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Bringing you the latest in health and fitness


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Role of Genetics and Heredity Obesity


I have some friends who tell me that their obesity is simply due to their genetics. Is this true?

Because each person is born with a unique genetic composition, losing bodyfat and keeping it off can be more challenging for some people than others.

Your genes can influence how quickly you feel full when eating, how physically active you are prone to be, and your metabolic rate, for example. As a result, some people may be genetically more vulnerable to gaining weight and certain environmental triggers can make these people more susceptible to becoming obese.

So what percentage of the population is obese because of genetics? Some scientists claim that most obesity cases are influenced by genetics, some claim that the influence is negligible, and many believe that the right explanation rests between the two views.

Some scientists believe that certain inherited genes don’t necessarily make individuals obese, they merely give them a predisposition for becoming obese, but it is the learned or acquired behaviours of overeating and inactivity that cause the weight gain.

While science shows that heredity is linked to obesity, it is impossible to pinpoint the degree of correlation. There is little debate, however, over the genetic determination of body shape. Some people are more likely to put weight on their hips and thighs, and this is harder to lose than belly fat.

‘Obesity runs in my family, and it is impossible for me to lose weight’ is a classic excuse for not trying to lose weight, and it can be a convenient way of blaming others for an individual’s state.

Obesity tends to run in some families, suggesting a genetic link. But families also share diet and lifestyle habits that contribute to obesity. There seems to be a greater chance that people are heavy because of conditioned behaviours they learned from their family, than because of genetics.

People can still succeed with fat loss despite a genetic predisposition to gain weight, although it may take more work and patience, and perhaps medical intervention.

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The Basics


Don’t persist with exercises, routines or methods that do not help you. If your training has not yielded any progress over the last two months, it is unlikely top yield any progress over the next two months. Make changes!

Training failures are valuable learning experiences that can help you to succeed with subsequent efforts. What could you have done differently that would have improved the outcome? What did you learn that you can put to good use next time? If you approach your training failures and setbacks with a positive attitude, you will use them to increase your chance of success in the future.

Use your gym time wisely. Follow brief but hard training, use exercises suited to you, and strive to add a little more weight every week or two to each exercise. Use a balance programme that includes cardio and stretching. Even if you train well, if you don’t satisfy all the components of recuperation you will not be able to make much, if any progress.

It is amazing how many gym-goers and athletes are negligent with their nutrition and sleep. Everyday you must eat well and sleep well if you want to optimise your recuperation. Do not undermine your training by cutting corners of the gym.


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When You Are Sick, Is It A Good Idea To Workout?


Dedication is great, but training while you are sick does not help anybody. You should stay away from any training or other activity if you are not well. You are better off getting some rest and then coming back to the gym when you are healthy. Keep in mind that every time you go to the gym you need to give 100% to achieve your desired results. If your training intensity is compromised because you are sick you will not reach your goals. Unless your goal is to make other people sick, and you do not want to do that, you will be just wasting your time. Therefore, stay at home, get better, and come back ready to train hard.


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Lifting Weight But Gaining Weight?


I started lifting to lose weight. I felt I was making progress, but I just weighed myself for the first time in a month and found I have actually gained weight. What am I doing wrong?

The only mistake you are making is letting the scale dictate how well you are doing. Muscle weighs more than fat, so if you are training hard you should expect to gain weight in the form of muscle. Even though you are gaining weight, you are most likely looking better overall. Focus on what the mirror shows. If you are looking better and you are leaner, that is a positive result. You are swapping fat for muscle, proof that your program is working.


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Constantly Hungry Since Starting Training?


I’m finding that, since I started training, I’m constantly hungry. Why is that? Should I worry?

That hunger is normal, and it is a good sign. Training boosts your metabolism, so when you start training, you should feel much hungrier than you did before. Feed that appetite. Your body needs the extra calories, and if you expect to grow, you should eat. Naturally, if you fulfil your cravings with foods high in salt, sugar or unhealthy fats, you are not doing yourself and favours. Eat clean foods and your starving muscles will respond with growth.

If your goal is to lose weight, here are some ways to help you avoid feeling hungry without over indulging and hopefully lose weight in the process.

Get lots of healthy, high-fibre foods in your diet. Most high-fibre foods require more chewing, which helps to satisfy hunger. High-fibre foods are usually bulky so they fill up your stomach faster and can also delay the time it takes your stomach to empty. Also, many high-fibre foods are low in calories, so you can satisfy your hunger with fewer calories. Whole grains, vegetables and fruits are great sources of fibre.

Spread out your calories by eating five to six small meals as opposed to three large ones during the day. If you wait too long for a large meal, you will be starving and tempted to overindulge by the time you eat. Eating more frequent, smaller meals helps keep you full and lets you stay in control.

Slow down when you are eating. It takes our body about 20 minutes to realise that it is full. If you eat quickly, you will consume extra calories while your body is figuring out whether it’s hungry. By the time your body realises it is full, you have already eaten more than you needed. If you eat slowly, your brain will start sending signals to stop eating at the right time. This is another reason to spread your calories out during the day – you won’t be starving when it is time to eat, so you will take your time eating.