Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Supplements vs. food: What’s really necessary?

If you’re interested in sports and nutrition, chances are you’ve heard of dietary supplements. Almost any micro or macronutrient that you need, is available to you in the form of powders or capsules.
In sports, dietary supplements are an extremely hot topic. And…. a highly debatable one. Muscle development, regeneration and a boost in performance are just some of the advantages that manufacturers advertise. But what exactly are dietary supplements? Are they really necessary? And which natural foods can we eat instead?

What are dietary supplements?

Just like it says on the tin, dietary supplements are there to supplement your normal nutrition. Available in powder or capsule form, they can contain vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids and fiber as well. Dietary supplements which solely consist of protein are also found in sports.

Do we really need supplements?

People need micro and macronutrients such as proteins, vitamins and minerals for the body to function, and perform at it’s best. If we follow a healthy and balanced diet, we will obtain all the important materials that our body needs. In this case, taking dietary supplements wouldn’t be necessary.

However, in some cases there may be an increased need for certain macro or micronutrients which, despite a balanced and diverse diet, cannot be covered or can only be covered with great difficulty. In this case, the use of dietary supplements makes sense. An example is folic acid, a B vitamin that is required in increased quantities before and during pregnancy. Folic acid supplements are recommended by doctors to protect the growing baby from complications.

If you’re an athlete, then you too could have an increased need for certain macro and micronutrients. Due to physical activity, you’ll need more of these nutrients than people who are not as active.

Pros and cons of using dietary supplements

Dietary supplements contain nutrients in a highly-concentrated form. Therefore any intake recommendations and requirements are met pretty quickly. Taking dietary supplements can also have a psychological and motivating effect. But not all that glitter is gold. Dietary supplements are expensive and, if used incorrectly, can lead to side effects. Overdosing on individual nutrients upset the balance of nutrients, thereby harming the body. Furthermore, relying only on the use of dietary supplements to improve performance,  there is the risk of neglecting other factors that are important.

All the micro and macronutrients that dietary supplements contain can also be found in natural foods. Here we will present you with 3 dietary supplements and which foods you could choose instead.


Iron, a component of red blood cells, plays a role in transporting oxygen. Red blood cells become increasingly-destroyed through high mechanical stress, for example during high intensity training. Iron is an essential building block for creating new ones. Therefore you, as an athlete, should ensure that you include enough iron in your diet. But this doesn’t have to be in the form of supplements.

The following foods contain iron: Meat, green leafy vegetables, parsley, dried lentils or carrots

Caution: There are substances that hamper iron intake, such as oxalic acid, which is found in spinach, although spinach contains a rich amount of iron. However, oxalic acid prevents the body from absorbing the entire amount. So it’s not just important for food to have a high iron content; the quantity that the body can actually absorb is essential as well. In contrast, Vitamin C and amino acids work to support iron intake.


Creatine is the most well-known dietary supplement in sports. Creatine is synthesized in the liver and kidneys from amino acids glycine, arginine and methionine. Creatine improves muscle development and plays a general role in our body, when energy needs to be supplied quickly. The body is able to synthesize about half of the creatine itself. The other half must be ingested through food.

 Creatine sources: Meat and fish, mainly red meat such as beef and lamb


Zinc, a component of numerous enzymes in our body, is responsible for functioning cell metabolism. Large amounts of zinc are lost due to increased sweating during physical activity.

Here’s how you can meet your zinc requirements: Emmental and Edam cheese, oats, oysters or pumpkin seeds

Caution: Overdosing on trace elements can lead to serious side effects such as nausea and vomiting. Furthermore, there is a risk of copper deficiency, since zinc binds to copper, thereby inhibiting its absorption in the body.

Supplements isn’t an easy topic. Before deciding to take them do the research. Find out if they are really necessary for you. And remember, all these supplements can be found in natural food. A healthy, balanced diet is always a winner.

 source :

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Six pack abs do not define health, and if you want them prepare to sacrifice your social life

Consistency is the key for long-term health and fitness, says Karen Coghlan. 

Spot reduction refers to the belief that fat can be targeted for reduction from a specific area of the body.

For example, we are led to believe:
◊ If you have stubborn belly fat, you need to do more sit-ups

◊ If you have stubborn upper arm fat, you need to do more tricep extensions
◊ If you have stubborn leg fat, you need to do more step-ups.

However, despite popular belief, spot reduction is not possible. Sure, muscle building is site specific: you can indeed build muscle in specific areas by targeting specific muscles using the right weights and rep scheme.

If you want to build shapely glutes, then you incorporate more squats and glute bridges into your workout. 

If you want a wider back, then you incorporate more pull-ups and rowing exercise into your workout.
But if you want to reveal a set of six-pack abs? Then the last thing you need is to incorporate more crunches and bicycles into your workout.

The draw of the six pack
We all inherently have six-pack abs. They are just hidden underneath a layer of subcutaneous fat, however, shredded abs come at a very high cost.

A healthy level of body fat is somewhere between 11pc-22pc for men and between 22pc-33pc for women. To reveal "six-pack" abs, body fat needs to be sub 10pc for men and sub 20pc for women.
Having "six-pack" abs does not define health. In some cases, it takes very drastic and extreme measures to reach low enough levels of body fat before abs are visible.

Even at super low levels, some people will never reveal a set of abs, simply due to their body being built differently. Consistently adhering to an extremely strict diet and exercise routine is not normal and requires intense focus, dedication, and plenty of sacrifices.

It means skipping nights out to spend more time at the gym. It means foregoing the weekend takeaway to plan and prep all your meals for the week ahead. It means possibly not having a sex life as libido diminishes due to malnourishment.

You have to ask yourself is the trade-off worth it? Are you willing to risk feeling like crap on the inside just so you can look super lean on the outside?
If the answer is yes, then just be aware of the enduring and exhausting process that lie ahead.
Plan, adhere, track, adjust, repeat
If you decide that being healthy and achieving a "normal" level of leanness is more of a priority, then you will still need a certain level of consistency after you have put an action plan in place.

Fat loss is not site specific in the same manner as muscle building is. Yes, any exercise or physical activity will help accelerate the fat-loss process, but the energy deficit it creates, which is required for fat loss, is usually less than expected. In other words, endless reps of a certain exercise in a certain area will not help to target your stubborn fat. Where on your body you will lose fat from first depends on your sex and your genetic profile. Neither of which we can change.

Women tend to store more body fat than men, and store it primarily around the hips, legs and belly. Men, on the other hand, tend to store more visceral fat (surrounding the internal organs in the tummy region) than women.

Therefore, when women lose body fat, they typically lose it from the top down and the fat in the lower body is the last to go, regardless of exercise selection.

So what is the solution?
A sound nutrition plan, time, patience, adherence, and consistency.
All too often, people hop from one diet to another without giving enough time to reap the benefits of their efforts, expecting dramatic weight loss after just two or three weeks. When that doesn't happen, they blame the diet, accuse it of "not working" and move on to the next latest and greatest fad.

But is the diet really not working or are you just not adhering to it? Following a diet doesn't mean following it for three of your main meals a day and then eating whatever it is that tickles your fancy outside of your meal times.

It also doesn't mean following it Monday to Friday and then making up for the lost time with your favourite treats all day Saturday and Sunday. For ANY diet to work, you have to stick to it. You need to be 80pc-90pc consistent with your dieting efforts, depending on how conservative your goals are.

If you are unhappy with your progress, then perhaps you need to be more honest with yourself.

What hidden sources of calories are you are not considering? Sauces? Condiments? Mindless snacking and grazing? Are you counting liquid calories? Are you eating when not hungry? How often are you having treats?

You do not need to drastically overhaul your diet overnight. One small change at a time, one after the other, will eventually lead to great results. But when you do make that change, then you need to be consistent with it, not just some of the time when it suits you, but 80pc-90pc of time even when it doesn't.

Track. Adjust. Repeat.

The results will follow.

 Karen is a nutrition coach and personal trainer. She runs monthly online group nutrition coaching programmes and hosts nutrition seminars around the country. See


Wednesday, October 14, 2015


By Mariane Wray - WBC Coach

(Adapted from the American Council on Exercise Advanced Health & Fitness Specialist Manual)

Life has changed since I was young. No longer do kids roam the neighbourhood for hours on end with their friends, and turn up at someone's house when they get hungry. No, now we live in apartments, travel everywhere in cars, take our kids to after school tuition, and place more importance on academic achievement than physical movement.

Well, turns out that physical movement is likely to have a direct impact on academic ability, among other things. More on this later.

Youth & Obesity:

Physical activity amongst children and adolescents (youth) is becoming a major public health concern. Look around, its easy to spot fat kids these days. I don't remember any kids being overweight when I was a child, and nor should they be. This problem is so significant, that health agencies are predicting that the youth of this generation will not experience life as long as their parents, due to the increase in weight related illness and disease.

In the U.S, the prevalence of childhood obesity has tripled over the past few decades, and Type II Diabetes (once called adult onset diabetes) is now being diagnosed in adolescents. Although there are relatively few studies on youth obesity in developing countries, the information that is available suggests that changes in dietary practices and an increase in time spent in  sedentary activity have caused an increasing prevalence of childhood obesity in developing countries such as Malaysia[1].

In Malaysia, the recent industrialisation and urbanisation has brought about changes in lifestyle. These changes include differences in diet and physical activity, which are known to be associated with changes in health and an increase in chronic diseases[2]

Local studies[3] highlight the increase in nutrition and weight related diseases, across age, ethnicity, and location of residence (urban vs. rural) in Malaysia. Malaysian adults are currently the fattest in South East Asia, and it appears as though this trend is being passed on to their offspring.

Sedentary habits gained during childhood and adolescence increases the risk of developing major health problems such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and osteoporosis later in life. The onset of diabetes in youth is especially of concern, as it means that conditions related to this disease, such as blindness, amputations and kidney failure, will occur earlier in life. Youth obesity is associated with mental health problems, such as depression and low self-esteem. This is difficult to assess and treat here in Malaysia, given the stigma associated with mental health conditions, and the limitations of the health system to deal with these issues.

Obese youth often report having fewer friends, are more likely to be teased about their weight and ostracised by their peers. They miss more days of school, which may significantly impact upon the quality of the education they receive. Obese youth also report a diminished quality of life in comparison with their healthy weight peers.

How has this happened in Malaysia?

How have these significant health issues developed amongst Malaysians? Particularly when this country has had the luxury of observing mistakes made in the developed world?

picture from Google Images

Instead of active, unstructured outdoor play, youth are spending more time with electronic media. Time outside of school is more and more taken up with sedentary tuition, and leisure time is spent online or with electronic devices. In addition, high energy snack foods and beverages are easily accessible and affordable, and many youth are not meeting the minimal nutrition recommendations of five servings of vegetables and fruit each day. Schools are reducing or eliminating play time, in favour of more study time, and many Malaysian schools do not have outdoor equipment for children to play on and develop movement skills. Urbanisation often involves living in a condominium or high rise, where getting outside is difficult, and childhood activities such as bike riding are impossible on Malaysian roads and in the suburbs.

Benefits of Physical Activity in Youth:

So obesity and overweight in children and adolescents is a significant problem, but one that is not insurmountable. Efforts to increase physical activity during childhood and adolescence are likely to have favourable health benefits in later years, most noticeably the absence of weight related illness and disease. Behaviours acquired during youth that promote health are likely to be carried on into adulthood. These physical activity habits established during childhood and adolescence may have the greatest impact on longevity and mortality - meaning that if your child participates in physical activity now, they are likely to engage in physical activity habits as adults, and live a longer, healthier life than their sedentary peers.
Not only may the physical activity habits you instil in your child today help them to live a healthier, longer life, but they are likely to experience many of the other significant health benefits associated with physical activity. Some of these are listed below.

Benefits to Youth of Physical Activity:

   Increased muscular fitness

   Increased aerobic fitness

   Increased bone density

   Reduction of body fat

   Improved motor skills

   Enhanced sports performance

   Increased resistance to injury

   Enhanced psychological well-being

   Positive social interactions with peers

   Increased self-esteem

   Improved attitude towards lifelong physical activity

   Enhanced academic performance

Physical Activity & Academic Achievement:

Although research on the effects of physical activity and exercise on academic performance is sparse, technological advances in this area are examining this relationship further. However, previous studies have concluded a significant and positive relationship between physical activity and cognitive functioning in children[4]. Providing opportunities for your child to engage in physical activities not only has the potential to increase the quality and quantity of their lives, but also to improve their cognitive abilities and academic performance.

Youth Physical Activity Recommendations:

Current physical activity recommendations for youth are at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous activity. This does not have to be all in one go, and ideally children prefer to take this activity in 5 to 10 minute bursts - watch them play, and you will notice this. This activity can be made up of several 10 - 15 minute sessions, and should occur naturally throughout their day through activities like playing at school, participating in organised physical activities, or being allowed to play with friends outside.

Junior Bootcamp:

In light of the information above, organised youth physical activity programmes are of major importance in Malaysia. In a country where outdoor activity is avoided, and sedentary lifestyles are increasing, Junior Bootcamp offers youth the opportunity to get outside and play in a fun, safe environment that meets the minimum daily recommendations for youth activity. Junior Bootcamp is a supportive environment that challenges the junior warriors physically,  but allows them to engage in natural, developmental behaviours and activities. Junior Bootcamp provides the opportunity to make new friends, enjoy the feeling of movement and physical activity, as well as promoting confidence and self-esteem.

So what are you waiting for? Get your kids down to Junior Bootcamp this Saturday!

For ages 6 - 9 & 10 - 14
for more information please go to

call/ WhatsApp: 012 459 4728


[1] Gupta, N., Goel, K., Shah, P. & Misra, A. (2012) Childhood Obesity in Developing Countries: Epidemiology, Determinants, and Prevention.  Endocrine Reviews, Vol. 33 (1).

[2] Noor, M. I. (2002). The nutrition and health transition in Malaysia. Public Health Nutrition, Vol. 5 (1a), p 191-195.

[3] Noor (2002) & Moy, F.M., Gan, C.Y., and Zaleha, M, K, S. (2004). Body mass status of school children and adolescents in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical  Nutrition,13 (4), p324-329.

[4] Sibley, B.A., & Etnier, J.L. (2003). The relationship between physical activity and cognition in children: A meta-analysis. Paediatric Exercise Science, 15, p 243 - 256. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Fix Your Postures

Your mother was right -- good posture is important! According to the American Chiropractic Association, good posture helps us stand, walk, sit and lie in positions that place the least strain on our muscles and ligaments. Poor posture can lead muscle strain and uneven muscle development and can make you more prone to injury and pain. But proper posture is more than just sitting up straight in your office chair. From how you walk and sleep to how you drive and carry bags, check out these common posture mistakes -- and how to fix them.

 1. Texting

That Candy Crush victory comes at a cost: poor posture from staring down at your phone. According to the latest Nielson study, the average American spends more than 37 hours a month using phone apps, which equals a whole lot of time with your head hanging down, often at a 60-degree angle. A study in the journal Surgical Technology International says the average adult head weighs between 10 to 20 pounds. However, the force of the headed titled down at a 60-degree angle puts 60 pounds of weight on the neck and shoulders. Ouch. This can not only lead to a literal pain in the neck, but also to the risk of cervical tension headaches, neck sprains and herniated disks in your spine.

The simple fix? Spend less time on your phone. Aside from that, modify your texting position. While texting, try to sit or stand upright with your shoulders square and the screen somewhat elevated so you are not looking down as much. Being aware of your back, shoulders and neck will help remind you to avoid a hunched position while you are texting and avoid bad posture problems.

2. Sitting at a Desk

According to a recent Gallup poll, the average American workweek has increased from 40 hours to 47 hours. This means more time sitting at a desk hunched over a computer with your pelvis tilted and your head dropped forward towards the screen. All this sitting and hunching can lead to undue strain on your upper and lower back and neck. While many experts recommend a sitting posture with your back straight, lower back supported against the chair, elbows bent at a 90-degree angle to your body and feet flat on the floor, sitting in this “ideal” position isn’t good for your body if it’s done for hours on end. There is not a single ‘best’ posture to be still in the bulk of the day -- the problem is the all-day stillness. Strive to mix it up throughout the day by changing your work position. Improve your desk posture by adding such variety as sitting cross-legged in a chair, using a standing desk and taking walking breaks.

3. Sleeping

Though many of us aren’t getting the recommended eight hours a night, we still spend roughly a quarter of our lives in bed. All this time under the sheets can have a big impact on our spine health, says Dr. Todd Sinett, a NYC-based chiropractor and author of the upcoming book, “3 Weeks to a Better Back.” “We spend so much of our day curled forward and hunched over our computers and smartphones that our spines are bent forward in a curved C-like pattern. When we get into bed, we want to avoid continuing that C-like pattern.” So what’s the best posture-friendly sleep position? “My overall sentiment is that people should sleep however they are comfortable to ensure their body gets the most rest. But make sure you aren’t sleeping with more than one pillow,” suggests Sinett. “Being propped in bed while you are watching television, reading or sleeping is a recipe for neck and back pain.” Using a pillow between your legs to support your hips is also recommended.

4. Walking

We know getting up and out of our desks is key for our health and longevity, but all walking is not created equal. “One of the biggest posture mistakes I see is that people walk with their feet turned out due to habit, muscle tightness or lack of joint mobility,” says podiatrist to the stars Dr. Emily Splichal. “When we walk with our feet turned out, it alters the push-off phase of gait leading to an inefficient position of the foot and great toe joint.” Instead Splichal suggests, improve your walking posture by keeping your shoulders back, toes pointed straight ahead and maintaining a regular heel-toe pattern. “Remember that walking is supposed to be rhythmic and should have a rock from heel strike to toe push-off,” Splichal says. “With this rolling or rhythmic motion it is easier to ensure proper push-off in a straight foot position as opposed to turning out.”

5. Carrying a Bag

Surveys on and found the average woman’s bag weighed more than six pounds! All this is a recipe for poor posture. Take a look at an adult -- even without an added load, a lot of them still stand with that horrible posture. Now look at the types of heavy bags people carry around: shoulder bags, messenger bags and purses. Each one can impact a person’s posture in a different way, so whether you carry a backpack, clutch or giant shoulder bag, follow these three tips: (1) Pick a lightweight pack that doesn’t add any more weight to what you decide to carry around. (2) Place heavier items close to the body so that it does not add more “pull” away from the body. (3) Think about what you’re carrying, distribute the weight evenly. Be wise and choose what you need to carry around; anything extra is just added weight. The best bag for good posture? A rolling backpack, they are a bit more cumbersome but if you have any injuries, this truly is the best way to avoid further exacerbation.

6. Standing

Think healthy posture is as simple as just standing up straight? Think again, says Dr. Paul Salinas, doctor of chiropractic and certified chiropractic sports physician. “One of the many postural-correction mistakes I find patients practicing is just pulling their shoulders back and lifting their chin up. But good posture is not just an upper-body correction -- it’s a full body effort.” Start with breathing. “Breathing from your diaphragm instead of your chest will help engage your core and improve your posture.” Remember that there are different types of body alignment, so while one person may need to tilt their pelvis forward, another person may need to push their backside out. As a general rule of thumb, though, think about a plumb line being dropped above the center of your head. “That plumb line should intersect through your ears, through your shoulders, hips, knees, ankles. That’s your gravity line. Any time your body falls in front of that gravity line, you are putting stress on your body and your posture will be off -- and the rest of your body compensates to balance.”

7. Driving

You might not think about posture while you drive, but how you sit in your car can play a big role in your daily posture. “Driving posture is one posture mistake that many people don’t think about,” says Dr. Taylor Moore, a Florida-based physical therapist and certified strength and conditioning specialist, who warns that your seat position and recline can leave your back in an unhealthy position. “If the seat is too far backward, the driver must rotate the hips to reach the pedal and brakes” which can lead to back pain or chronically short muscles on one leg and lengthened muscles on the other leg. “Likewise, if the seat is reclined too far back, it places the back in a slouched, rounded position, placing stress on the posterior ligaments and muscles.” Instead, get good driving posture with two simple fixes: (1) Check your seat recline: Your ears should be lined up over the middle of your shoulders and your shoulders located directly over your hips; (2) Check your seat position: Make sure your back is evenly pressed against the seat and your hips are even.