Cycling For Beginners

Listed below are a few cycling tips I personally followed as a beginner or wished someone had told me sooner than later. This post is aimed solely for beginners and enthusiasts who have started cycling recently. I’ve tried to cover some of the most common pitfalls of getting into riding, but haven’t forgotten that the best thing about cycling is that it’s fun and easier on your joints.

In the words of the great Eddy Merckx — the legendary Belgian ex-pro cyclist who won 11 Grand Tours, including five Tour de France: “Ride as much or as little, as long or as short as you feel. But ride.”

1. Choosing the Right Bike

The first and most important thing to determine before buying a bike is the purpose of getting one and the terrain it’s going to be ridden on. Bikes are most broadly divided into 3 groups and we’ve provided a short summary below. However, you can also refer to our previous article for an in-depth analysis of ‘How To Choose The Perfect Bike For Yourself’.

Summary

TypesRoad BikesHybrid BikesMountain Bikes
Type of RoadMeant for paved roadsSome off-road MTB abilities mixed with a compromised road bike design for paved roadsMTBs are designed to be used on rough terrain ranging from unpaved roads, gravel paths and technical trails
Type of FrameLightweight aluminium frame and thin wheelsAluminium and steel frames with thin wheels, but thicker than a road bikeAluminium and steel frames with thick wheels and greater ground clearance
Handlebars and PostureDrop down handlebars and aggressive streamlined postureFlat handlebars for comfort and ergonomic posture
Straight handlebars with a front as well as rear suspension with a straight or aggressive posture depending on type of ride
Average SpeedAverage speeds on 25 – 35 km/hAverage speeds on 18 – 25 km/hAverage speeds on 10 -12 km/h on trails and upto 20km/h on paved roads
RecommendationsIdeal for people who want to discover speed or athletes who want intense cardiovascular exerciseIdeal for beginner cyclists or users who are looking at cycles to go on excursions exploring the city or countrysideIdeal for beginner cyclists thanks to its hardiness and all-terrain credentials or for individuals who want to cycle on trails
*Note : City cycles are not a part of this table since they’re mainly meant for commute and not for regular or leisure riding.
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2. Cycling Core Gear (For Short Rides upto 1 hour)

As far as apparel choices are concerned, there is a huge range of cycling clothing out there ranging from easily affordable to insanely expensive choices. But we’re going to list down a few must-haves for you to ensure a comfortable and joyful ride.

1. Padded Shorts

The main purposes of padded shorts is to protect and cushion the bottom and genitals from the pressure of the body on the saddle, and to cushion the sit bones. Massively padded saddles won’t help you on longer rides (ouch!). The only way to be comfortable in the saddle is to wear padded shorts, fit a decent saddle and ride until you get used to it.

For those who haven’t heard or used these before and are wondering if you should be wearing any undergarments below these shorts, then the answer is NO. You do not wear underwear under padded bike shorts. The pad is designed to sit next to the skin.

2. Cycling Helmet

Things to keep in mind before you select a Bicycle Helmet:

  1. First thing first, please do not compromise on the quality. Wear a cheap helmet is equivalent of wearing a plastic cap. It will not help in any way during a mishap.
  2. The helmets are unisex and can be used by both men as well as women. Although one can always choose a preferred color.
  3. Buy the correct size of the helmet for your head. One can check the helmet size as per the image below.
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3. Rear and Front LED Safety Lights

Bike lights are a non-negotiable for any ride. Front lights may not be necessary if you don’t plan to bicycle in the dark however, rear lights cannot be compromised with, be it day or night. At the same time, wearing reflective clothes or a reflective jacket is also a great idea.

You can choose amidst a range of really nice looking fancy lights, which can be attached to the back of the seat or to the wheel itself.

4. Cycling Sunglasses

They don’t need to cost the earth or make you look stupid, but they will keep your eyes protected from bugs, stones, sun and rain. Some versions feature interchangeable lenses, so, if you can, get one lens for bright conditions and one for dull, wet days.

5. Medical Contact Card/Identity Card

You can never be too precautious when on the road. As careful as we are and hope it never comes to this, but always carry your identity card or medical card in case needed during any kind of duress or emergency. It may be very crucial to obtain your vital information in case of mishaps.

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6. A Bike Lock

It is important to note that a good bike lock is usually available for sale separately and never included while buying the bike itself. It becomes important to carry a lock especially if you plan to take breaks between your ride to enjoy the scenery around or just park it in your garage or workplace if you use it for commute.

7. A Mobile Phone (With/Without A Phone Mount)

You might have come across some professional or big time cycling enthusiasts who prefer using a cycle computer or have a speedometer attached to track live data. Well, if you don’t want to spend that extra money on those pricey accessories, you can simply invest in a good and sturdy phone mount. There are various apps that help you track live speed.

If you’re not someone who wants excessive data, you can also just use an armband or a safe pocket to store your phone in. Needless to say, it’ll not only help you with maps and commute but also ensure communication and empower you to call for help during emergencies, accidents or flat tyres.

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Are Masks Safe To Wear While Working Out?

Popular opinion is that a mask poses a lot of discomfort even while not exerting oneself, wearing one while working out can be even harder. To put all your doubts to rest, we consulted with care.fit pulmonologist, Dr. Manish Sahu.

The early days of the new normal were difficult for everyone. Wearing a mask has been the biggest change that we have had to adapt to. We’ve come a long way since then, adding masks to colour coordinate with our OOTDs and even to bridal ensembles.

The question is, do we add it to our workout gear? Let’s find out.

But, first let’s clarify the biggest misconception about masks –They interfere with the concentration of oxygen when we breathe

In truth, the concentration of oxygen that is available to a person without a mask vs with a mask on does not change. The pores of the mask are large enough to allow oxygen to come through. The only reason you feel uncomfortable is because you’re not used to wearing a mask. In fact, it is the airflow – volume of air one inhales and exhales – that gets affected when you wear a mask. 

Now back to the main question – do you need to wear a mask while working out?

The short answer, yes!

Strong exhalations during a workout help to regulate body temperature. Also, natural actions such as coughing or sneezing are hard to control. As a result we may spit droplets. A mask prevents these aerosols from circulating and thus makes the gym safe for you and for everyone. 

So, what kind of mask should you wear while working out? 

There are a large variety of face masks in a variety of materials.  It is recommended to wear a 2- or 3-ply cotton mask or even a single use mask. Do not wear N95 masks.

So, a light or moderate workout (like walking) with a fabric mask or even a single use mask, is no problem at all! Keep in mind that these masks can get wet because of sweat, so, keep a change handy. 

 It is not recommended to do vigorous exercises with a mask on. 

This is because while doing vigorous exercises air regulation through the mouth is less thereby impacting the regulation of body temperature.

What to do if you are working out alone at the gym? 

Well, even then, your mask should be on because asymptomatic carriers of covid are a great risk of spreading the virus. Why risk an infection, right?

Is there anyone who shouldn’t wear a mask?

People with chronic respiratory and cardiac problems should not use mask while exercising. They should workout at home  alone.

What about face visors? 

Face visors are an additional layer of protection and in no way a replacement for masks.  They alone are not sufficient. They provide insufficient protection against floating, infected droplets. They aren’t sealed and allow air to enter one’s nostrils and mouth. Use them if you must, but, never without a mask.

Lastly,  sanitise diligently, maintain social distancing at all times, and wear the right mask – all of which will ensure that you, and everyone you’re working out with are safe. Don’t forget to clean your masks every day to ensure maximum safety!

Disclaimer : I do not own this article. This article was originally published here. It was insightful and I felt like sharing it with the readers on this page. I should also tell you that I have been a member of Cult.Fit for almost a year now and use their gyms regularly.

A New Year Resolution to Reduce Weight and Lose Fat? Here’s Everything You Need to Know!

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We all know about fat. Fat is bad, right? We need to lose it to be fit and healthy. Well, not quite. In fact, fat (in the right amount) is essential  for leading a healthy life. The problem lies in having too much or too little. That’s where body fat percentage comes in. So what is the truth about body fat, how can we calculate it, and what does it have to do with living healthy? Read on to find out.

What is body fat percentage and why is it important?

To understand why body fat percentage is important, we first need to understand what it is. Our bodies are composed of many different components — muscles, bones, body water, organs, and of course, fat. 

Fat percentage is the ratio of fat in relation to those other components. 

Now, although fat gets a bad reputation, it is essential for many of our body functions. It helps maintain life and reproductive functions, and the accumulation of adipose tissue from stored fat helps cushion and protect the organs in your chest and abdomen. So having accumulated fat is important, but like everything in life, you need to maintain a balance. That’s why calculating body fat percentage is so important in identifying your health — having a body fat percentage that is too high or too low can indicate certain health risks.

How do we calculate body fat percentage?

There are several methods to calculate this. Here are some of the most common:

  • Calipers — It’s based on the idea that about 50% of total body fat lies under that skin, and involves measuring the thickness of skinfolds at standardized sizes. It is also known as the Skinfold Method
  • Body Mass Index (BMI) — This is a value derived from the weight and height of a person; a simple numeric measure of a person’s thinness and thickness. Having a numeric value allows health professionals to discuss weight problems more objectively with their patients. Read here, why BMI is not an adequate measure to record fitness.
  • Dual x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) — Uses X-rays to scan and measure whole-body bone mass and soft tissue composition, and is the preferred method for identifying bone and body composition
  • Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) — Uses an imperceptible electrical current to measure body composition. Body fat (adipose tissue) causes greater resistance and slows the rate at which the current travels through the body
  • Hydrostatic Weighing — an underwater weighing method based on on the Archimedes Principle. A person weighs themselves on land and underwater. The difference between the two values can help determine body density and fat percentage. Though this is considered one of the most accurate measurement methods, it requires a lot of resources and space and is therefore not the most feasible
  • US Department of Defence Method — Calculates body fat by using a person’s height as a constant and girth of neck and abdominal for male and neck, hip and waist for females

What does your body fat percentage tell you about your health?

Using any of the above methods can give you an idea of your body fat percentage, but the number alone doesn’t tell you much unless you know how to interpret it. Here’s what body fat percentage means according to the American Council on Exercise

DescriptionWomenMen
Essential Fat10-13%2-5%
Athletes14-20%6-13%
Fitness21-24%14-17%
Acceptable25-31%18-24%
Obesity>32%>25%

As you can see, the values differ for men and women, and there are further differences if you break these groups down by age. You may have noticed the term ‘essential fat’. This refers to the fat present in bone marrow, nerve tissues, and organs, and can’t be lost without compromising physiological functions. The chart above shows that women need to have higher essential fat percentages, as these fats are very important in maintaining hormonal balance and aiding and protecting the reproductive organs. 

How and when do these values help?

These numbers are useful in determining whether a person is underweight, at a normal weight, overweight, or obese, which can have a direct link to their health. Higher body fat percentage, for example, is linked to a myriad of health issues, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, insulin insensitivity, diabetes mellitus, and even certain types of cancer. If your body fat percentage is too low on the other hand, you’re at risk for anaemia, malnutrition, osteoporosis, low immunity, and, if you’re a woman, fertility issues. Knowing your body fat percentage can also give you an idea of how fit you are and what you need to do to work towards your fitness goals.

How to reduce body fat percentage:

You can reduce your body fat percentage by reducing your overall weight. There are many ways to do this in a healthy way — without going on a hunger strike! Try the following tactics:

  • Caloric deficit — consume fewer calories than you burn. Everything you eat is converted into fuel for your daily activities. When you consume more calories than you can burn, it’s stored as excess fat. You can prevent this with a caloric deficit of about 10-20%. Of course, this doesn’t mean you cut out all high-calorie foods from your diet. Remember that your body needs calories for day-to-day functions like muscle repair and sustained energy. You want to make sure you have the right kind of nutrients — proteins, carbs, and even fats —  in your diet to stay functioning throughout the day!
  • Exercise — focus on cardiovascular and resistance training. A low-calorie diet alone isn’t enough to reduce weight, it needs to be complemented by the right workout. Cardiovascular and resistance exercises are great for this because they help build and maintain lean muscle mass — which in turn reduces body fat. Weight training is particularly important in your fat loss journey because, when done properly, it creates a greater caloric expenditure than steady-state cardio. And don’t forget consistency is key in maintaining both muscle gain and weight loss.
  • Lose fat, not muscle — weight loss doesn’t necessarily mean loss of fat. Losing weight signifies a loss in total body mass, but this doesn’t mean you’re reducing your stored fat. Loss of lean muscle mass or less water retention can also result in weight loss. Keep in mind that you can only lose body fat by following a caloric deficit and a good training program. In fact, research shows that fat loss without sacrificing muscle is more effective when caloric deficit is achieved through training. Keep track of the calories you consume and the activities you do and find the right balance between the two. If you find your caloric intake is high and your activity level is low, look into increasing the level and frequency of the workouts. If you feel like you’re doing the right amount of exercise but are still taking in too many calories, it may be time to make some dietary changes. Choose wisely to make sure you’re not losing valuable muscle mass instead!

Some myths about fat loss

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about fats and fat loss which can cloud your understanding of how to maintain a healthy body fat percentage. So let’s take a second to clear the air.

  • Fat can convert to muscle and vice versa

Fat and muscle are different kinds of body tissues — one cannot turn into the other. When you exercise with a caloric deficit, the extra fat that is stored in the body is used for energy. You burn fat and build muscle. When you stop exercising, muscle doesn’t turn into fat, instead, it starts to atrophy and also slows down your metabolism.

  • You can reduce fat from a specific part of the body

The idea of spot reduction is one of the biggest weight loss myths out there. Whether you’re looking at excess fat around the belly or the arms, it is not possible to reduce the fat in one specific area. You need to work on overall fitness levels and fat loss to achieve that.

  • Doing only cardio will help you lose fat

Cardio definitely helps burn calories, but only while you’re exercising. Resistance and weight training on the other hand cause wear and tear in your muscles which your body will need to expend calories to repair. That means it burns calories even after your workout. An ideal combination of both will aid in fat loss and avoid loss of lean muscle mass. Resistance training is also better at burning through stored fat. Although a 20-30 minute cardio session will make you sweat, doing a more intensive or longer resistance training will use fat as the energy source rather than the glycogen storage.

  • Crash Diets will help

To lose weight or fat sustainably, you have to create habits, Sustainable weight loss or fat loss requires creating habits —  nutrition, workout, or lifestyle. While crash diets where you consume very low caloric meals may show quick results in the short term, they can in fact result in weight gain and muscle loss in the long term. Furthermore, fasting and diets are only safe when done under professional guidance.

  • Very low body fat % is good

A body fat percentage significantly below the recommended range can be fatal. Once the range reaches the essential fat level or lower, it could hamper the body’s physiological functions. It also depends on gender, age, exercise levels, and genetics. Some athletes, such as professional bodybuilders, may be recommended to have a low body fat percentage, but this is only for a very short time, usually for competitions.

  • You need to avoid foods containing fats for effective fat loss

Foods rich in fat are not necessarily evil. In fact, fats(good fats) are essential nutrients and should be part of a healthy nutrition plan. But because fats contain more calories per gram as compared to protein or carbohydrates, you need to keep an eye on how much you are consuming.

To sum it up

Body fat alone is not an indicator of health, although it is a main component. A person’s lifestyle, metabolism, and workout regime are other indicators that can provide a more holistic view of their health. That being said, body fat percentage is an easily quantifiable metric that can give you a good idea of what it will take to achieve your fitness goals. If nothing else, it’s a friendly benchmark for your weight loss journey!

Full Body Workout At Home – No Equipment

Amidst the outbreak of Corona Virus and the immediate shut down of public facilities including gyms, offices, etc. we’re moving to a very dormant, ‘work-from-home’ lifestyle. Nobody knows how long it’ll last. Hence, it is important to make sure you get your daily workout fix at home and stay in shape.

The best part is, anyone can do this workout at any time during the day and without any equipments. Here’s how the workout looks like :

The Workout

This workout is broken down into 4 parts – The Warm Up, Main Workout, Finisher, Cool Down.

Warm-up:

Do each move for 30 seconds. Do this warm-up twice.

  • Spot Jogging
  • Jumping jacks
  • Inchworm walk to shoulder tap
  • Squats

Circuit:

Do each move for 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds in between each move. Do the entire circuit twice.

  • Push-ups
  • Alternate Leg Forward Lunges
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Sprawls
  • Panther Shoulder Tap
  • Planks

Note – For additional intensity, one can increase the number of rounds to 3 or 4 or shift to a 45 second move – 15 second rest routine.

Finisher :

Do 1 rep of each, then 2 reps of each, then 3 reps, etc., and go as high as you can get in 3 minutes. 

  • Beast Load and Unload
  • Burpees

Cool-down:

Do each move for 30 seconds or longer if it feels good and you have time.

  • Forward Bend and Toe Touch
  • Standing Quad Stretch
  • Cat and Camel Pose
  • Child’s Pose

Note : Just spend 10-30 seconds more to limber up and stretch.

Here’s how to do each move:

1. Spot Jogging

MatureEssentialAlligator-small

  • Stand upright in your regular stance and jog on the spot.
  • Make sure you’re jogging on your toes and not heels or the centre of your feet.

Continue for 30/45 seconds.

jumping-jacks-20-min

  • Stand with your feet together, core engaged, and hands at sides.
  • Jump your feet wider than hip-width apart, and bring arms up to clap hands overhead.
  • Jump your feet back together and bring your arms to your sides to return to starting position.

Continue for 30/45 seconds and try to get as fast as possible.

3. Inchworm Walk To Shoulder Tap

Inchworms

  • Stand with your feet together, core engaged, and hands at sides. Bend forward at your hips to place your hands on the floor in front of you.
  • You can bend your knees a little if you need to.
  • Walk your hands forward until you’re in a high plank, with your palms flat on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended, and core engaged.
  • Tap your right hand to your left shoulder while engaging your core and glutes to keep your hips as still as possible. Try not to rock at the hips. Do the same thing with your left hand to right shoulder.
  • Walk your hands back toward your feet and stand up to return to the starting position.

Continue for 30/45 seconds.

4. Squats

Squats

  • Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, toes slightly turned out.
  • Bend your knees and push your hips back as you lower down into a squat. Keep your core engaged, chest lifted, and back flat.Push through your heels to stand back up to the starting position.
  • Squeeze your butt at the top.

Continue for 30/45 seconds.

5. Push-ups/Modified Pushups

  • Start in a high plank position with your palms flat on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you, and your core and glutes engaged.
  • Bend your elbows and bring your chest toward the ground to do a push-up. As you bend your elbows and lower toward the ground.
  • Push back up to high plank, maintaining a strong core and flat back. This is 1 rep.
  • If this is too challenging, feel free to modify by dropping to your knees when you push your butt back toward your heels.

Continue for 30/45 seconds.

Lunges

  • Stand with your feet together, arms down by your sides.
  • Step forward (about 2 feet) with your right foot, landing on the ball of your right foot and keeping your heel on the ground.
  • Keep your chest lifted, back flat, and your glutes and core engaged.
  • Push through the heel of your left foot to return to standing, and without pausing, step forward repeating the movement with your left leg.

Continue for 30/45 seconds.

7. Mountain Climbers

mountain_climbers_man

  • Start in a high plank position with your palms flat on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you, and your core and glutes engaged.
  • Bring your right knee under your torso to your right elbow. Return to starting position.
  • Repeat on the other side, bringing your left leg to your left elbow. Return to starting position. This is 1 rep.
  • Start slowly, and start to speed up the move when you feel comfortable, for even more of a cardio challenge.

Continue for 30/45 seconds.

8. Sprawls

Sprawl Squats

  • Start in a high plank position with your palms flat on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you, and your core and glutes engaged.
  • Lower into a forearm plank, starting with your left arm, followed by your right.
  • Then, come up in the reverse order—starting with your right arm and following with the left.
  • Now that you’re back in the high plank, perform one frogger by jumping your feet outside your hands, keeping your weight in the center of your feet. Drop your butt down.
  • Then, jump your feet back out to a high plank and repeat the plank-up starting with the right arm this time.
  • If this is too challenging, scale down by doing the plank-up from your knees and walk your feet in for the frogger instead of jumping.

Continue for 30/45 seconds.

9. Panther Shoulder Taps

panther-shoulder-taps-20-min

  • Place your hands and knees on the floor.
  • Engage your core and while keeping your back flat and your butt down (like you’re in a plank), lift your knees off the floor about 1 to 3 inches. Gaze at the floor a few inches in front of your hands to keep your neck in a comfortable position.
  • Tap your right hand to your left shoulder, and then your left hand to your right shoulder, while using your core strength to keep your hips as still as you can. (“Imagine there’s a drink balancing on your back!” Sims says.) That’s 1 rep.

Continue for 30/45 seconds.

10. Elbow Plank

Elbow-Plank

Planks are great for working the abs, and the elbow plank is harder on the abs than the traditional plank in push-up position.

  • Start face down on the floor resting on your forearms and knees.
  • Push off the floor, raising up off your knees onto your toes and resting mainly on your elbows.
  • Contract your abdominals to keep yourself up and prevent your booty from sticking up.
  • Keep your back flat — don’t let it droop or you’ll be defeating the purpose. Picture your body as a long straight board, or planks.

Continue for 30/45 seconds.

11. Burpees

burpee-20-min

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, core and glutes engaged.
  • Bend your knees and reach forward to place your hands on the floor, shoulder-width apart.
  • Kick your legs straight out behind you and immediately lower your entire body down to the ground, bending at the elbows, so that your chest touches the floor.
  • Use your arms to quickly push your body back up while hopping your legs back under your body.
  • Explode up, jumping vertically with arms stretched overhead. Land lightly on the balls of your feet with your knees slightly bent, and immediately repeat.

12. Beast Load and Unload

Loading-and-Unloading-Beast

  • It is similar to a blast off push-up, but without the push-up.
  • “Load the beast” by assuming a modified child’s pose, kneeling on the ground with heels underneath hips, knees slightly flared open, and arms extended in front of you with elbows straight. Let your head fall between your arms, and lift your knees an inch off the ground.
  • Next, “unload the beast.” Keeping your elbows completely straight and your knees an inch from the ground, begin to shift your hips forward. Continue to push forward until your shoulders are in front of your wrists. Return to the start to complete one rep.

13. Forward Bend and Toe Touch

Toe touch

  • From Downward Facing Dog, slowly step forward to the top of your mat. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Straighten your legs out as much as you can and let your torso hang down.
  • Tuck your chin in toward your chest, relax your shoulders, and extend the crown of your head toward the floor to create a long spine.
  • Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.

14. Standing Quad Stretch

  • Stand with your feet together.
  • Use your left hand to pull your left foot toward your butt.
  • If you need to, put one hand on a wall for balance.
  • Squeeze your glutes to increase the stretch in the front of your legs.
  • Hold for 10 to 20 seconds.
  • Repeat on the other leg.

15. Cat and Camel Pose

Cat and camel

  • Kneel down on all fours with your hands directly underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. Round your upper back while pressing your shoulders forward while looking down. This is your starting or cat position.
  • Pause, then slightly arch your back while looking up towards the ceiling. Return to starting position.
  • Continue for 30 seconds.

Child Pose

  • Kneel on your mat with your knees hip width apart and your feet together behind you. Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, lay your torso over your thighs.
  • Try to lengthen your neck and spine by drawing your ribs away from your tailbone and the crown of your head away from your shoulders.
  • Rest your forehead on the ground, with your arms extended out in front of you.
  • Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.

The Secret To Improving Stamina & Endurance – Cult Fit

Disclaimer : I do not own this article. This article was originally published here. It was insightful and I felt like sharing it with the readers on this page. I should also tell you that I have been a member of Cult.Fit for almost a year now and use their gyms regularly.

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What’s the secret, you ask?

The short answer:

Cardiorespiratory Fitness

But what does cardiorespiratory fitness really mean?

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Technically speaking, cardiorespiratory fitness refers to your respiratory and circulatory systems’ ability to supply oxygen to skeletal muscles during an extended period of physical activity. But basically, it denotes your body’s ability to keep performing work or exercise for a longer duration.

It is considered good to improve endurance, stamina, or lung capacity. And, more often than not, most of us know that we can do better when it comes to these elements. But, what we might not know is how to make these improvements happen, or how to ensure that our cardio fitness keeps improving with training.

Cardiorespiratory fitness involves a series of processes that determine how well your body takes and utilizes oxygen. These include:

  • Your heart’s and lungs’ ability to deliver blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the working muscle
  • The ability of lungs to take in oxygen and put it in blood, in turn, pumping the blood to the working muscle
  • The muscles’ efficiency in utilising the oxygen from the blood to form energy currencies that help you keep going

Through the right training protocol and consistent workouts, you can enhance your body’s efficiency to do the above-mentioned tasks. This in turn, results in improved endurance and stamina that makes you fit for your demanding everyday life or any sports activity.

Now that you have a basic idea of what happens inside your body during cardiorespiratory workouts, it’s time to look at the right training protocol for better cardio fitness.

How To Improve Your Cardiorespiratory Fitness

Cardiorespiratory fitness can be significantly improved by performing almost any type of prolonged physical activity that works your aerobic energy system—gets your heart rate up and keeps it that way for an extended period of time. So, you even choose to do activities that you enjoy, like swimming, walking, or jogging with your friends.

Nevertheless, depending on the type of workouts, intensity, duration, and frequency, your results can vary. Thus, you have to carefully choose an activity that will help you achieve optimal results from your training.

Here are three categories of activities that are broadly classified based on the skills you require to perform them.

  • Easy – walking, jogging, running, riding a stationary bike, elliptical training, and climbing stairs
  • Moderate – cycling, skating, swimming, aerobic dancing, and jump rope
  • Hard (but fun) – sports and games like basketball, football, squash, tennis, and volleyball

How Hard Should You Workout?

Ask people how hard you should work out, and most people will tell you to keep your heart rate between 60%-90% of your maximum heart rate. While this is one good way to measure the intensity of your workout, it can become quite hard for people without fitness trackers or smartphones to figure out their heart rate during a workout session.

The good news is that you don’t need any sort of equipment to measure the intensity at which you work out. All you should do is become a bit more observant about how you feel while you exercise. Here’s how.

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When you do high-intensity workouts, your respiratory rate significantly increases—you might have likely experienced shortness of breath after running a sprint, or after a sustained dance session. As this happens, a large volume of air starts moving in and out of your lungs, and as you gradually progress the intensity (imagine switching from walking to jogging on the treadmill) the amount of air moving in and out of your lungs also increases linearly. But you are still able to talk to someone comfortable while you exercise.

Increase the intensity one step further (from jogging to running), and there comes a point when you aren’t able to talk comfortably due to the amount of air disproportionately increasing. This is called the ‘threshold intensity’—the point at which your sentence starts breaking when you try to speak while working out. You have to work at your threshold intensity, for better cardio fitness.

To better understand this, Rishabh suggests looking at a three-zone intensity model that can be applied to any type of cardio exercise.

Zone 1: The intensity at which you can talk comfortably

Zone 2: The intensity at which talking comfortably becomes a bit harder

Zone 3: The intensity at which you cannot talk comfortably

Using these zones, you will easily be able to tailor your training to suit your goals, whether it is sports performance or weight loss related.

Now, it’s the time to address the primary question—how hard should you workout?

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Realistically, the exercise programming or the intensity at which you should work out depends on your individual goals and training status. Here’s how it works at a basic level.

When you are New to Fitness:

  • All your cardio workouts should fall within Zone 1 (where you can comfortably talk)
  • You should ideally workout at such intensity for 10-15 minutes straight for 2-3 days/week
  • Your goal should be to hit 20-25 minutes of uninterrupted cardio activity at this intensity without getting too fatigued
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Once you achieve the above, you know that you are ready to move to a higher intensity in training. Typically, an average individual takes anywhere from three to six weeks to undergo this transition.

Though training at this intensity doesn’t result in an increase in the Vo2 max (maximum rate of oxygen consumption measured during incremental exercise), you will still be able to tap into the overall health benefits associated with cardiorespiratory training. Also, as you are a beginner, the aim here is to build regularity in fitness. This is where you START!

When you are someone who has been exercising for a while and is looking forward to completing a 10K run:

  • Start including Zone 2 intervals in your training session (intensity at which talking comfortably becomes harder)
  • Your workout sessions should be a combination of 20% moderate to high-intensity training and 80% low-intensity training
  • Exercise 3-5 days/ week

In case you are someone who does not have goals of completing a 10k run, you might want to solely look at the fitness part of the zone. Zone 2 is great for fitness enthusiasts who have been working out for a while as it leads to all fitness adaptations, i.e. increased Vo2 max and lactate threshold, and improved health benefits. The aim here is to improve your cardiorespiratory exercise efficiency, aka improved stamina.

When you are someone who aims to increase your speed in a 10K run:

  • Zone 3 is where you train with the aim to hit the personal best in your races
  • Though training in this zone provokes significant improvements in fitness, only small amounts of it are tolerable
  • Spend about 10% of the entire training session doing very high intensity (Zone 3) workouts, and the rest of the time doing low to moderate intensity (Zone 1 or Zone 2) workouts.
  • Train for at least 3-4 days a week if you are a trained individual

A lab testing to get the reading on various thresholds—lactate and Vo2 max—is the most accurate way to train more efficiently towards achieving your goals. However, as it is a tedious process, you can use the three-zone intensity model to get a reasonable understanding of the right intensity levels for you.

In case you use a fitness tracker such as FitBit, Apple, etc. you will be able to relate more to the training zones that flash on its screen after reading this post. What’s more, you will be able to tailor your training sessions in perfect alignment with your goals.

Why Is Cardiorespiratory Endurance Important?

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The reasons are obvious—cardiorespiratory endurance helps you train more efficiently, run longer distances, do higher-intensity aerobic activities, and ultimately burn more calories. According to Rishabh Telang, cardiorespiratory fitness is the ultimate key for heart health and a great option to strengthen your aerobic energy system. 

Studies also show that people with higher cardiorespiratory endurance have a lower risk of developing hypertension as well as coronary heart diseases.

Additionally, cardio workout comes in different variations. Hence, you can try out a different variation every day, which will help you work on different muscle groups while allowing your body to rest.

Lastly, if your cardiorespiratory endurance is good, it means you are healthy and fit to actively participate in many activities. This will, in turn, help you run better, breathe easier, live healthier, and also burn more calories and lose weight, if that’s a part of your goals.

Disclaimer : I do not own this article. This article was originally published here. It was insightful and I felt like sharing it with the readers on this page. I should also tell you that I have been a member of Cult.Fit for almost a year now and use their gyms regularly.

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Walking : An UNDERRATED Activity!!

Just like drinking water, walking is one of those activities that we never appreciate, mostly because it doesn’t seem too strenuous or doesn’t get your heart rate up. Just to grab your attention, let me start by saying,

“Walking is one of the best exercise for burning fat and one your body will appreciate the most”.

To understand this, it is good to understand your ideal Fat Burning Zone.

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The body does rely on different substrates during exercise according to the exercise intensity. At a lower intensity level, the body relies more on fat as a fuel source as it takes more time to breakdown fat and convert it to energy (a longer process). During high intensity efforts, the body begins to metabolize carbohydrates instead, preferring their speed of breakdown to fuel higher levels of exertion.

The preference for fat at lower levels of intensity has created the fat-burning zone – an intensity at which the highest percentage of calories burned come from fat. However, it is better to focus the majority of your efforts on generating a calorie deficit.

“You may burn a little more fat during exercise, but if a calorie deficit isn’t present, it will all even out in the end you won’t lose much fat at all.”

In lower intensity programs, the overall calorie burn during a workout will be lower than a high intensity workout – regardless of whether those calories come from fat or carbohydrates.

Although steady-state cardio at lower intensities may not necessarily lead to higher levels of fat loss, it can provide a much-needed break from HIIT workouts. Steady state cardio is useful when aiming to create a caloric deficit because it offers an opportunity to burn more calories without increasing intensity, and delaying recovery from heavy weight training workouts. Incorporate lower intensity cardio following hard days to improve circulation while encouraging recovery or during deload weeks when exercise intensity should naturally decrease.

How to find your ideal Fat Burning Zone:

Figure out your max heart rate (Max Heart Rate = 220 – your age). And then determine your fat-burning range, which is 60% to 70% of your max heart rate. Use a fitness app or a smart watch/fitness band to calculate your 5 heart rate zones. (This is an average estimate based on a larger consensus of people, but may not be applicable to everybody. If you have any heart conditions, please talk to your physician before any kind of exercise).

The benefits can be listed as under:

1. It Doesn’t Add Training Stress.

Unlike metabolic conditioning or HIIT, walking adds very little training stress to the body. Combine intense cardio with several days of weight lifting each week and the body may simply overtrain and burnout. Rest is important!!

I like to call walking as an active rest activity and the best part is that it is hard to overtrain with walking. It doesn’t accumulate much stress and you could walk a ton. Shin splints might be your biggest worry, but as long as you watch the incline, don’t go crazy with the volume and wear decent shoes, you should be fine.

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2. Walking is restorative and assists with training recovery.

You feel better after you finish a walk, not worse, and the effects are immediate. It increases blood flow, which will help you recover from injuries and even training.

Some say walking also has a small spinal-flossing effect that helps the nerves align optimally and thus conduct their electrical impulses in an ideal way. Ever hear someone say that a walk helps their stiff and sore muscles feel better? Now you know why.

3. It burns a lot of fat and almost no muscle.

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Walking is a low intensity exercise, which means it burns a higher percentage of fat. True, walking for 10 minutes doesn’t burn a lot of fat or calories in general, but walk briskly at an incline for 4-8 hours a week and you’ll burn a significant amount of fat.

The fact that it doesn’t harm your muscles is probably the biggest aesthetic benefit. High intensity exercise, particularly cardio, uses glucose for fuel. Normally that isn’t a concern as the body will break down its glycogen storage (stored carbs) for glucose.

If on a diet and lifting weights, glycogen stores are more easily depleted. If you add intense cardio on top of this, the body will release cortisol to help convert amino acids into glucose to be used as fuel. Those amino acids can come from your hard-earned muscle tissue.

Clearly, this is a problem for a lifter because whatever form of energy storage you have, you’ll burn more of that particular energy store. Most people have considerable body fat, and the body is quick to burn that off once they get moving.

But a muscular and moderately lean individual will have more muscle than fat. The body will see the muscle as “excess” and will preferentially burn that muscle to meet the caloric demand of the exercise.

4. It can build aerobic fitness and work capacity.

Brisk walking won’t turn you into a marathoner, but it does build up the VO2 Max.

Going fast on a high incline –without holding onto the handles (in case of a treadmill) –isn’t as easy as it seems. Regularly doing so can often take a more muscular male’s VO2 Max to the 50+ range, which is usually ideal for them to complete challenging weight training workouts.

As for work capacity, a fit person should be able to exercise at a moderate pace for a long time. Walking helps build this ability. A criticism of “meatheads” is that they train their phosphagen (short duration, high intensity) energy system well but nothing else. In other words, if they have to work continuously for any length of time, they can’t handle it. Walking takes care of that.

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5 – Stress Relief, Functional and Productive

If you’re on a treadmill, there’s a great chance that it already has cable tv and is connected to news. If you’re walking outdoors, you can simply put some headphones on and listen to your daily podcast. Suddenly, you’ve made your workout a lot more productive and effective!

Walking can also be a great way to have some quiet time, collect your thoughts, ponder your troubles (or escape them), or talk with your loved ones. Truth is, once you complete the walk, you usually feel better and life looks better because of it.

“Functional” might have taken on different meanings, but one meaning is that it’s something which mimics or improves activities of daily living. It may be the single most functional activity a person can do since the need to get around is crucial for human survival.

6. It is low impact and hard to screw up.

Walking is easy and low impact, so even if you have sensitive knees or a bad back, walking shouldn’t affect it. It might even help improve those conditions. The biggest mistake for those who use treadmills is holding onto the handles, particularly if the treadmill is at an incline.

If you hold onto the handles and lean back you effectively eliminate the incline, as now your body is essentially perpendicular to the treadmill –which is what happens when you walk on flat ground.

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7. It is better for strength athletes than running.

Running or jogging has benefits, but strength athletes are better off avoiding it. Many lifters notice their lifts and explosiveness go down when they jog regularly. And the heavier you are, the harder running is on your body.

Weight (and not fat %) will always play an important factor if you’re running longer distances. It doesn’t matter if you’re at 4% body fat. If you’re heavy, it will have an impact on your knees.

Note that I’m not talking about sprints.

8. It works fasted.

The theory behind fasted cardio is that if the body is low on carbs, it will turn to fat for energy. I agree with this premise and walking is the perfect form of exercise for it.

Where everybody seems to screw up is by trying to perform HIIT cardio while fasted, which isn’t smart because you’ll burn a lot of muscle –assuming you have a decent amount of muscle to begin with.

9. It is for all age groups

It doesn’t matter if you’re 10 or 70. Every person in every age group can benefit from this activity and it requires no training whatsoever. It is literally one of the first things we lee earn to do in life!

The Only Disadvantage

Walking is time consuming. To burn fat I’d suggest three hours of walking a week at a minimum, but 4-5 hours is ideal.

You won’t be able to read at the pace I suggest. Don’t try. But watching TV, chatting, listening to music, books, lectures, or podcasts is a great way to pass the time.

The vast majority of people spend more than 3-6 hours a week watching TV. On a treadmill you could still watch that amount of TV and get lean at the same time. Although, I prefer a walk in the open, thanks to fresher air, and the fact that treadmill might not be good for your knees in the long run, especially for heavy people.

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Workout Essentials – Recovery!!

PBCM_Refuel-Repair-Rehydrate

I know you’ve been hitting the gym hard and busting it in your training at home or ever since the lockdowns were lifted and gyms started opening up! You went to depth on every squat rep and pushed your reverse lunges to failure. Your quads are beat and your hamstrings burn. Your workout was tough. But let me tell you this, IT DID NOT BUILD AND OUNCE OF MUSCLE!!!

What if I tell you spending hours lifting, day in and day out, might actually stall your progress?

The answer to this lies in your post-gym regime. The opportunity for muscle growth begins the moment you STOP lifting, and that growth can’t happen without proper recovery protocol. Recovery and rest are essential parts of any strength and conditioning program—and most coaches and trainers would argue it’s just as or more important than the lifting itself.

Recovery must occur before progress can be made.

It is important for staying injury free, long-term consistent training and hitting new highs from time to time. Muscles don’t grow in the gym; they grow after. When you lift heavy, your muscles suffer micro-tears and are actually broken down via a process called Catabolism. Immediately after you lift, your body begins repairs, but it needs your help.

If you want to get the most from each and every workout, you need to prioritise post-workout recovery. Heed these tips to maximise recovery, stay on top of your game and ensure maximum gains.

1. Push The Barrier, Don’t Annihilate It

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“No pain, no gain!” has probably been spat in your face as you struggled to rack a one-rep max bench press. Pushing beyond your limits is a good thing, but just how far should you push? It is important to hit the muscle just enough to create that needed stimulus for muscle growth, but not in completely destroying it to the point where your muscle hurts for days.

If you obliterate your body with every workout, your body will revert its energy to repairing the downstream effects of the damage rather than building muscle.

“The focus shouldn’t be on how fast you recover, but instead on how productive your recovery is”. If you constantly obliterate your body to complete and utter exhaustion with every workout, this damage accumulates over time and your body will revert its energy to repairing the downstream effects of the damage rather than building new muscle.

The trick is to “work out hard enough to push yourself past your comfort zones—trying to do more than you did the workout before, for example. Just don’t destroy yourself entirely.” By following this sage advice, you’ll make solid and steady progress rather than taking one step forward and two steps back.

2. Get Serious About Pre-Workout Nutrition

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By now, most people understand that the foods they eat after their workout and throughout the day factor into the quality of their recovery. The foods you eat before a workout can also play an important role in pre-empting the tissue-rebuilding process once the workout is over.

Digestion is a lengthy process; proteins and carbs that you ingest prior to the workout will still be circulating in the body afterward. For this reason, choose your foods wisely. Make sure you get high-quality, lean protein along with some complex carbohydrates, especially if you plan on an intense workout. I personally have a small 200 calorie meal with some carbs and proteins, 45 minutes prior to heading to the gym. It may include a banana, or a couple slices of bread with cheese or peanut butter, or some almonds and an apple.

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In addition to eating near your workouts, there have been substantial reported benefits of taking BCAAs before and during a workout, as well. BCAAs have been designed to encourage efficient absorption by the muscle cells. Having said that, I would like to add that I am not an advocate of supplements, and it is always down to your personal preferences. However, I do consume 1 serving of BCAA during my workout.

3. Don’t Skip The Stretching

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Stretching probably doesn’t sound sexy (or even necessary) when all you want is size, but it might be the most underrated player in muscle growth. By not having the necessary flexibility and muscle pliability, you might short yourself on muscular gains in many compound lifts. For example, if your ankles are too tight, you can’t go deep enough in a squat to reap maximum benefits.

Barbara Bolotte, IFBB pro, stresses, “Make sure you allot at least 20 minutes after a workout to cool down and stretch. If you don’t plan for it, you are more likely to skip it.”

Stretching is a great way to relieve muscular tension and potentially downplay the soreness you experience later. “Prolonged stretching with moderate exercise and diet control will reduce cholesterol and significantly reverse hardening of the arteries,” notes Barbara. Knowing these things, more people should be taking stretching more seriously!

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4. Perfect Your Post-Workout Protein

Basic CMYK
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Go ahead and giggle at the burly types chugging their post-workout shake. While you chortle ’til you choke, they’re feeding their muscles the necessary fuel to grow and improve. Post-workout protein is vital, especially if you haven’t eaten anything for hours. Aim for 20-50 grams of protein after each workout depending on your bodyweight.

Whey protein is the most popular protein supplement, and for good reason: It is convenient, easy to mix, and it offers a rapid absorption rate that’s perfect after a tough training session. Don’t merely go for taste or cost. Invest in quality whey isolate to see a difference. Casein can also be on your route to the top. If your goal is to build size, you can prefer this type of protein, since it takes a significantly longer amount of time to absorb. There are many bodybuilders I have come across, who consume Whey proteins right after a workout, and Casein right before they go to bed.

One trick that I use to optimize my recovery is to drink about 30 grams of whey protein followed by lots of water and some carbs. “You need immediate, fast-acting carbohydrates during your post-workout window to replenish glycogen levels, restore energy, and bump up insulin levels”. “Insulin can be extremely anabolic at the right time, helping the restoration of muscle proteins by inhibiting protein breakdown and stimulating protein synthesis.”

5. Eat Potassium-Rich Foods

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While we’re on the subject of post-workout nutrition, you should consider including a source of potassium in your post-workout cocktail. Your potassium reserves will inevitably be sapped from an intense workout session. Potassium, among other nutrients like sodium and calcium, is a key mineral which plays a role in muscular energy. Bananas or potatoes are good potassium sources. Bananas go with nearly everything, but mashed potatoes in your first meal following the workout are also winners.

6. Focus On Quality Sleep

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Source : Michael A. Grandner, National Sleep Association.

Catching quality Zs seems like a no-brainer, but it’s still all to common to hear how many people get less than six hours of sleep.

“Sleep is not just for relaxing. This is the necessary downtime that your body needs to restore itself”. Sacrificing hours of sleep over a long period of time can even make you mentally weaker and negatively impact your drive in training sessions.

At least seven hours is the ideal target to hit, although many people, including athletes, may need up to nine hours. Find ways to make changes in your day that will allow you to get to bed earlier.

It has been shown that lack of adequate sleep can decrease and reduce tolerance to training, alter mood, increase perception of fatigue and negatively affect the physiological mechanisms responsible for adaptation from the stresses of training. Hormonal secretion during sleep is one of the most important factors influencing recovery; after all, the purpose of sleep is to induce a state of recovery in the body. Anabolic (muscle-building) hormone concentrations and activity increase during sleep while catabolic (muscle-wasting) hormone concentrations and activity decrease. Disrupted or shortened sleep will negatively influence the effects of these anabolic hormones.

Try to develop a regular sleeping routine where you go to bed at a similar time each night of the week. Remove distractions like light, smartphones, and TVs. If possible, try for 8 hours of sleep per night and/or fit in an afternoon power nap for 30 minutes to rejuvenate the body.

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A GUIDE TO SUGAR & HOW TO REDUCE ADDED SUGARS

Disclaimer : I don’t own this article. It has been taken from here, another blog I follow regularly for healthy recipes.

Sugar is a sneaky little ingredient that’s in a considerable amount of foods in many forms. Despite its delicious and innocent taste, sugar has addictive properties and is linked to a variety of preventable health conditions. Although it’s easy to label all sugar as “bad”, there are types that, when eaten in moderation, may have nutritional benefits.

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Types of Sugars

Sugar is a type of carbohydrate found in both food and beverages. Once eaten, sugar is broken down into glucose which is ultimately used for energy. Let’s break it down some more with the most common types & examples:

  1. Monosaccharides » glucose, galactose, fructose
  2. Disaccharides » sucrose, lactose, maltose
  3. Oligosaccharides » maltodextrin, raffinose
  4. Polyols (sugar alcohols) » sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol

Natural vs. Added Sugars

Natural sugars: ​

These are naturally occurring in foods (i.e. not added). Carbohydrates (simple and complex) are naturally occurring in some shape or form in practically all whole fruits, vegetables, dairy and grain products. 

  • Fruit: Primarily contains fructose 
  • Potatoes and yams: Contain starch which are made up of glucose molecules
  • Cow’s milk: Primarily contains lactose

Added Sugars :

These not only add sweetness to foods, but manufacturers add them into products to serve various other functions : Preservation, Texture and Mouthfeel, Volume, Rich color resulting from caramelisation.

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They can be found in:

  • Soda/Pop Drikns
  • Sweetened coffee or tree drinks
  • Cocktails
  • Energy or sports drinks
  • Fruit juices
  • Many store bought cereals, salad dressings, soups
  • Dairy based desserts such as ice cream, pudding, etc.
  • Candies such as gummies or halloween candy
  • Commercially baked goods such as cookies, muffins, cakes etc.

What about coconut sugar? Coconut sugar, while it may have a small trace amount of minerals, is nutritionally identical to white granulated sugar and is best consumed in the same level of moderation

Effects of Excess Added Sugars

  • Type 2 diabetes: has been linked to the habitual consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Weight gain: is connected to excessive intake of sugar. Having excess weight or obesity increases the risk for chronic illnesses such as hypertensiontype 2 diabetescoronary heart disease and various forms of cancers.
  • Fatigue: simple sugars can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels, which can come crashing back down making you feel tired and groggy. Complex sugars and carbohydrates break down slower, keeping the blood sugar more stable.
  • Cavities: there is a strong association between sugar-sweetened beverages and dental cavities in children though adults can get cavities just as easily.
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Liquid Sweeteners :

  • Maple Syrup
  • Blackstrap Molasses 
  • Agave Syrup
  • Honey
  • Corn Syrup

Ultimately these liquid sweeteners are sugars, too. They contain about the same amount of calories as white sugar and are generally metabolized in the same way. Some have trace minerals in very small amounts. We still love to use these sweeteners for their wonderful flavours and consistencies in particular recipes; however, they should still be consumed in moderation. 

Artificial Sweeteners 

  1. Acesulfame potassium
  2. Aspartame
  3. Cyclamate (Sweet’n Low)
  4. Neotame 
  5. Saccharin (Sweet’n Low)
  6. Stevia/Steviol (Truvia)
  7. Sucralose (Splenda)

These sugar substitutes are zero- or low- calorie alternatives to the sugar options mentioned above. Because of this, companies market their products as “sugar-free”, “diet” or “no calories”. They are found in many diabetic products because they have little or no effect on blood sugar levels. Some can be made from natural leaf extracts, and some are manufactured. Most artificial sweeteners are also remarkably sweeter when compared to table sugar, meaning smaller amounts can be used to create the same sweetness level. 

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Considerations with artificial sweeteners

a. conflicting evidence

According to the most recent meta-analysis, artificial sweeteners have not been linked to health outcomes such as diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure, certain cancers or dental health. However, according to other analyses, they have been associated with increased BMI and other complications. In short, there are biases and limitations to the studies conducted so far and more research is needed.

b. compensating for other sugary foods

In our experience, when people consciously know they are having artificial sweeteners with no calories, they mentally feel they can compensate with something that does have sugar later on. This is similar to exercising and then treating yourself with an indulgent food as a result. 

c. potential GI intolerances 

Some artificial sweeteners include sugar alcohols, which if consumed in large amounts (say, in a beverage) can have a laxative effect. 

d. can it really trick the brain?

Consuming artificial sweeteners lights up similar regions of the brain in terms of satisfaction as with all other types of sugar. Therefore, artificial sweeteners may not actually help curb sugar cravings from the root because we still tend to crave something sweet. In fact, one study suggests that we use sweet taste to predict the calories in a particular food. And when our bodies receive these non caloric sweeteners instead, it realizes the discrepancy and continues to crave, and can potentially eat even more. 

Bottom line: we recommend whole food sources above processed foods including added sugars or artificial sweeteners. There is not enough conclusive evidence to lean one way or the other in terms of long term health effects. Therefore, if you enjoy the flavour and find you do not compensate for sugar elsewhere in your diet, including artificial sweeteners is likely safe include in small amounts. 

Spotting Hidden Sugars in the Ingredient List

When it comes to the ingredient list of foods, only added sugars are listed. Granulated sugar is easy to spot in the ingredient list. But, food manufacturers can still add sugar in many other sneaky ways. Here are some more common types of sugar that can be added:

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  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Dextrose or dextrin
  • Maltose
  • Molasses
  • Lactose
  • Cane Sugar
  • Invert Sugar
  • Sucrose
  • Caramel
  • Liquid Sweeteners (mentioned above)

Hint: any ingredient that ends in ‘ose’ or has ‘syrup’ in the title is likely a source of added sugar

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OVERNIGHT OATS- 3 DIFFERENT WAYS!

Disclaimer : I don’t own any of this content. It was copied from Bake With Shivesh. I have been following him since a few months now and really love his content. This was one I felt like sharing with y’all.

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WHAT ARE OVERNIGHT OATS?

There are two basic ways of preparing oats. One way involves cooking them with milk on the stovetop right before you want to eat them. Another way of preparing oats is a no cooking method where you soak oats in milk and let the oats absorb the milk. This gives a porridge-like consistency and there is no need to cook oats made in such a way.

Usually, it only takes about 2 hours of time for the oats to absorb the milk. However, for the best flavor and texture, it is advised to leave your oats soaked in milk overnight.

INGREDIENTS FOR THESE RECIPES

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As I’ve mentioned above, the recipe for these overnight oats is very easy and requires the most commonly available ingredients. You will first need to make the basic recipe to which we will add the toppings of different flavors later.

For the basic recipe, all you need is milk, oats, and honey. The milk and oats ratio that I use is 2:1 i.e., two parts milk and one part oats. The 2:1 ratio gives me the perfect consistency of oats the next day. I add a little bit of honey for some sweetness but if you’re someone who is not a big fan of sweet oats, then you can leave out the honey.

For this recipe, I used rolled oats and not steel cut or instant oats. The main difference between rolled oats and steel cut oats is with regard to the way they absorb liquid. Rolled oats absorb liquid faster than steel cut oats and eventually get soft and slightly mushy. Steel cut oats on the other hand, absorb lesser liquid. This enables the steel cut oats to maintain their shape. Less absorption of liquid also leads to more of a nutty flavor in steel cut oats.

A lot of recipes for overnight oats also have greek yogurt in their basic recipe. But according to me, milk, honey, and oats are all you need for the basic recipe.

HOW TO MAKE VEGAN OVERNIGHT OATS

If you want to make vegan oats, then here is what you’ll need:

  • I used rolled oats for my recipe. Rolled oats are vegan itself so you can definitely use these.
  • I used cow’s milk for my recipe. But using almond milk or soy milk is a good substitute for cow milk.
  • For sweetness I added honey but you can add maple syrup. Honey is taken from honey bees so it’s not considered a vegan product.
  • You can add any fruits you like, any seeds you prefer and you can also add some vegan yogurt if you want!
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OATS AS A HEALTHY MEAL

Oats make for a perfect breakfast because they have a lot of health benefits. Plus, things like oatmeal definitely fill you up. Thus, there’s less scope of munching on snacks and junk! Health benefits of overnight oats include:

  • Oats are a great source of nutrients. They have fiber, protein, magnesium, potassium, and omega 3 fatty acids.
  • They do not have any pre-added sugar. Some instant flavor varieties might have some sugar, but simple plain oats have zero added sugar.
  • They are also high in antioxidants which help lower blood pressure levels.
  • Oats contains good amounts of healthy carbohydrates.
  • The vitamins in overnight oats can also help boost brain function.
TypeIngredientsInstructions
Overnight oats1 cup  milk
½ cup rolled oats
2 Tbsp honey
To make the basic overnight oats, in a bowl, put rolled oats, milk, and honey. Mix this well and refrigerate it overnight or a minimum of 2 hours.

Once refrigerated, transfer the basic overnight oats into your serving dish and assemble your overnight oats according to your flavor preference.
Apple Pie Oats½ cup overnight oats
¼ cup chopped apples
2 Tbsp dried cranberries
1 tsp light brown sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp water
¼ cup chopped pecans (optional)
In a saucepan add chopped apples, dried cranberries, cinnamon, light brown sugar and water.

Cook this apple pie folling on low heat till all the sugar dissolves. Set aside
Take your serving bowl/ glass and add half of the basic overnight oats. Fold in chopped pecans. This is optional.

Add the rest of your basic overnight oats and top it with the apple pie filling and some chopped nuts. Serve immediately.
Banana and Chocolate½ cup overnight oats
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
¼ cup crushed walnuts
1 banana (sliced)
2 tsp chia seeds (to top)
In your serving bowl/glass, put the basic overnight oats.

Now add cocoa powder to this and mix it well.
Top it with sliced bananas and chia seeds. Serve immediately
Peanut Butter and Jelly Overnight Oats½ cup overnight oats
1 cup diced strawberries
2 Tbsp strawberry chia jam
2 Tbsp peanut butter
Strawberries and pumpkins seeds (to top)
In your serving bowl/glass, put the basic overnight oats. Fold in chopped strawberries to this.

Add a layer of strawberry chia jam.

Then add a layer of peanut butter.

Top this with fresh strawberries and pumpkin seeds. Serve immediately

Disclaimer : I don’t own any of this content. It was copied from Bake With Shivesh. I have been following him since a few months now and really love his content. This was one I felt like sharing with y’all.

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You Vs. Who?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com
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I was Cycling this morning and I noticed another cyclist about half a kilometer ahead. I could guess he was Cycling a little slower than me and that made me feel good, since I was faster.

I said to myself, “If I ride a little faster, I will catch up with him in no time”.

So I started cycling faster and faster. With every pedal, I was gaining on him a little bit. After just a few minutes I was only about 100 feet behind him, so I really picked up the pace and pushed myself. In that moment, all I could think about was getting past him and I was determined to do just that.

Finally, I did it! I caught up and passed him. It was a small moment of rush and joy where I told myself, “I beat him”. Of course, he didn’t even know we were racing. It was only after I passed him, that I realized I had been so focused on competing against him that I had missed the turn to my house!!!

In this entire unnecessary charade going on in my head, I totally missed out on enjoying the moment. I missed out on enjoying the activity that brought me peace, I missed out on seeing the beautiful greenery around, I missed out on paying attention to my thoughts and in the needless hurry my feet slipped from the pedal a couple of times and I could have have hit the sidewalk and broken a limb.

Like a lot of my other thoughts that I’ve penned on this page before, it then dawned on me, that this is exactly what happens in life when we focus on competing with people around us ; co-workers, neighbours, friends, family ; trying to outdo them or being busy trying to prove (to ourselves and people around us) that we are more successful or more important and in the process, missing out on our happiness within our own surroundings.

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We spend so much time and energy running after them that we miss out on our own paths to our given destinations. The problem, I realised, with unhealthy competition is that it’s a never ending cycle. There will always be somebody ahead of you, someone with a better job, a nicer car, more money in the bank, more education, a prettier wife, a more handsome husband, better behaved children, better circumstances and conditions, etc.

But one important realisation is that

‘You can be the best that you can be, when you are not competing with anyone.’

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Some people are insecure because they pay too much attention to what others are, where others are going, wearing and driving, what others are talking. Take whatever you have, the height, the weight and the personality. Accept it and realize, that you are blessed (Ofcourse, there’s always scope for growth and one should never stop working hard to be where they want to be). But accept it, be grateful for it and stay focused and live a healthy life.

There is no competition in Destiny. Each has his own.

Comparison AND Competition are the thief of JOY.

It kills the Joy of Living your Own Life. Run your own Race, one which leads to a peaceful, happy and steady life. Seek adventure if it suits you, seek competition if it brings out the best in you, but don’t let it pull you down or rob you of your joy or self-love.

I hope you find this helpful or atleast it provokes your thinking engines. Until next time!

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Guilty-Pleasure Chocolate Cupcakes

Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Egg-less Cupcakes
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PREP TIME – 15 mins

COOK TIME – 20 mins

SERVES – 12-15 portions

INGREDIENTS: –

  • 1 Cup Oats Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Dark Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 3/4 Cup Raw Sugar (ground)
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 Tsp Instant Coffee Powder

METHOD: –

  • In a bowl sift all dry ingredients; Oats Flour, Cocoa Powder, Baking Soda and Baking Powder.
  • In another bowl mix all wet ingredients, first the raw sugar and coconut oil, then add in Vanilla extract, Coffee and Milk-Mix well.
  • Slowly mix the dry and wet ingredients together; remember not to over-mix or else you will get dense cupcakes.
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  • Once the batter is formed, pre-heat your oven to 180C and fill your cupcake liners a little between half to two-third of the liner.
  • Heat the cupcakes for 20mins at 160C, keep an eye on the cupcakes and check once at 15mins depending on your oven heat.
  • Remove the cupcakes from the cupcake tray & enjoy hot or let them cool down for 15 mins and consume. 🙂

NOTES: – You could add melted chocolate on top but we liked a simple sliced almond crust since the cupcakes are going to be gooey thanks to the Oats Flour and Milk.

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Banana and Apple Protein Snack

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PREP TIME – 10 mins

COOK TIME – 10 mins

SERVES – 2

INGREDIENTS: –

  • 1 Apple
  • 1 Banana
  • 3-4 Tbsp of Peanut Butter (I used Crunchy Peanut Butter)
  • 1 Tbsp Honey
  • 1 Tsp Protein Powder
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Flax Seeds

METHOD: –

1. Slice the Banana and Apple.

2. Spread the Peanut Butter on top of the Banana and Apple slices.

3. Sprinkle the Pumpkin seeds and Flax Seeds and Protein Powder on top.

4. Drizzle Honey.

Ta da – Enjoy you Banana and Apple Protein Snacks ❤

NOTES: – You can drizzle dark chocolate on top. You can also add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon powder and chia seeds.

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