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Increase energy through exercise

Increase energy through exercise

Being hungry is a lack of energy.  But this is just a sign that we need to move around and start foraging.  Most of us do not even feel hungry when we have breakfast, it is just something we feel we should do to keep us going. Often if we eat at this time, it can lead to a large amount of a hormone called insulin being released to deal with the glucose from the food we are eating.  This may be followed by a corresponding blood sugar dip as glucose is packed away in the cells.

Bursts of energy

So what we can we do to get some energy?  From the minute we move, our muscles do not need insulin to provide energy anymore. Theoretically we can bomb down the road as fast as possible for a hundred metres or run and hurl ourselves over the nearest fence, without even needing to breathe!  This is a very quick reaction using  an energy system known as our creatine-phosphate system, typically used by sprinters, weight lifters or high jumpers. Because it is not a very efficient system we can only  keep it up for about eight to fifteen seconds.

High intensity

After about ten seconds, we can go a lot further using carbohydrate.  If we start to run at a high intensity, the point at which we are not able to speak any more, we use our anaerobic energy metabolism.  This means we are creating energy without the need of oxygen which takes a while to get round the body. This mechanism is employed by non-endurance athletes to build up speed and strength.  The more intensely muscles have to work, the more they have to use the anaerobic route.  Constant contractions mean that oxygenated blood cannot get to the muscles.

Low intensity

Running at a lower intensity means that our aerobic carbohydrate metabolism kicks in and we need to use oxygen. This involves the mitochondria which are the power houses of our muscle cells and typically each one has a thousand of them.  The length of time we can keep going at this pace all depends on the body’s stores of glycogen which is our glucose store.  On average glycogen stocks can last for up to ninety minutes although with untrained people, these can dwindle faster.  If we keep on going then we will start to burn fat.

Whilst from the time we set off all energy metabolisms are working together at once, but one will dominate.  The body really has to feel the need to use fat and so the enzymes that produce the burning of fat are only active when there is no other choice.  This is why marathon runners have to train to do the long runs, to teach the body to switch from a predominantly aerobic metabolism to a fat-burning one.

Good times and bad times

When exercise was the basis of survival and hunter gatherer populations would move long distances to hunt for food.  They were able to do this because once muscles are active they do not need to rely on glucose coming in from the diet.  At times they would have been able to top up their glycogen and rely on this.  But at others, the coffers will have been verging on empty and this is perfectly normal.  It sends a message to the mitochondria to tell them they need to be more energy efficient and increase in number. The more our cells register there are good times and bad, the more effective this system becomes and the better we are at regulating our energy production.  We can help this by moving on empty and varying the type of exercise we do.

Should you eat before a workout

Should you eat before a workout

We are told that we should eat before a workout because if we are hungry, we won’t have enough energy to move. But is this really the case? Your genes belong to an era 50 000 years ago which was a time when your ancient ancestors did not have the luxury of food availability – hunger was a signal to move and find food.

Eating before a workout

When we eat, protein, fat and carbohydrate is broken down to glucose and a hormone called insulin is produced to pack this energy into the cells.  With this system, we produce one molecule of chemical energy (adenosine tri-phosphate) out of one molecule of glucose – not a particularly energy efficient system. But from the minute we move our muscles do not necessarily need energy from food or the insulin system anymore. New science is showing us that in order to be energy-efficient during different workouts, from high intensity to low intensity, we need to be metabolically flexible.  Being metabolically flexible means that our body can access different energy systems according to need – making us much more resilient. And we don’t necessarily need food to provide with the energy to move.

Not eating before a workout

If your workout involves High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), there isn’t time for oxygen to get round your body and you cannot sustain your activity for too long.  This is because you only produce two molecules of chemical energy (adenosine tri-phospate)  from one molecule of glucose.  But you are using carbohydrate and at the same time increasing your fat-burn potential as well as producing lactic acid which can be taken up into the brain and converted into energy.

If you want to train at a lower intensity, oxygen gets around to your organs and tissues and you can keep going for longer using your stored carbohydrate, glycogen. The length of time you can keep going at this pace all depends on your glycogen and your capacity to produce glucose from it. Typically the average person can keep going on this system for up to sixty to ninety minutes.

Then if you want to fully engage in endurance activity, rather than topping up your carbohydrate stores with food or gels, by moving on empty your body can shift into fat burning mode by tapping into your fat stores.  And the fantastic news about fat burning is that with one molecule of fat you can produce a whopping hundred and twenty-nine molecules of chemical energy! And fat burns more cleanly than carbohydrate which means you produce fewer damage-inducing free radicals.

Moving on empty

On The In-Sync Diet 6 Step Plan, we recommend you do your exercise on empty to develop metabolic flexibility:

  • Avoid snacking between meals because your body will get too used to the constant top-ups of sugar and you will never switch into burning fat.
  • Whenever possible, have an overnight fast of 12 hours or more. This means if you have your last meal at 7pm you should not eat again until 7 am the next day.
  • Do some HIIT training three times per week for around twenty minutes and twice per week some lower intensity endurance exercise for around an hour. All should be done on an empty stomach.
  • Rather than being a carb junkie, have some protein within sixty minutes of the end of your workout to ensure muscle repair.


By moving on empty i.e. not eating before a workout, you are training yourself to be more energy efficient and resilient.  Being more resilient means that you will find events where you are required to do different types of activity, such as triathlons, less demanding. And don’t forget, this is an evolutionary survival mechanism you have inherited from your ancestors.  It enabled them to be able to cope with periods of famine when they were not able to find food.


A fit body is not just for the beach

A fit body is not just for the beach

A fit body is for life, not just the beach.  If you have ever embarked on a dramatic weight loss diet to prepare for your beach holiday, you will know how difficult it is to keep that weight off.  Once you are away, you allow yourself to indulge. When you come back you find that the weight has come creeping back.  It feels completely unfair but when you look at what happens to your body on a ‘get skinny quickly’ programme, you will understand a fit body is for life, not just the beach.

Crash diets

Many people believe the way to lose weight is through crash dieting. Crash dieting means that you go on a low-calorie diet for a short period of time to shed weight.  A low calorie diet is one where you reduce the amount of calories you eat on a daily basis so your body is forced to breakdown tissue – muscle or fat – to provide your body with the energy it needs.  There are a number of problems associated with this ‘get slim quick’ method of shifting the pounds.  So here is The In-Sync Diet’s advice on how to have a fit body for life:

  1. Don’t crash diet if you want to stay slim and toned in the long term.  Often people want a quick fix where weight loss is concerned.  They drastically reduce their calories and as a result, lose muscle instead. This is because it is easier when energy is in short supply to use muscle as an energy source.  But really you want to keep hold of as you can because it will keep you burning fat long after your holiday.
  2. The smallest changes can make the biggest difference. Gradual changes over time can ensure that rather than yo-yo dieting, you are able to achieve sustainable fat burn over a number of months if you wish.
  3. Losing weight by making extreme changes to your normal diet will cause your metabolism to drop. Contrary to what many people think, your metabolism is not something you are born with that never changes. Eating well at mealtimes and exercising are both things that will keep your metabolism high.  But strict dieting will eventually cause it to drop because your brain wants to make sure there is still lots of energy coming into your body.
  4. Eating a thousand calories of broccoli is not the same as eating 1000 calories of ice cream. There are a number of vitamins and minerals you need to get from your food each day to keep feeling well and full of vitality as well as able to burn fat so focus on the foods that give you the most nourishment.
  5. Ditch the calorie counting. Calorie counting does not work and forces you to have an unnatural relationship with the food you are eating.
  6. If you don’t use muscle you lose it. The In-Sync Diet incorporates different types of exercise into a fat burn programme to make sure that you stay fit and healthy long after your holiday is over.
How to live longer and have more energy

How to live longer and have more energy

Whilst genes can load the gun when it comes to your health, lifestyle pulls the trigger. It is never too  late to make a few simple changes to your daily habits that can mean that you live a longer, healthier  life.

Learning from those who live longest

In Okinawa in Japan, where there are a high number of centenarians, women and men maintain an  extremely active lifestyle and may work until they are well into their 90’s. And in Northern Japan  whilst the men are in the fields or at sea, it is typically the older women who maintain the weaving  tradition that has survived as a cottage industry because of their hard work and dedication.  Both sexes are considered to be excellent examples of what it is to ‘age successfully’ because they  tend to avoid disease and disability, they maintain a high level of physical and cognitive function and they sustain an engagement in social and productive activities.

Set yourself goals

So you may be considering retirement but there is no reason why you need to sit back in your chair  and remove yourself from the world around you. Now is your time to set goals and become the  world-beating champion you have always wanted to be.

Keep fit with mini-workouts

Mini workouts are important throughout the day, whether it is running for the bus legging it up the stairs – you need to maintain a high level of activity. Don’t think just because you go to the gym three times a week that this can compensate for being sedentary the rest of the time because it won’t. And staying active within a club has the added bonus of being able to connect with other like-minded people who have the same goals as you.

Switch to nutrient-dense delicious meals at set times

Caloric restriction is another practice that is a guaranteed anti-ageing intervention. Dietary restriction produces changes in gene expression that can help prevent many diseases associated with getting older such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. But just because dramatically reducing your calories has been shown to extend lifespan it this does not mean you need to embark on a low-calorie diet for an extended period of time. Instead it is far better to reduce your meal frequency to two or three meals per day and ensure you are eating a nutrient dense diet rich in healthy protein, fats and carbohydrates from vegetables.

Make sure you’re getting your anti-oxidents

A nutrient dense diet will ensure you are consuming foods rich in antioxidants to help combat free radical damage that is implicated in the age-related chronic disease process. Health protective anti-oxidants can successfully delay disease and dysfunction and help you to maintain function well into your old age. And let’s not forget, it is so much easier slow down ageing than it is to treat disease and nutrient dense foods are your best medicine.

Evolutionary eating

The In-Sync Diet promotes evolutionary eating based on traditional foods that have an anti-inflammatory effect. We offer a plant-based diet rich in healthy protein and fats that are important as you age to ward off conditions associated with inflammation and will improve your energy levels and mood too. All in all, by eating nutrient dense diet, keeping mobile and taking part in social activities, you can retain your vitality and independence well into your senior years.

The Beer Belly Diet: How to Lose Visceral Fat

The Beer Belly Diet: How to Lose Visceral Fat

A ‘beer belly’ is the term given to the accumulation of excessive fat around the middle that men seem to be more prone to. While beer is definitely a contributing factor, it is not the only reason why some men can gain those unwanted spare tyres.

What is visceral fat?

As we get older, the metabolism can slow down and we become more sedentary. Rather than burning fat we become more prone to accumulation of fat around the midriff and this is known as visceral fat. Visceral fat is deep fat below the skin in the abdominal space where vital organs such as your liver, pancreas and kidneys reside.

Is visceral fat dangerous?

Visceral fat is also known as ‘dangerous fat’ because it can cause chronic inflammation. This happens when the fat cells in your abdominal cavity get too full and start to spill their contents attacking your immune system. Chronic inflammation is at the root of many chronic diseases such as type II diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disease and cardiovascular disease.
Not only that, fat can start to accumulate in other organs of the body too. A beer belly could be a sign that you are beginning to collect fat in your liver and even in your heart. When organs contain too much fat, they are not able to function properly. A layer of fat around the heart is believed to be a contributing factor in the narrowing of arteries. You may therefore have symptoms of heart disease if you have high visceral fat but not even realise it.

Does beer cause a beer belly?

Most alcoholic drinks, bar spirits, can cause unwanted weight gain around the middle because of their high sugar content. By the same token, so can foods that are high in sugar or starchy carbs. These include sugary desserts, cakes and pastries, pasta and potatoes. A diet high in sugar coupled with a sedentary job means that the appearance of the dreaded beer belly can be almost inevitable.

The beer belly diet: 5 tips for losing visceral fat

Here are our top five tips for how to lose visceral fat and restore your abs once more:

  • Evaluate your alcohol consumption
    You may need to rethink your tipple of choice for a while and move away from the beer to something less sugary. If you chose a spirit such as vodka, be careful what you mix it with as mixers can be too sugary themselves. Instead go for a squirt of lime juice and soda.
  • Ditch the grains
    Take out grains from your diet because they are prone to causing inflammation and increase your vegetable intake instead. Vegetables are nutrient dense carbohydrates that will support your waistline too.
  • Set meal times
    Aim to get some gaps in between your meals because that is when you will be burning fat.
  • Drink when you’re thirsty
    Make sure you hydrate well when you are thirsty and not before. That way your cells will hydrate more, function better and be less likely to store fat.
  • Keep active
    Don’t allow yourself to sit for too long. Set an alarm to take a break from your desk every forty five minutes.

The In-Sync Diet uses an evolutionary approach to weight management – perfect for getting rid of your beer belly. It incorporates all the secrets of your ancestors to help you to burn fat and stay lean and toned. By following our 9.5 week programme, you can start to feel fantastic, get heart-healthy and maximise fat burning without counting calories.

Find out more and start your plan today.

How to lose weight on holiday

How to lose weight on holiday

You have been working hard getting bikini-ready by losing weight and you don’t want to succumb to bad habits whilst you are away or come back with an extra tyre around your middle. The good news is there is plenty you can do to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle and still enjoy your hard earned holiday.

If you’re worried about un-doing all your pre-holiday hard work, try our 8 ways to lose weight on holiday

  1. Don’t be tempted by airport snacks
    Airports and ferries can mean spending long interminable hours waiting around until you reach your destination. And there is often little to do but to snack on whatever catches your eye. Rather than eating little and often it is better to save yourself for a good slap-up meal that leaves you satisfied and you can sit and properly enjoy. Then don’t eat again until you arrive.
  2. Keep Hydrated
    Make sure you stay well hydrated if you are spending time in the hot sun, particularly if you have been partaking of the local brew the night before. Drink plenty of water when you first wake up and again when you feel a thirst coming on. Your body will therefore be able to maintain its vital functioning and you will be less likely to accumulate unwanted fat.
  3. Save alcohol as a special treat
    Drinking alcohol in the hot sun will dehydrate you and make you tired. Chances are it will also cause unwanted weight gain too. Aim to only drink alcohol with your evening meal. Alternatively if you do have that glass of rose during the day, have plenty of water before and afterwards.
  4. Get exploring
    Spend the most part of your day being active and try to avoid being rooted to the spot on your sun lounger for too long. Walk as much as you can and take the stairs rather than the lift. Hire a bike and take a tour of the local area and put on your dancing shoes in the evening.
  5. Keep an eye on your meals
    No need to avoid the hotel buffet, just reduce your meals to three or possibly two per day. You might get up and have a good breakfast and then not need to eat until you have dinner in the evening. Alternatively have a lighter breakfast and lunch and enjoy a more substantial meal in the evening.
  6. Don’t dodge full-fat
    Contrary to what you may have been told, eating plenty of healthy fat can be very useful to help you manage your weight. Go for a full-fat yoghurt at breakfast, enjoy an olive oil dressing on your salad at lunch and eat your evening vegetables Mediterranean-style gently cooked in olive oil in the evening.
  7. Treat yourself once in a while
    Don’t feel you need to deny yourself because that can lead to uncontrolled eating. Make sensible food choices at mealtimes, opting for the seasonal dishes that are on offer. If you do fancy a treat, just include it as part of your meal once per day.
  8. Try the local cuisine
    Enjoy what the local cuisine has to offer by trying their salads, vegetables and seafood. Avoid fast food options and sugary drinks including cocktails and spirit mixers.