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Cut fat: Limit simple sugars

If one of your goals is to create a leaner body, then limit simple sugars Non-fibre carbohydrates are digested and used to produce energy.

If one of your goals is to create a leaner body, then limit simple sugars

Non-fibre carbohydrates are digested and used to produce energy. Unfortunately, if you over-consume carbs, you have a limited ability to store them for future use, since excesses are converted to fat and deposited in the body.

The carbohydrate category has two sub-types: simple sugars and complex carbohydrates. While simple sugars are closest in nature to blood glucose, complex carbohydrates are long strings of simple sugars. Carbohydrates are digested very quickly, broken down into their sugar sub-units and absorbed into the bloodstream.

How we rank a carbohydrate along the nutrition continuum has a lot to do with how much sugar it holds, how quickly the sugar moves into the bloodstream, the fibre content and how many other nutrients the food holds.

Simple sugars move quickly into the bloodstream, while complex carbohydrates require more digestion to break down into single sugar units. When carbohydrates move quickly into the bloodstream, they have greater potential to overload the blood with glucose and contribute to fat storage.

The way to liberate fat is to choose your carbohydrates wisely and keep blood sugar balanced.

Simple sugars are found in table sugar, maple syrup, honey and milk, among other sources. Grains and vegetables contain digestible complex carbohydrates.

If we look at the carbohydrate continuum, the poorest choice is a refined simple sugar (such as white cane sugar), while next might be a colourful simple sugar that offers some minerals but no fibre (such as maple sugar).

White pasta contains complex carbohydrates and offers some vitamins and minerals and moderate fibre. Complex carbohydrates in vegetables offer sustained energy, fibre and abundant vitamins and minerals, making them an ideal choice to meet your carb needs.

Fruit contains both simple sugars and complex carbohydrates, although avoid over indulging in tropical, high-sugar choices. The best time for sugar tolerance is right after you exercise. Following fitness sessions, your cells take up sugar at a faster rate, sparing the bloodstream from carbohydrate excesses.

- Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence

When most people put a training program together, they focus on the workout, but it's also important to consider R and R - recovery and rest. While these terms are often used interchangeably, recovery technically refers to down time within a workout session, while rest refers to the time between workouts.

During workouts, your body will be challenged, resulting in some breakdown and fatigue. Fatigue results from a number of factors, including depletion of fuel stores (i.e. carbohydrates), dehydration and production of lactic acid (feel the burn!). Small micro tears also occur in your muscles.

Providing your body with recovery periods during a workout will allow you to work at optimal intensity throughout your training session. Taking adequate rest between workouts will enable your muscles to rebuild and repair to a level that's stronger than prior to your workout.

If you don't give your muscles adequate time to rest, they could end up in a perpetual state of breaking down rather than regenerating to a stronger level.

It seems counterintuitive, but you actually get stronger during the rest phase between workouts and not during the workout itself. Inadequate rest can also lead to overtraining and overuse injuries.

So how much recovery and rest do you actually need? For aerobic training, activities can be performed up to six or seven days a week. Start gradually and progressively increase the frequency of your workouts so you're not doing too much too soon. If you are doing activities most days of the week, try to add variety or vary the intensity so your activities don't cause the same continual stress on your body.

If you're doing interval training for some of your cardio workouts, use active recovery to keep the body moving. For example, move from a run or jog to a walk.

Even though you're still moving, the lower-intensity walk will allow recovery to take place and help you perform your next highintensity interval at an optimal level.

For resistance training, consider the recovery period between sets of each exercise. Generally, the heavier the weights, the fewer repetitions you will be able to perform and the more recovery time you'll need between sets.

If your goal is to improve muscle endurance, do 12 to 20 reps with 30 to 60 seconds for recovery between sets.

To increase muscle size, do six to 12 reps with 30 to 90 seconds between sets. To improve muscle strength, do one to six reps, with two to five minutes between sets.

If you're worried about the time to incorporate adequate recovery, you can try alternating exercises for opposing muscle groups. In other words, after you do one set of a chest exercise (i.e. push-up), go right into one set of a back exercise (i.e. row).

You don't need to recover in between because as the back is working during its set, the chest has a chance to recover and vice-versa.

Alternating exercises is a time-efficient way to incorporate adequate recovery into resistance-training workouts.

It's also important that muscles get adequate rest between workouts. Typically, you should allow 48 hours between workouts that target the same muscle group.

If you're performing a full-body workout, exercise on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, for example. If you would like to lift weights more frequently, split up your workouts.

For example, you could do upper-body exercises on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and lower-body exercises on Tuesday and Thursday. This works in a similar way to recovery between weight sets - as the lower body is working on Tuesday, the upper body is resting from Monday's workout.

To enhance regeneration during rest periods, ensure you're getting adequate sleep and nutrition. Ingest an appropriate recovery snack and remember that an Epsom salt bath can also help the muscles relax.

- Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence