Posts Tagged 'Nutrition'

The Top 10 Fitness Myths Of 2015

fitness-myths

When it comes to fitness its often hard to sort the fact from fiction. It seems that everyone these days has an opinion and everyone is a self-appointed fitness expert. Today we will count down the Top 10 Fitness Myths of 2015.

10. You shouldn’t eat carbohydrates after 5pm

 Your metabolism doesn’t have a watch and suddenly stop burning carbohydrates at 5pm or any other time for that matter. Eat carbohydrates at any time of day just go easy on the cake, biscuits and less nutritious choices.

 9. Lifting weights will make women bulky

 Many come to this conclusion after seeing photos of female bodybuilders. But its not just lifting weights that have made these women bulky, its also steroids, taking growth hormones and eating a ton of food.

 8. You can’t lose weight without doing cardio

 To lose weight all you need to do is expend more calories than you consume. How you do this is completely up to you. Many like to do cardio when trying to lose weight but it is by no means essential.

7. Carnitine is a potent fat burning supplement

 The research has been done and this supplement is without doubt nothing but unsubstantiated hype. Carnitine won’t help you lose fat and even in suggested doses can have some seriously unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects.

 6. Cardio should only be done early morning on an empty stomach when trying to lose body fat

 If you prefer to do your cardio first thing in the morning before breakfast that’s perfectly fine, but it is certainly not essential for fat loss. Once again the most important ingredient for fat loss is expending more calories than you consume.

 5. High protein diets are essential for fat loss

 The best fat loss diet is one that you can stick to. Most dieters quickly find that all or nothing fad diets don’t work for long term fat loss, try to eat smaller portions and increase your physical activity when aiming for fat loss.

 4. Lifting weights for high repetitions is necessary to tone muscles

 There is no such thing as toning muscles, they can only be built or maintained. If you can lift a weight for more than 15 repetitions its time to increase the weight.

 3. Creatine is a dangerous supplement

 Not many supplements are backed by strong scientific research, but creatine has been proven to significantly increase muscle strength and shorten between set recoveries. It has also been shown to be perfectly safe for those without any significant health conditions.

 2. Carbohydrates make you fat

 Poor old carbohydrates really have a bad reputation, but it really is undeserved, as they certainly don’t make you fat unless eaten in quantities that increase your calorie intake well beyond your needs.

 1. Isolation exercises are more important than compound exercises when trying to build muscle

 Compound exercises are actually vastly superior to isolation exercises when you want to build muscle. Isolation exercises only work one muscle group whereas compound movements work multiple muscle groups.

Summing it all up

 Well there we have it, the Top 10 Fitness Myths of 2015. If your trainer has told you any of these myths it may be time to start looking for a new one. Remember that when it comes to fitness everyone has an opinion, next time you hear something that just doesn’t seem right be sure to do some research before diving in head first and believing the latest myth. When seeking reliable fitness advice be sure to carefully check the qualifications of your trainer.

Understanding the Glycemic Index

Have you heard about low GI foods? This video by Catherine Saxelby provides a great explanation of the glycemic index and gives some advice on how to incorporate such foods in your diet.

Weight Loss 101: Cut the Nonsense and Get Back to Basics

Working in the Australian health and fitness industry, I find it quite concerning the amount of weight loss nonsense that gets promoted by many supposed ‘experts’. This often leaves the consumer frustrated, confused and lighter in the wallet.  So here are my updated and foolproof weight loss steps. Best of all they are not tainted by self-interest. I don’t have any supplements to sell you, don’t mind if you have a trainer already and couldn’t care less if you say thank you.

STEP 1: First throw out all the stupid diet books, pills and shakes that the fruitcake Naturopath / Clinical Nutritionist / Nutritional Medicine hippie at the health food store sold you. Also, unless you are pregnant or have a specific medical issue it is unlikely that you need to take vitamin or mineral supplements. And incase you are wondering, this includes the Juice Plus+ supplement you were tricked into buying for you and your family.

STEP 2: Ignore anyone spruiking a very restrictive diet regime. These people are often found at your local gym where they preach the supposed benefits of their latest diet. Their enthusiasm for their regime ebbs and flows, depending on how convinced they are that they have found the silver bullet they were looking for. Unfortunately much like Santa the silver bullet does not exist.

STEP 3: Start keeping a food diary until you get your diet under control. Write down everything that goes in your mouth, if it is food or drink it has to be written down.  Make sure you write down everything you consume as you do it. If you wait to the end of the day you WILL forget or underestimate how much you had.

STEP 4: Examine your food diary and aim to improve your diet gradually. Eating well isn’t hard but it takes a little commitment. Start by reducing portion sizes, increasing fruit and vegetables, cutting out high sugar/ high fat foods, reducing alcohol consumption and drinking more water. If you are unsure how to go about healthy eating and need some specific guidelines see the Federal Government’s Healthy Eating website.

STEP 5: Get off your butt and get moving! It doesn’t matter what you do, the best exercise is one that you enjoy and will keep doing in the long run. Start slowly and gradually increase the frequency and intensity of your exercise sessions.  If you have not been physically active recently or have any health conditions I recommend you consult your doctor first.

Best of luck and let me know how you go!

– Chris Vavakis

Image source:

Should I Supplement with Creatine?

Lately i’ve been getting a lot of questions from clients about creatine supplementation and the potential benefits for bodybuilders and recreational weight trainers. Creatine is certainly one of the most popular supplements around, attracting a ton of hype and plenty of misinformation.

So, I thought it was time to get the information from the most reliable source and had a look at Sports Dieticians Australia’s (SDA) website. It turns out they have produced a great fact sheet on the topic, so just follow the link below. This will allow you to make a decision about creatine supplementation based on reliable scientific evidence.

If you would like clarification on anything creatine related feel free to contact me or  SDA direct.

Creatine supplementation and sports performance – Fact sheet

Image source:

Not all Oils are created equal

I was recently interviewed by a journalist from In Good Health newsletter on the topic of oils in the diet. Unfortunately the newsletter is members only, so I’ve decided to post the questions and my answers here on the blog. Have a read of my answers on this very important topic and let me know what you think.

1. What types of oils are better for your health? Why?

Health authorities recommend that we choose oils that are comprised predominately of mono-unsaturated and / or polyunsaturated fat. Dietary fats are named according to their structure. Each type of fat has a different structure and because of this, the effect each fat has on the body can differ.

Mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can both have a positive impact on health. Mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can result in a lowering of blood cholesterol when they replace saturated fats in the diet. The positive effect of polyunsaturated fats is marginally greater than that of mono-unsaturated fats.

Oils that provide predominately mono-unsaturated fat: Olive oil, canola oil, and peanut oil

Oils that provide predominately polyunsaturated fat: safflower oil, sunflower, corn and soy oils


2. What types of oils are worse for your health? Why?

Research shows that saturated fats contribute to the risk of heart disease by raising low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels in the blood. It is recommended that the consumption of these fats via oils or food products be kept to a minimum.

Oils that provide high levels of saturated fat: coconut oil and palm oil.

Food products that provide high levels of saturated fat: high fat fast foods, commercial biscuits and pastries, butter, lard and shortening.


3. Typically, how much oil do you recommend we have in our diet?

 The ‘Australian Guide to Healthy Eating’ recommends that for good health and to help maintain a healthy weight we should limit saturated fat and moderate total fat intake. Consuming polyunsaturated and mono-unsaturated oils in small amounts will help meet this recommendation. It is important to note that oils that are predominately mono-unsaturated fat and / or polyunsaturated fat will still contain some saturated fat.


4. Do you recommend any alternatives to oil?

Predominately polyunsaturated or mono-unsaturated margarines can be used as alternatives to oil. Examples would include margarine derived from canola, sunflower seeds or olives.


5. Is there anything else you would like to add?

A number of manufacturers like to promote their plant-based oils as ‘cholesterol free’. Consumers should note that only animal products contain cholesterol. Therefore all plant-based oils will be cholesterol free regardless of whether the manufacturer promotes it or not.


– Chris Vavakis


Image: http://assets.curbly.com/photos/0000/0010/5837/how-olive-oil-works-3.jpg

Weight Loss 101: Get Real and Cut the Crap!

So you want to lose some weight? I’m going to give you some simple NO BULLSHIT advice about how you can go about it. Best of all you don’t have to spend a cent.

STEP 1: First throw out all the stupid diet books, pills, shakes and supplements that the fruitcake Naturopath at the health food store sold you. There is no magic bullet nor do you need one, you CAN do this by yourself.

STEP 2: Start keeping a food diary. Write down everything that goes in your mouth, if it is food or drink it has to be written down.  Make sure you write down everything you consume as you do it. If you wait to the end of the day you WILL forget or underestimate how much you had.

STEP 3: Examine your food diary and aim to improve your diet gradually. Eating well isn’t hard but it takes a little commitment. Start by reducing portion sizes, increasing fruit and vegetables, cutting out high sugar/ high fat foods, reducing alcohol consumption and drinking more water. If you are unsure how to go about healthy eating and need some specific guidelines see the Federal Government’s Healthy Eating website.

STEP 4: Get off your butt and get moving! It doesn’t matter what you do, it is often said that the best exercise is one that you enjoy and will keep doing in the long run. Start slowly and gradually increase the frequency and intensity of your exercise sessions.  If you have not been physically active recently or have any health conditions I recommend you consult your doctor first.

Best of luck and let me know how you go!

Chris Vavakis

Top 5: Winter Exercise & Nutrition Tips

1. Buddy up

Having a training partner with similar goals will help push your training to the next level. It will also stop you hitting snooze on those cold mornings when exercise is the last thing you want to do.

2. Keep a daily food diary

It’s hard to stay on track when the weather is wet and miserable. Write down everything you eat and drink throughout the day. This will help you stay accountable and may well be an eye opener. Research consistently shows those who keep a food diary lose more weight than those who don’t.

3. Plan for the weekend

It can be difficult to eat well and pass on having a few too many alcoholic drinks when socializing with friends. But you don’t have to miss out if you plan for it. Being strict on yourself during the week will allow you to have some fun on the weekend and still reach your goals.

4. Exercise indoors

The cold and wet weather is not an excuse to give exercise a miss. Exercising in the comfort of your home is both cheap and effective. Why not purchase or hire some home fitness equipment or even an instructional exercise DVD.

5. Personal Training

Book some training sessions with a reputable personal trainer. A good trainer will help you achieve your goals in a safe and timely manner. Many will also come to your home or office during the cold and wet winter months.