Pumping Up with Sai

Article by Sai Gopalan


Health and fitness! What is your perception of these simple words? Does it bring up feelings of energy, strength, pride, and confidence? Or that of pain, embarrassment, sacrifice and burden? Like everything we do in life, our perceptions influence our feelings and our feelings influence our effort. If you have strong, positive feelings towards something, clearly your effort and behaviour will match this positive feeling. However, if you have strong negative feelings towards something, your effort and behaviour will match your feelings. Simple concept, yes? Even so, it’s something that so many are unable to control and instead let their feelings control them.

So how do we change our perceptions, and thus our effort? Firstly, the old saying that knowledge is power could not be more true. No matter what your fitness goals are, whether you want to lose weight, improve your health or build more lean muscle, a word that should never be neglected is METABOLISM. Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. This is the secret of training, because what you eat and how you train affects how much muscle you gain and how much fat you lose throughout the day. That’s right, muscle gain and weight loss is achieved outside the gym during your rest periods. Sometimes, how you exercise and how you diet can become crucial to your fitness goals, because sometimes dieting or the wrong exercise can actually cause weight gain!

One of the oldest myths of losing weight is dieting. Eating less means less calorie intake, which must lead to weight loss, right? Not exactly. If you eat less calories than what your body needs to fully function, your body goes into starvation mode, because it thinks you are literally starving. This means your metabolism slows down to ensure it doesn’t burn too many calories, which eventually causes metabolic damage. Also, eating only two or three times a day means that your metabolism is being used less. Every time you eat, your metabolism activates to break down the food you intake. Like a muscle, the more it is used, but not over used, the stronger and more efficient it becomes. Clearly, eating less can be harmful, especially if you have an inactive style and what you do eat is filled with processed carbs and sugars. Often, overweight people may actually not eat that much but simply have severe metabolic damage.

So, how can you improve your metabolism with food? Familiarize yourself the weight loss foods: nuts, bananas, green tea, lean protein such as chicken breast and fish, vegetables, pineapples, apples, and many more are great for boosting your metabolism and also keeping you feeling full for longer. You’ll want to eat at least three meals a day and at least two snacks in between, such as fruits, nuts or veg. Of course, your meals should avoid processed carbs and other fatty foods.

Exercise greatly influences metabolic rates as well. Ten-minute interval training can result in more fat loss then a 40 min run. How is that possible? In the coming months, I’ll be using this space to share more diet and exercise secrets. Everyone’s needs are different, but I’ll try to give you all the knowledge you need to create a perfect, personalized fitness plan on your own. Let this be the beginning of the new you!