CARBS AT NIGHT: FAT LOSS KILLER…

…or imaginary boogeyman?

There are quite a few things that everyone in the fitness industry KNOWS. You have to eat 8 meals per day, consume 400g+ protein per day, do fasted cardio, use heavy weights to bulk up, and light weights wit high reps to tone up… oh wait, those are all BROSCIENCE! Don’t get me wrong, bodybuilding and fitness have been on the cutting edge of many dietary and training interventions that mainstream science is only now catching up. Unfortunately, the vetting process for many of these protocols isn’t exactly stringent. Thus, many things become accepted as fact, when in reality they are BROSCIENCE. The debate about whether or not it’s ok to have carbs at night has been all but settled in the fitness industry. You simply can’t consume a shred of carbohydrates at night or you will store fat faster than vampire rises after the sun sets! That is, according to many fitness ‘experts’ out there, most of whose credentials are worth about as much as a thin sheet of slightly used one ply toilet paper. So Anthony Collova, owner of Broscience.com and IIFYM.com asked me to look into this fitness factoid to determine if eating carbs at night was actually detrimental to your body composition or if it was all broscience.

So where did this ‘no carbs at night’ thing come from?
In order to properly asses this fitness ‘fact’ we need to understand why limiting carbs at night is recommended in the first place. Most ‘experts’ who recommend limiting carbs at night do so because their assertion is since you will be going to sleep soon, your metabolism will slow down and those carbohydrates will have a greater chance at being stored as fat compared to if they were consumed earlier in the day where they would have a greater probability of being burned. Seems reasonable, but broscience always ‘sounds’ reasonable. They also often assert that insulin sensitivity is reduced at night, shifting your carb storing directionality towards fat and away from muscle.

Let’s tackle the issue of metabolic rate slowing down at night time first. The logic behind this theory seems reasonable enough: you lie down in a bed and don’t really move, just sleep, so obviously you are burning less calories than if you are awake doing stuff, even if you are just sitting in a chair or couch resting, you have to burn more calories than just sleeping right? At first glance this seems to jive with work from Katoyose et al. which showed that energy expenditure decreased during the first half of sleep approximately 35% (1). However, these researchers did show that during the latter half of sleep energy expenditure significantly increased associated with REM sleep. So, there are rises and falls in sleeping metabolic rate (SMR), but what is the overall effect? Interestingly, at the very least it does not appear that the average overall energy expenditure during sleep is any different than resting metabolic rate (RMR) during the day (2, 3). Additionally, it appears that exercise increases sleeping metabolic rate significantly leading to greater fat oxidation during sleep (4). This seems to be in line with data from Zhang et al. which demonstrated that obese individuals had sleeping metabolic rates lower than their resting metabolic rates, whereas lean individuals had sleeping metabolic rates significantly greater than their resting metabolic rate (3). So unless you are obese, not only does your metabolism NOT slow down during sleep, it actually increases! The idea that you should avoid carbs at night because your metabolism slows down and you won’t ‘burn them off’ definitely doesn’t pass the litmus test.

So the whole ‘don’t eat carbs at night’ thing is definitely broscience right?
So far, the fear of carbs at night certainly smells like broscience, but before we render a verdict, let’s examine things further. There is also the issue of insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance to address. This is where things get interesting. Compared to morning meals, levels of blood glucose and blood insulin definitely remain elevated longer with evening meals (5, 6). Ah ha! There it is, proof, that you shouldn’t consume carbs at night right? Not so fast. Though insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance appear to be worse at night compared to a morning meal, it is important to keep in mind that a morning meal is after an overnight fast and the fast may improve insulin sensitivity. Perhaps a more fair comparison is a mid day meal vs. a night time meal. In this case there is actually no difference in insulin sensitivity or glucose tolerance (5). Therefore, it appears that insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance are not necessarily impaired and night, but rather are merely enhanced by an overnight fast.

Does any of this science mumbo jumbo actually make a difference?
While it is great to talk about mechanisms and nitpick every intricate detail about metabolism, at the end of the day, we have to examine whether or not any of this stuff makes any difference. Fortunately for us, a recent study published in the Journal of Obesity examined this very question (7). These researchers from Israel put people on a calorically restricted diet for 6 months and split them into two groups, a control group and an experimental group. Each group consumed the same amount of calories, protein, carbohydrates, and fat but they distributed their carbohydrate intake very differently. One group (control) ate carbs throughout the day, whereas the experimental group consumed the majority of their carbohydrate intake (approximately 80% of the total) at the night. What they found after 6 months may shock you. Not only did the experimental group consuming the majority of their carbs at night lose significantly more weight and bodyfat than the control group, they also were better satiety and less hunger!

Whoa hold up… less hunger? I don’t buy it.
You heard me right, they were less hungry. Now I’m sure all of you that have been following typical fitness protocols where you eat 6 times per day and have most of your carbs earlier in the day are thinking “man if I went more than 2-3 hours without carbs I’d be starving!” Well my friends you are buying into a vicious cycle I’m afraid. Let me explain: when you eat small amount of carbs frequently you are basically titrating in glucose to your system. To dispose of this glucose your body releases insulin to drive blood glucose into cells. Over-secretion of insulin however may cause hunger to rise (typically about 2-3 hours post meal, the approximate time course of an insulin response), but no problem, you are eating every 2-3 hours anyway right? Just titrate in some more glucose. Unfortunately this makes you crave and consume glucose like clockwork and tricks many people into thinking that they NEED carbs every 2-3 hours or they would be hungry when in fact the opposite is true. If you ate carbs less frequently with further time between carb dosings, you would be less hungry because your own body would ramp up systems that deal with endogenous glucose production, and keep your blood glucose steady. When you consume carbs every 2-3 hours however this system of glucose production (gluconeogenesis) becomes chronically down regulated and you must rely on exogenous carb intake to maintain your blood glucose levels. Now if you transition from eating carbs every 2-3 hours to further apart for the first few days you may be hungry until your body has adjusted to using gluconeogenesis to maintain blood glucose rather than just eating carbs every 2-3 hours, but once you do adjust, you will find that you are far less hungry. Bringing things full circle, this is exactly what the researchers found! These subjects were hungrier in the first week of the diet compared to 90 and 180 days into the diet where they were much more satiated.

So what’s the explanation for the night time carb group losing more body fat and being more satiated than the control group (maybe we should call them the ‘bro’ group)? The researchers postulated that more favorable shifts in hormones may be the difference. The baseline insulin values in the experimental group eating the majority of carbs at night were significantly lower than those eating carbs during the day (7). So much for carbs at night decreasing insulin sensitivity huh? Additionally, the experimental group had much higher levels of adiponectin, a hormone associated with increased insulin sensitivity and fat burning. They also had a trend for slightly higher leptin levels. Furthermore, the night time carb munchers had lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and higher levels of HDL (good) Cholesterol. Overall the people eating the majority of their carbs at night lost more bodyfat and had better markers of health by the end of the study than those who ate more of their carbs during the day time.

So what’s the verdict?
I am not ready to say that we should all be eating the majority of our carbs at night. I would like to see this study repeated but with a bolus amount of carbs eaten at one meal in the morning to properly compare it to the single high carb meal at night, whereas the previous study compared a bolus night time carb meal vs. several feedings of carbs throughout the day. It may very well be that the beneficial effects of the diet in this study was more associated with limiting carb dosing (and insulin secretion) to a single bolus rather than spreading them throughout the day. However, I think what can be said with relative certainly is the notion that consuming carbohydrates at night will lead to more fat gain, or impair fat loss compared to consuming them at other times of the day. So write it down “Don’t eat carbs at night bro” has officially been BUSTED as BROSCIENCE!

Article taken from Broscience.

FAT VS. MUSCLE

For those of you who are still putting more emphasis on the number on the SCALE and not your overall progress: STOP.

I often get requests for exercises that tone, but from people who don’t want to gain muscle. It doesn’t work that way. Toning IS gaining muscle. But gaining muscle does not mean gaining size. Many women have an unnatural fear of the word gain so the marketing world uses words like toning, tightening, flattening, slimming, shave inches etc. ALL of these words mean gaining muscle & losing fat.

Muscle is more dense than fat: pound for pound it takes up less room. You can lose fat & inches without the scale moving. You can get the body you want without losing weight.
The purpose of this photo is to visually demonstrate why the scale doesn’t matter if you’re training hard & SEEING results. If you feel like your balloon gets busted each and every time you step on the scale, you NEED to change the way you think/feel about it or give it up all together. The scale can be a valuable tool to check in on your progress when you’ve got loads of weight to lose, but beyond that it doesn’t tell the whole story and should not be your ultimate goal.

In other words, at the end of the day, the numbers do NOT matter. Decide whether or not you want the body (yay) OR the number (boo). The two don’t always coincide.

Taken from Fit Villains.

RIPPED IN 30

Yesterday I started a new workout program. I love going to the gym and lifting heavy, and I loved doing the LiveFit trainer, but right now I need a program that will fit into my kickboxing schedule and traveling with work. So, I did a bit of research and you know me, I always love a bit of Jillian Michaels. I loved her 30-day shred program, which together with running, helped me lose my last 15 kg/33 pounds on my weight loss journey. No gym. Just running with Murphy and 30-day shred. And not long ago she came out with a newer, similar version called Ripped in 30, so I figured I’d give it a go.

She has divided each weekly program into 3 circuits and it’s 3 divisions into each circuit: 3 min strength, 2 min cardio and 1 min abs. There’s 4 weeks of different workout programs and they get harder and harder as the weeks go by. So, I started week 1 yesterday and man did I sweat! I like to consider myself as pretty fit by now and have good cardio ability, but because most of the moves are combo moves (i.e. one sequence incorporates more than one movement, for example squat and then dumbbell shoulder press, or lunge with dumbell biceps curl, etc.) my heart rate was really high at the same time as I was working resistance. And there is no rest for 30 min. Hence the sweating! And the sore buttocks!

Think I will really like Ripped in 30. I like week 1 program so far anyway. Good start! There is a meal plan with this program as well, if you’re interested, but I already have a good diet so don’t feel I need it.

LOW CARB FLOUR

Here’s a hot tip for all you out there who want to keep the carbs down but still love to bake and cook and then enjoy it guilt free. Although oat flour is high in protein you might want to keep the carbs even lower right before bed. In this case you can either grind almonds yourself or go and buy some almond flour. Almond flour doesn’t react the same way as other regular flours when cooking so you’ll need to experiment, but the taste is lovely. Try to keep it organic though as almonds in general are heavily sprayed with pesticides.
My almond flour is bought at the Life stores in Sweden.

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STEVIA SWEETENS PROTEIN

It’s been a couple of weeks now since I got my huge container of Whey 100% protein from Self Omninutrition. It’s a breakthrough on the Swedish market as it is sweetened with Stevia instead of other artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sackarin. What makes Stevia such a good sweetener? Well, for starters it’s made out of a bunch of herbs and plants, which makes it a natural sweetener instead of artificial, and natural without any calories. Stevia’s extract is about 300 times sweeter than sugar so you don’t need to use that much in order to get the sugary taste. And it has no effect on your blood sugar. If you want to know more about Stevia, search online or go to Wikipedia.

When it comes to the whey protein powder itself, I must say I am surprisingly happy with the product. It’s the finest protein isolate powder, low carb and low lactose, which makes it very gentle on your stomach when digested. I got the chocolate flavour and it tastes lovely. I’ve tried it with only water or milk and both mixes are deliciously yummy. It foams quiet a bit when shaken, but it doesn’t bother me at all. On the contrary, it reminds me of milkshake. Haha! And I do prefer a more natural product anyway than one loaded with additives.

I think Self Omninutrition has managed to produce a high quality product that is not only naturally sweetened but also manufactured with milk from cows that haven’t been pumped full of hormones, which in turn means I don’t have to ingest any additional hormones. That makes me well happy! For those who know me, I am an advocate for organic products as far as I can take it, but especially when it comes to dairy as our poor factory cows are treated with hormones to grow faster and bigger for a quicker buck, which makes them sick and in addition have to be treated with antibiotics. I feel very strongly about this subject and I hope consumers around the world start questioning the non-organic dairy products, do their research on the facts and make their stand by only buying organic dairy. Enough said. 🙂

I recommend this whey protein isolate by Self Omninutrition. Try it and you won’t be disappointed!

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LIVEFIT UPDATE

Lately, I haven’t been able to update how the LiveFit trainer by Jamie Eason is going for me. I can tell you that after week 5 I was looking and feeling much more toned in muscle definition than what I usually am and I was getting stronger too, however with traveling to London and soon beginning the travels with work, my LiveFit trainer experience will have to come to an end… this time anyway. I need to find something which is better suited for my lifestyle at the moment and that I can incorporate easier to my other workout schedule, kickboxing and instructing my gym classes. I’ll let you know what I decide so I can bring you along on my trip. If you have suggestions I’d love to hear them. 🙂

THANK YOU!

“Today, be grateful. Be grateful for your favorite music, for movies that make you feel good, for your phone that connects you with people, for your computer, and for the electricity that lights up your life. Be grateful for air travel that flies you everywhere. Be grateful for the roads and traffic lights that keep the traffic in order. Be grateful to those who built our bridges. Be grateful for your pet, for your child, for your loved ones, for your eyes that enable you to read this. Be grateful for your imagination. Be grateful that you can think. Be grateful that you can speak. Be grateful that you can laugh and smile. Be grateful that you can breathe. Be grateful that you are alive! Be grateful that you are You!

Be grateful that there are two words that can change your life.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”

From The Secret Daily Teachings by Rhonda Byrne

TOP 10 FEMALE TRAINING QUESTIONS

“The female body. Why is there so much confusion when it comes to building the ideal female body? Perhaps it is because many fitness professionals are just as confused as their clients. Should you use female specific programs, or just grab a program out of Men’s Health? And where does resistance training come into the picture? Is cardio better then lifting weights when trying to drop a pant size?

As an educated fitness professional, you are in the perfect position to clear up the confusion. It is no surprise that most women are not content with their bodies. They hear celebrities claim that lifting light weights is how they stay thin. Women see advertisements showing thin yogis saying that Pilates and yoga will give them the “long” and “lean” muscles that are so desirable. Then they read magazines stating that cardio is the only way to burn those extra pounds hanging around the mid-section. But what does research say about this dilemma? The solution goes by many names: resistance training, lifting weights, strength training. Whatever you choose to call it, one thing is for sure: it works.

Let’s look at the 10 most common strength training questions asked by female clients, so you’ll be ready to answer them when they inevitably arise.”

Read full article at PTonthenet.

LOVE THOSE LUNGES

Living my life in 250 km/hr today. Got up real early so I could have a refreashing -12 degree walk with Murphy. Then off to the gym where I completely murdered my legs. One of my favourite exercises at the moment are walking lunges! Looove them! Haha. Then the nanny was back, had a 3-year old to run around with all day, including join in at her dance class. Then rush off to get pummeled at a Kickboxing session where we practiced falling and swiping each other. Bruises developing as I write. And to finish off this lovely action-packed day, I instructed a fast, fun-filled IndoorWalking class. After today, my legs don’t know whether to come or go. “The Tina Turner-walk” tomorrow for sure!
Now, lights out! Nite nite.