5:2 Method
This is the method that allows you to eat normally for five days a week. The two days after are for fasting, but you still eat. The goal is to keep calorie intake on this day between 500 and 600.
The Eat-Stop-Eat Method
This method is a bit different. With this, you restrict all food for a period of 24 hours. This is repeated two to three times per week.
The 16/8 Method
Here, you consume all your daily calories within a shortened period of time. In most cases, you eat in a period of six to eight hours.
The remaining 14 to 16 hours during the day, you fast. This is the method that can be done daily, or several times a week.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
When you switch to intermittent fasting, it will expand your limits while boosting your performance in several ways. Some of the specific benefits offered by this way of eating include:
- Increase energy
- Reduce bad cholesterol
- Protect against various neurodegenerative diseases
- Boost weight loss
- Promote longevity
- Reduce insulin resistance
- Promote cellular repair
As you can see, the benefits are vast. As a result, this may be something you should consider trying.
Tips to Make the Most of Intermittent Fasting
While not eating for specific amounts of time alone offers health benefits, if you want to make the most of this lifestyle choice, there are a few other tips you need to use.
It can’t be a free-for-all when you do eat, as this is going to negate many of the benefits this way of eating offers. Some additional tips include:
- Avoid refined grains and sugars (choose low-carb snacks when possible)
- Don’t snack between meals
- Remain active
- Avoid snacking or eating in the evening and at night
By using these tips, the results of your intermittent fasting will be much more evident.
Be Healthier and Happier with Intermittent Fasting
As you can see, there are several options to consider if you are interested in intermittent fasting. As a result, you aren’t going to feel as deprived or hungry while following this way of eating.
Do you want to make a change to be healthier and happier? If so, let us help! Contact us to learn more about our nine-week challenge.
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- By Humberto Hernandez — 6 months ago
Low on Weights?
12 Ideas for Resistance Training Without Weights
Don’t think you have the budget to get fit? Think again! Try these creative ways to log your resistance training without shelling out for a weight set.
Staying fit doesn’t require a gym membership, nor does it require setting aside a block of time for a full work-out. You can build a resistance training program that can be done anywhere and at any time. Best of all you eliminate the pressure of exercising in front of others.
Imagine working out at the beach on Sunday, in your backyard on Monday, and the park on Tuesday. Experiment and find an inviting place to work out where you are most energized. Grab a yoga mat and get to work using the best bodyweight exercises for your desired results.
Develop a plan and work at your own pace reaching your individual goals. Exercise routines that are free of equipment give you the same results as weights if you know how to work the right muscles.
Ready to work-out without spending money on equipment? Continue reading for 12 resistance training ideas that don’t require weights.
1. Lunge Variations
Lunges are a popular way to do leg workouts at home. There are numerous versions, so you never get bored.
The standard variation, or bodyweight lunge, requires you to stand up straight with your shoulders back and chin up. Step forward with your left foot and with a tightened core, lower your hips and bend your knees at a 90-degree angle. Keep your left knee level with your ankle and lower the back knee, but do not let it touch the ground.
Using your front heel for support, lift the body back up into the standing position. You can do multiple reps with the left knee leading and then switch to the right.
Once you’ve mastered the lunge, switch it up and incorporate the following into your sets.
The curtsy gets its name from the British greeting for women and girls. In this variation, you will start with your feet hip-width apart. Step backward with one leg and cross it behind you. Follow the steps of lowering your body.
With the reverse lunge, you will follow the same steps as the standard lunge. In this rep, the emphasis will be on the back leg. Use it to lower the body, and the ball of the foot to lift the body back up.
The walking lunge follows the steps of the standard lunge. Instead of doing reps with the left leg and then the right leg, you are going to switch things up. After returning to the standing position step forward with the right leg and go into the lunge.
Continue the motions and move around the room. This is a good time to incorporate small weights if you have them. Raise your hands to shoulder height and reach to the ceiling with each step.
2. Burpees for Resistance Training
Burpees are a good exercise and the key benefits is strength building. There is a burpee for beginners. Once you master these motions we’ll get into the advanced version.
Start in the standing position. Squat down and then kick your legs back until you are positioned on your toes. You will be in a position similar to a plank (we will cover planks later). Bring your legs back into a squat and stand back up with your arms reaching upward.
Continue doing this until your motion becomes fluid.
Now that you have the burpee down interject a push-up when the body is in plank position. Follow that up by jumping up instead of merely returning to the standing position.
3. Mountain Climbers
Mountain climbers give you a full body work-out. It also increases your heart rate for a high-quality cardio exercise and a natural shot of energy.
With your arms at your side and feet shoulder-width apart, squat to the floor and position your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor. Go into the plank position with your arms straight. Do not lock your elbows.
Begin with your left leg. Bring it forward with your knee towards the chest, extend it back out and bring up the right knee. Continue this rotation for your desired set of reps.
Between sets bring both feet forward and jump up similar to a burpee. Rest for about 15 – 30 seconds before starting the next set of reps.
4. Chin and Pull Ups
These upper body exercises will require a sturdy bar high enough to extend your arms over your head. Your feet should not touch the ground between reps. If you are tall or the bar is too low, bend your knees and cross your feet at the ankle.
The difference between the two exercises is the positioning of the hands on the bar. The biceps will get a good work out but the pull-up will have more emphasis on the muscles in the back.
Start with your arms straight but do not lock your elbows. With your hands on the bar shoulder-width apart, pull yourself up until the chin passes the top of the bar. For the chin-up, the palms of your hands will be turned inward. Having the palms turn outward is the position for the pull-up.
Once you have pulled the body up, hold the position for several seconds before descending back down.
Planks, like lunges, can be done in numerous variations. If you’re looking for at home exercises, place this one at the top of your list. We do suggest that you have a yoga mat or some other protective cushioning for your elbows.
The simple forearm plank is used to strengthen the core muscles by forcing you to stabilize your body. For this exercise lie on the ground with your body face down and feet spread waist-width apart. When you lift-up into the plank position you will be supported by the toes and ball of the feet.
Rest your body on your elbows with the forearms resting on the floor and hand clasped. The elbows should be shoulder-width apart and your body straight using your core muscles. Hold the position for at least one minute and challenge yourself to increase the time with each rep.
Do push-ups for resistance training to strengthen the triceps. They also work to build your core muscles. Push-ups can be done the traditional way or the less strenuous method designed for women. You also can vary the placement of the hands to direct the elbows outward or backward.
Stretch out on the floor face down. With your hands should-width apart and in the desired position bend your elbows and push the body up.
To start the exercise, bend the elbows and lower your body stopping before the chest or breast touch the floor. Do short counts before pushing the body back up. Remember, when the arms are straightened, stop before the elbows lock.
Do as many reps as you can before coming to a full rest.
7. Posing for Balance
Resistance training isn’t just about toning, it is also about building core strength that helps the body support your spine. Posing are exercises that help with balance which is the result of a strong core. You will find these techniques in yoga classes but they also provide good at home exercises.
You won’t need a chair for this pose because you will become the chair. Stand with your feet together. Put your weight into the heels of your feet as you bend your knees into a sitting position. Raise your arms upward with palms touching.
Hold the pose for a minimum of 10 seconds and then repeat the motion.
Stand straight with your feet flush together. Bring your right foot up and rest it on either the inside of your lower left thigh or below the left knee. Turn the right knee outward and bring your hands up to the center of your chest pressed together.
Take a deep breath and hold the pose for three – five seconds. Release and repeat.
8. Jumping Jacks
If you had physical education classes in school you should have jumping jacks mastered already. Some people may not think of them for resistance training but they are a total body workout. Jumping jacks target the glutes, quadriceps and hip flexors.
You will also work your shoulders and core muscles. Even better, the help with speeding up your metabolism.
Start by standing straight with your hands down by your sides and palms facing your outer thighs, and feet together. Jump up about two-three inches from the ground spreading your legs shoulder-width or wider. At the same time bring your arms out and up until they meet above your head.
Bring your arms back to your side and your legs together. Repeat this motion nonstop as you count out your jumping jacks. A good warm-up would be 50 – 100 jumping jacks.
Sit-ups have many benefits, the most popular is tightening stomach muscles and strengthening the core. Here are two variations. Both start with a standard sit-up position.
With legs shoulder-width apart and the palm of your hands together, bend your knees slightly and lift your legs off the ground. At the same time lift your upper body as if you are doing a sit-up. Twist the torso to the left and then the right, twice.
Exhale and relax the body on the mat. Repeat for the desired sets
Position your arms against your sides with palms facing down. Tighten your abs and raise both legs toward the ceiling. Lower the left leg to about two inches from the ground. Raise the left leg while lowering the right.
Repeat the repetition for 30 – 45 seconds.
Step-ups are a bodyweight exercise that only requires a sturdy bench that is at least knee high. With hands to you side step-up onto the bench with your left foot. Step down and then step-up with the right.
Your reps can be a straight left leg and then the right, or you can rotate left right left… The goal is to do a continuous 10 step-ups per set. You can also use weights for better resistance.
11. Triceps Dip
Triceps Dip will require a prop. It can be a chair, the edge of a sofa, or a step outside your house. Almost anything that is sturdy and can support your weight without tipping over can be used.
Sit on the edge of the chair with hands shoulder-width apart and palms down. Extend your legs out and then slide your butt off of the chair. Straighten your arms but do not lock your elbows.
Use your arms to lower and lift your body. If using a chair do not go lower than six inches from the seat. When using a step or box that is lower to the ground, do not let your butt touch the surface below you.
Try to perform about 15 reps per set. Return to the seat between sets to allow for a 10-second recovery.
12. Arm Circles
If you are looking for upper body exercises to target the back, shoulders, biceps, and triceps, arm circles are a perfect choice. Arm circles are also a great warm-up exercise that can help prevent injuries.
They are quite simple to execute and can be done while at work during a five-minute break. Start by standing up and extending your arms out with the palms of your hands facing the ground. Do a forward circular motion creating circles that are one foot in diameter.
Continue the rotation for about 10 seconds, or 10 rotations. Stop and then do the same in a backward rotation. One forward and one backward rotation represent a set. You can increase the time of the rotations or the number of back and forth reps, as your arms strengthen.
Also, consider adding small weights for additional resistance.
You’re Now Ready to Log Your Workouts
Now that you know resistance training doesn’t have to come with great expense, what are you waiting for? Before starting your weight-free workouts we recommend consulting with your physician first. Once you get the go-ahead, log your results and celebrate your successes.
Did you find these at home exercises useful? Click here to check out our nine-week body transformation challenge.
- By Humberto Hernandez — 7 months ago
Cardio For Weight Loss: 6 Crucial Facts To Keep In Mind
If you’re just establishing your exercise routine, here are some crucial facts about cardio for weight loss. Keep them in mind when developing your routine.
If you immediately turned to cardio when you started trying to lose weight, you’re not alone. When it comes to weight loss, it seems like most people associate the treadmill or the track with their path to a smaller waistline.
Cardio is definitely an important part of any workout routine, but there are some important things to keep in mind if you want to use cardio for weight loss. You have to make sure that you plan your workouts effectively to get the maximum benefit.
When you’re developing your routine, keep these six crucial facts in mind. They’ll help you get the results you want!
1. You Can’t Just Do Cardio
This first fact might seem like a weird choice to start off with. After all, isn’t the whole post about using cardio for weight loss?
Here’s the thing, though — if you want to lose weight in a healthy way, you can’t have a workout routine that’s 100% cardio. You’re going to need to incorporate strength training into your schedule if you really want to see results.
Strength training helps to build muscle mass, which will help you out down the line by speeding up your metabolism and burning additional fat. Basically, the more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn on a regular basis.
If you’re only doing cardio, on the other hand, you won’t just be burning fat — you’ll be burning muscle, too. The last thing you want to do is to burn what will help you lose weight.
If you really want to go all in for both your strength training and your cardio, we recommend putting those workouts on separate days. (Think cardio on Monday, strength training on Tuesday.) If you really want to do both on the same day, though, do your strength training before your cardio. Strength training uses more energy, so you’ll need to be at 100% before you start.
2. You Don’t Have To Stay In The Fat-Burning Zone
We’ve all fallen victim to that pesky little display on the treadmill, or checked our Fitbits religiously to make sure that we’re in the golden “fat burn” zone. What does that even mean, anyway?
It’s easy to believe that you won’t burn any fat unless your heart rate is in that magic zone. That’s not completely true, though.
The name for the zone is a little misleading. It’s not that you’ll only burn fat in that zone, it’s that a larger percentage of the calories burned comes from fat. You’ll still be burning fat in the cardio or peak zones.
What’s most important isn’t the percentage of burned calories that come from fat. If you’re going to pay attention to one of the numbers lighting up your screen, it should be total calories burned. The number of calories you burn is way more important when it comes to the big picture.
And speaking of the number of calories you burn…
3. You Don’t Have To Burn 500 Calories
We can understand where this number came from. It’s a nice, round number, it sounds like a lot, and people feel accomplished when they can say that they burned 500 calories over the course of their workouts.
What’s problematic, though, is when people think that they have to burn 500 calories for their workouts to have any effect. Depending on the type of workout you’re doing, your cardio workouts can burn fewer than 500 calories and still be great for you.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT), for example, is a series of high-intensity workouts done in short bursts. You might not burn 500 calories during your thirty-minute workout, but you’ll keep burning calories at a higher rate for hours after you leave the gym.
4. Your Workouts Don’t Need To Be Long
When you think of cardio, do you think of long runs that take a ton of time out of your day? There’s a common misconception that your cardio has to be long, slow and steady to mean anything.
Even if you don’t have an hour to spare for your workout, go for a HIIT workout instead. The quick workout will still get your heart rate up, burn calories, and give you the cardio training that you need.
People who swear by the treadmill can still get the benefit of a shorter workout. Doing shorter sessions at a higher intensity will help you get more out of your workout in less time.
5. You Should Snack Before Your Workout
There are lots of runners who enjoy waking up early in the morning and going for a run first thing. That’s a great way to start your day…as long as you eat something before you head out the door.
When you’re in a calorie-burning mindset, it’s easy to think that to burn more calories, you shouldn’t eat before you workout. If you don’t eat ahead of time, your body has to burn off the fat that’s already on your body for energy, right?
Nope, not for cardio. Your body needs something to fuel it, and it will turn to the carbs and fat in your muscles, not the fat in your fat cells.
We’re not saying to eat a full meal and then go for a run — just eat a light snack to give your body something to work with.
6. You Still Have To Eat Right
Speaking of eating, you still have to have a proper diet if you’re planning on using cardio to lose weight. Just running an extra mile every time you opt for a cookie instead of a carrot stick won’t really help you out.
If your diet is still poor, doing lots of cardio will only do so much. Nourish your body with the right foods for the workouts you’re doing. For example, you incorporate a lot of strength training into your routine, make sure you eat enough protein.
Cardio combined with eating well can help you sculpt your body into the shape you want to see.
Use Cardio For Weight Loss Effectively
If you keep these crucial facts about cardio for weight loss in mind, you’ll be able to see better results. Make the most of your workouts and use your cardio effectively. Your body will thank you.
Need a little bit of an extra push? Register for our Body Transformation Challenge to take your body to the next level.
- By Humberto Hernandez — 7 months ago
Gym Or Home Workout: Which Type Of Routine Suits You Best?
Are you happy working out at home, or do you have to be among others as you get toned? Here’s how you figure out whether you’re a gym or home workout person.
Many people ask themselves whether they should choose a gym or home workout. They may have limited budgets or time, or strict ideas on what they need from their exercise regimen.
If you are weighing the pros and cons of gyms vs. home for your fitness schedule, there are many factors to take into account. Not only should you think about what kinds of movement you prefer, but you should also think about what motivates you and what inhibits you. You want to choose the best way possible to stick with your program!
Here are 15 questions to ask yourself to determine the right fitness regimen for you.
1. Do You Need The Presence of Others?
It’s hard to slack off and watch TV at the gym. The presence of other people with similar health goals can be motivating.
There is also a healthy competitive spirit at the gym. By measuring your progress against others, you may push yourself more to work harder.
If you thrive on the opinions of others to get moving, you may wish to exercise at a gym instead of at home.
2. Have You Recently Had a Baby?
If you have recently had a baby, you are probably juggling the urge to get rid of the baby fat with exhaustion, child care, and breastfeeding. Getting out of the house may be more of a challenge than it’s worth.
In this case, you may want to start exercising in the privacy of your own home. You will be able to jump up if the baby cries, and you won’t have to compare yourself to a lot of skinny minnies in spandex.
On the other hand, if your gym has babysitting services, going out to work out can be a much-needed break for new moms.
3. Do You Work Irregular Hours?
Maybe you work the late shift and get home in the middle of the night. Maybe you need to jump in transglobal calls at odd hours. It can be hard to schedule training at the gym when real life and work worries get in the way. Not all gyms are open 24 hours a day, either.
Some people’s careers are so demanding and time-consuming that it is hard to schedule any time during the week to get to the gym. When they get home, they may just want to collapse. For these people, maybe a weekend routine or activity is best.
If you are simply too busy to be able to commit to a daily routine at a gym, you can make sure you have an inviting place to work out at home whenever possible. Invest in a treadmill, stationary bike or a set of free weights and keep them in your study or garage.
That way, you can pick up the weights or jump on the treadmill at any time you have the energy, day or night.
4. Are You Shy About Your Appearance?
Maybe you don’t like your current weight. Maybe you are ashamed at how little muscle you have in your arms and legs, and you want to bulk up more.
Going to the gym can be intimidating for people who are inhibited about how they look. They may refuse to go at all, which of course is antithetical to the goal of getting on a fitness regime.
If you are low in confidence about your physical body, start off with an at-home fitness program. You can lose weight and get into shape with exercises or even a private trainer. You will start gaining self-esteem in no time.
5. Do You Have Young Kids at Home?
It can be difficult and expensive to get to a gym when you are taking care of small children. Even though some health clubs have child care, your kids may have other ideas. Some children enjoy the playgroup at sports clubs and other venues, and some would rather relax in the comfort of their own houses.
Exercising at home allows you to save on babysitting while keeping an eye on the youngsters upstairs. You are also setting a good example, that health is an important priority in your family. They may even want to join you!
6. Do You Need to Get Out of the House?
If you are a stay-at-home mom or you work remotely, you may realize that some days you never leave the house! Signing up for a gym or fitness classes can force you to leave your abode. That’s good for not only your physical but your mental health.
A change of scenery can also be inspiring. A different environment plus exercise for even 30 minutes per day can clear your mind and reset your attitude if you are otherwise housebound.
7. Do You Work Out with Your Partner?
If you like to work out as a couple, your decision of gym or home may depend on your partner’s preferences. You can work out either place, so long as you agree.
Working out with a spouse or friend can push you when your energy flags, and pass the time if you get bored. They can inspire you. They can also annoy you-which is actually another great method of motivation!
Gyms sometimes also offer family memberships so you might be able to save some money as well.
8. Do You Want to Meet New People?
If you lead an isolated lifestyle or have moved to a new location, you may want to spend your free time meeting new people. The gym is the new singles bar, church or community center.
Many gyms organize meetups on weekends like hikes, softball games and other healthy excursions. There are even more casual ways to meet people, like at the juice bar after your work out. You will have an opportunity to meet people with similar health goals.
If you have friends at the gym, you are also more likely to return on a continuous basis. Fitness can become one of just many shared fun times.
9. Are You Trying to Lose Weight?
Overweight people are sometimes embarrassed to start working out in front of others who may be more fit. Although everyone will tell you not to worry, if it prevents you from showing up it is a problem.
Some gyms are focused on weight loss and are more likely to have a clientele with goals similar to yours. Alternatively, sometimes you will have more luck with the initial fitness push when you start working out at home.
After a little time with regular exercise and good nutrition, you may start to feel confident enough to integrate some group activities into your regimen. Many gym rats started out as overweight: they will describe to you how they used to hate going to the gym, and now they love it!
10. Do You Have Special Physical Needs?
Maybe you are recovering from an injury. Maybe you have a sensitive back or a sore shoulder. Maybe you are developing arthritis or other age-related weakness.
If you have special circumstances which might risk your well being, you are better off working out at a gym or at home with a personal trainer. You need guidance on the right kinds of exercises to do to prevent you from hurting yourself.
A professional coach or physical therapist can guide you in ways that strengthen the body part in question without risk of additional injury or strain. They can spot you if you are hesitant about certain moves.
11. Do You Like A Certain Kind of Music?
Some gyms blast loud music non-stop. You may love that! Or it might send you screaming for the hills.
You can always wear headphones if you like a specific kind of music to get you going or to block out the noise of others. However, if you prefer to blast Gregorian chants first thing in the morning while doing your sit-ups, you may be better off in the privacy of your own home.
12. Are You On A Strict Budget?
Gyms vary widely in price depending on the services they offer and the location. There are fancy gyms with pools and spas, located in high-end real estate markets, where the monthly membership fees can be high. There are also plain nuts-and-bolts gyms which just provide the basics.
Working out at home can be more cost effective because you save yourself those high monthly fees. However, paying for something sometimes ensures that you actually do it.
If you want to save some bucks, working out at home is a great option so long as you actually stick with the program. One alternative is to hire a coach to come in once per week to create a program you adhere to the rest of the time. They will check up on your progress and adjust your routine as you improve.
13. Do You Need Extra Encouragement?
Sometimes when you work out alone you can just give up. If you get tired or it hurts, there is no reason to keep going! And the refrigerator is just inches away, full of enticing snacks…
If you are pushing through an aerobics class at the gym, the teacher is probably hollering words of encouragement throughout. If you are bench pressing an extra heavy weight in the gym and you are struggling, the words of encouragement from the trainer and your fellow gym members can make all the difference.
Working out with people gives us an extra kick. It’s often too easy to throw in the towel when you are home alone, unless you have a coach by your side urging you to do your best.
14. Do You Crave Variety?
Boredom is a big enemy of fitness. Some people need to shake it up often, or else they just get bored and quit.
If you choose a gym and you are inclined towards boredom, make sure there are lots of different activities. Do they offer a range of fitness classes like Pilates, yoga, and TRX? Do they have a pool, tennis courts or cycling?
If you are working out at home, shake it up. Go for hikes or run outside in nice weather. Use videotapes of different workouts and change your soundtrack often. You can even work out in different rooms of the house.
Changing your exercise routine is not only good for you mentally, but it is good for you physically. It is healthy to work out different muscle groups and alternate between endurance, cardio, and weight training.
15. Do You Want Nutritional Advice?
Most exercise programs work best when they are supplemented by a diet. You will find many different opinions on the best diet plan for your specific goal: to lose weight, build muscle, or address specific health issues.
If you decide you would be happier at a gym, choose one with someone on staff who can help guide your nutritional regimen as well as your exercise program. Many trainers and coaches can advise on specific diets, foods to avoid, and perfect portions. Other gyms even sell nutritional supplements and other items which are better for you than snacking on junk food at home.
If you are working out at home, you can research the many resources available which advise on the best methods to achieve your nutritional goals. You might also work with a coach who is also educated on diet.
Gym or Home Workout? Either or Both May Work For You
If you are trying to decide whether the gym or home workout is right for you, you need to look at your personal preferences, goals, and priorities. But be flexible! Your life may evolve over time.
You may want to go to a gym after working out at home for a few months and losing weight. Your child will soon be old enough to want to participate in a playgroup. You may learn ways to go through your circuit at the gym quickly and efficiently in a way that works with your tight schedule.
Whatever you decide, there is always an option which will work with your specific lifestyle, family, and budget. The important thing is to just do it.
For more information on working out and living right, check out our blog.