Esta Morenikeji, Author at ZONE FITNESS | Page 2 of 4

All Posts by Esta Morenikeji

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Is The Ketogenic Diet The New Fad Diet?

Is the ketogenic diet the new fad diet?

Short Answer: It depends on who is doing it, and how they’re doing it.

The ketogenic diet, or keto as it’s popularly called, is not new. Physicians have been using as a dietary therapy since the 1920s. It was the original therapeutic diet for treating children with epilepsy.

Long answer

Not too long ago fat was seen as the enemy of fat loss because many believed it was fat that was making us fat.

People who wanted to lose body fat were advised to reduce their dietary fat intake. Dieters paid premium prices for foods that were labelled as, low-fat or fat-free. In the land of dieting, fat was the most hated macronutrient!

But things have changed in recent years. We no longer see fat as the enemy of fat loss because the goalpost has moved, and another macronutrient is taking the backlash. Dieters can now eat as much fat as they want—thanks to Ketogenic diet and low carbs diet.

Congratulations fat! The supreme court of dieting has declared you not guilty. The proclamation: “It’s not fat that makes us fat!”

You’re now the new B.A.E, fat! Let’s make a (bulletproof coffee) toast to your victory!

Is The Ketogenic Diet The Best Solution

Why is it now okay to eat more fat? Did the chemical structures of fat and carbohydrates change? Are carbs dangerous or we are just looking for another food to blame?

My goal with this post is to tell you the truth about carbohydrates and their role in fat gain/fat loss.

Let’s dive in if you’re ready for the truth and nothing but the truth.

 

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2

To Fast is Human: A Simple Guide to Intermittent Fasting

​Back in April 2014, when I wrote my first intermittent fasting article, I was accused of encouraging people to starve themselves. I still remember how a particular weight loss coach carried the matter to her BB group, and I was the topic of their discussion.

Since the time I published that article, there have been new studies on fasting as a modality for weight loss, longevity, disease prevention, and as part of treatment for chronic diseases.

This post is the third update of my intermittent fasting article. I have made significant changes to the original post to reflect current scientific research on intermittent fasting/time-restricted feeding.

Please note that this post is about intermittent fasting only. It doesn’t apply to prolonged fasting (a prolonged fast is any fast that lasts for 48 hours or more).

Enjoy the article.

​What I Used to Believe About Intermittent Fasting

​When I first became a fitness professional, I used to believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Like many other well-meaning fitness pros, I preached the message of “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.” It was the dietary philosophy I lived and preached.

Then I began to read about intermittent fasting and all its health benefits, and I became a proponent.

​Isn’t Intermittent Fasting Another Fad Diet?

​No, intermittent fasting is not a fad diet.  Intermittent fasting became popular in 2013 when Hollywood celebrities like Hugh Jackman began to use the 16:8 protocol to get ripped for movie roles. However, intermittent fasting didn’t originate in Hollywood. Scientists have been studying the various forms of fasting in animals and humans before it became mainstream.

Up until 2017, I used to believe intermittent fasting is all about skipping breakfast, and I was always looking for studies that support my view. Yes, we all suffer from confirmation bias.

My view drastically changed when I began to learn more about circadian biology and how it affects everything. Now I know how metabolically beneficial compressing one’s food intake to certain hours within the human biological day can be.

​What Is Intermittent Fasting?

​Intermittent fasting is a method of eating that cycles between periods of fasting and feeding known as fasting window and feeding window, respectively.

When many people think about intermittent fasting, they think about skipping breakfast.

Intermittent fasting is not about skipping meals; it is about compressing your eating to a particular time window during the day (the human biological day when the sun is out).

There are advanced protocols of intermittent fasting that require skipping one or two meals or skipping a whole day meal (OMAD, alternate-day fasting, and the 5:2 diet ).  However, in its simplest form, intermittent fasting is about eating all your meals within a specific time window each day. Scientists call it time-restricted feeding (TRF).

All intermittent fasting protocols are a form of time-restricted feeding.

​Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is a method of eating that cycles between periods of fasting and feeding known as fasting window and feeding window, respectively. ​Intermittent fasting is not about skipping meals; it is about compressing your eating to a particular time window during the day

​Time-Restricted Feeding Explained

As explained earlier, time-restricted feeding (TRF) means that you eat all of your meals and within a particular window of time during the day (human biological day). There are two components of time-restricted feeding.

The two components of time-restricted feeding:

1. The circadian rhythm component

2. The intermittent fasting component

The Circadian Rythm Component

Humans are diurnal. We’re biologically wired to eat during the day and fast during night time. When we don’t eat in alignment with our circadian rhythms, it can lead to metabolic disruptions that can make us susceptible to weight gain and a host of other chronic health conditions. When it comes to aligning your eating with your circadian rhythm, regularity is crucial.

That means:

  1. You can’t eat within an 8-hour window today and eat within a 14-hour window tomorrow.
  2. Your first and last meals must be on regular schedules.
  3. You can’t eat breakfast at 8 am one day, and 11 am on another day, and you can’t have dinner at 6 pm one night and 9 pm on another night.

The Intermittent Fasting Component

​As I said before, Intermittent fasting is not about skipping meals. It is about compressing your eating to a particular time window.

Therefore, if you’re eating your daily meals between 9 am-6 pm or 10 am-7 pm — and you don’t take any calorie-containing food/beverage before your first meal and after your last meal — you’re already doing intermittent fasting. Congratulations!

​Types of Intermittent Fasting

The 16:8 Protocol: In this method, you’ll fast for 16 hours and eat all your meals for the day within an 8-hour window. Your fasting window includes your sleeping hours.

The 18:6 Protocol: In this method, you’ll fast for 18 hours and eat all your meals for the day within an 8-hour window. Your fasting window includes your sleeping hours.


The One Meal A Day Diet (OMAD) Protocol: The OMAD diet is an advanced intermittent fasting protocol. You fast for 23 hours and eat all of your daily calories in just one meal each day (23:1).

The 5:2 Protocol: In this form of intermittent fasting, you will eat normally for five days a week and drastically limit caloric intake to 25% two days a week. The calorie restriction days can be two consecutive days, or non-consecutive.

The Alternate-day Fasting Protocol: In this method, you fast one day by not eating at all or eating 500 calories or fewer and eat normally the next day. You’re alternating between one day of fast and one day of normal feeding.

​Fasting Facts

​The 16:8 and 18:6 methods are the easiest form of intermittent fasting.The alternate-day fast is the most scientifically researched intermittent fasting protocol.

​Why Timing Matters

When intermittent fasting first became mainstream around 2012, many people (including yours truly) think it’s about skipping breakfast. Even today, some people still think intermittent fasting means skipping breakfast.

Intermittent fasting isn’t about skipping breakfast. It is about compressing your eating to a particular time window during the day.

In the first and second edition of this article, I argued that breakfast is not the meal one eats in the morning. My position on that is still the same because, by definition, breakfast means breaking the fast. It means your first meal of the day, not the meal you eat in the morning.

Every morning you wake up in a fasted state. How many hours you’ve fasted depend on when you had your last meal the previous day, and how many hours of sleep you had. You break your fast with the first meal you eat after those long hours of fasting. Breakfast, therefore, is your first meal of the day.

The question then is, is it okay to extend the fast till afternoon? In other words, is it okay to skip breakfast? Please grab a cup of green tea and let’s turn to health scientists for the answer.

To Skip Breakfast or Not

Whether you’re doing intermittent fasting or not, when you eat has a tremendous impact on your cardiometabolic health than you can ever imagine. Studies have shown that eating late at night is detrimental to the body. Late-night eating is defined as consuming any calorie-containing food or drink after 8 pm.

Therefore, if skipping one or two meals is the goal, it’s best to skip dinner instead of breakfast.

​A Quick Reminder

​Intermittent fasting isn’t about skipping breakfast; it is about compressing your eating to a particular time window. That means you can still eat three meals a day as long as you’re eating within your feeding window. However, you can do an advanced protocol of intermittent fasting, where you skip one or two meals a day. Or where you don’t eat at all during a 24 hr period.

Late-night Eating Is Not Good For Your Waistlines

​In this study, researchers found a strong association between nighttime eating and increased body fat.

​According to the study, “these results provide evidence that the consumption of food during the circadian evening and/or night, independent of more traditional risk factors such as amount or content of food intake and activity level, plays an important role in body composition.” (Emphasis mine)

A 2013 study of 420 people who followed a 30-week weight loss programme found that the timing of food intake predicts weight loss effectiveness.

“Eating late may influence the success of weight-loss therapy. Novel therapeutic strategies should incorporate not only the caloric intake and macronutrient distribution—as is classically done—but also the timing of food.” (Emphasis mine)

​Late-night Eating Is Not Good For Your Health

​In a crossover study, early time-restricted feeding was shown to improve insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, and oxidative stress in prediabetic men.

The cardiometabolic improvements seen in this study were independent of weight loss.

A 2017 study published in the journal of current biology found meal timing to be a major regulator of the human circadian system.  According to study authours, “timed meals play a role in synchronising peripheral circadian rhythms in humans.”

Time-restricted feeding is a preventative and therapeutic intervention against diverse nutritional challenges. This study here and this one here support the findings in the other studies referenced above.

​Pro Tip

​​There is strong evidence to support the notion that late-night eating is detrimental to our health and waistlines. Whenever you’re doing an advanced intermittent fasting protocol​, skip dinner, not breakfast.

​Can Intermittent Fasting Help Me Lose Weight?

​You may be saying, “Esta, this your long story no concern me o. My question is, will I lose weight with this time-restricted  feeding/intermittent fasting thing?”

The answer is both Yes and No.

You will lose weight with intermittent fasting as long as you’re not eating three days worth of meal within your daily 6-8hours feeding window.

Some people use intermittent fasting as a crutch for bad eating. If weight loss is the goal, what you eat, and how much you eat during your feeding window matter.

A 2018 study conducted at the University of Illinois looked at the effects of TRF on weight loss.

Twenty-three obese and sedentary subjects participated in an 8-h time-restricted feeding intervention. The participants were allowed to eat whatever they wanted between 10 am to 6 pm and fasted between 6 pm to 10 am (water only fasting). The study lasted for 12 weeks.

At the end of the 12 weeks study, the average weight loss was approximately 3% of the starting weight. That means a participant who started at 100kg lost around 3kg at the end of the 12 weeks study.

You might be scratching your head at the 3kg loss in 12kg. Like, “what, 3kg in 12 weeks?. That’s way too small.”

I feel you, but let me explain the reason the average weight loss was 3%.

The objective of the study was to see whether people can lose weight by just compressing their food intake to a particular window during the day. That’s why the feeding was ad libitum; study participants ate as they desired. They didn’t count calories, didn’t change anything in their diet, and they didn’t change their activity level. The only thing they did was to compress their feeding window.

On average, the participants ate 300 fewer calories per day throughout the 12 weeks study. So without effort, the average participant lost 3% of their body weight in 12 weeks just by eating within an eight-hour window.

Key lesson from the study

​ Intermittent fasting, or any nutrition protocol for that matter, is not a magic bullet for weight loss. Therefore, if your goal is to lose more than 3% of your body weight in three months, ​you might want to do a combination of the three things listed below.

  1. 1
    ​Eat quality foods in the right quantity (no overeating, no sugar, no junks, no highly processed foods.
  2. 2
    ​Eat within  6-8 hours window (16:8 or 18:6 protocols)
  3. 3
    Exercise regularly

​If can you combine these three things, you can expect to lose a significant amount in twelve weeks.

What Breaks A Fast?

​One of the questions I get asked a lot is this, “what breaks a fast?” People ask this question because they want to know what they can drink or eat during the fasting window.

Well, the answer depends on why you’re fasting. I fast every day using the 18:6 protocol and the only thing I take during my fasting window is plain water.

The reason is that my goal is to align my eating with my circadian rhythms. For this purpose, I avoid anything that can kickstart the metabolic process in the liver.

If your goal is to align your eating with your circadian rhythms, you should stay away from everything except plain water or plain green tea. Not even coffee because it kickstarts the metabolic process in the liver.

When the liver starts working, the other organs of the digestives system get the signal that it’s day time. Just as the brain sees the light and wakes up, the liver sees food or any calorie-containing drink and wakes up.

​Pro Tip

If your goal is to eat in alignment with your circadian rhythms, please note that regularity is vital.  Therefore, your eating pattern can’t be erratic.  What that means is that your first and last meals/calorie-containing drinks must be on regular schedules.

​If you eat breakfast at 9 am today, you can’t eat at 11 am or 1 pm tomorrow. Also,  if you eat your last meal at 7 pm today, you can’t eat tomorrow’s own at 9 pm. The first rule here is regularity.

Can I Still Eat 3 Meals A Day?

​Yes, you can still eat three meals a day while doing intermittent fasting. Remember, intermittent fasting isn’t primarily about skipping meals; it’s about compressing your eating to a particular time window during the day.

You don’t need to skip any meals, especially if your goal is to make this way of eating a lifestyle.

​What About the OMAD?

​The one meal a day diet (OMAD) is an advanced intermittent fasting protocol. You fast for 23 hours and eat one meal a day within one hour window.

Is The OMAD Diet Safe?

​In the short-term, the answer is yes. No one is going to die for not eating for 23 hours. Also, fasting has been shown to have numerous health benefits.  So, ignore the people who are saying you need to eat 5-6 meals a day to raise your metabolism. Eating round the clock is detrimental to your metabolism!

That being said, be aware that following a fasting protocol that limits your feeding to a very short window isn’t something you should do for more than 8-12 weeks. The studies I have seen suggest that the One Meal A Day protocol may increase some cardiovascular disease risk factors. For this sole reason, you should not do the diet for more than 8-12 weeks at a stretch.


There you have it! I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Now I want to hear from you! Tell me in the comments what you learned from this article. Also, if you have any questions, drop them in the comments, and I’ll answer them.

My Top 10 Fitness Tips For 2017

The new year we’ve been waiting for is finally here! If you’re a fitfam like, I believe you have some fitness goals.  But before we set the ball rolling, here are my top 10 fitness tips.

Tip #1: Don’t pitch your tent with the resolution crowd

The resolution crowd is easy to identify. They announce their resolutions to friends and family. In excitement, they join all the weight loss groups on Facebook and BB. They start a new diet and start going to the gym. They are pumped and excited about losing weight in January! Then February comes along, and life gradually slips back to normal.

You can’t afford to pitch your tent with this crowd in 2017. Resolutions are nothing unless you back them with actions all year round. Make a habit, not a resolution.

Tip #2: Be realistic with your expectations, it will save you from false hope syndrome

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5 Tips to Help You Stay In Shape During The Holidays

5 Tips To Help You Stay In Shape During The Holidays

Christmas season is a period of giving and receiving. The time when gifts of all sizes and types – from cakes to chicken to chocolate and champagne – just keep coming in. That means the average household is going to have more to eat and drink than usual during the festive season. And if you’re a very social person, you may have too many foods and drinks flowing around in your house.

With so much to eat and drink, it wouldn’t be a surprise if some people come back from the holiday a size bigger. But you don’t have to be in that number; you can enjoy the festive foods and drinks without adding inches to your waistline.

5 tips to help you stay in shape during the holidays

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2 common reasons people struggle

2 Common Reasons People Struggle With Their Weight

Have you ever wondered why eating healthy can be difficult sometimes? You are not alone.

When it comes to nutrition and diet, some of us have real struggles. We want to eat clean and healthy, but we keep falling on our faces again and again.

Why do people struggle with their diet? In my opinion, there are two common reasons people struggle with their diet.

Reason #1: Going on a punishment diet

A punishment diet is any diet plan that restricts calorie intake in a drastic way (Esta’s definition). Remember those diet plans that only allow you to eat one cucumber and one boiled egg for breakfast, one piece of roasted chicken for lunch and 1 cup of grape juice, or a plate of cabbage soup dinner?

That is what a punishment diet looks like!

Solution

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5 Lift weights

Why You Should Lift Weights, Especially If You Are A Woman

This post is the third post in my FITNESS 101 series.

First Post: You Don’t Need Exercise To Lose Weight

Second Post: Cardio Is More Than Running

In this post, you’ll learn about why you must lift weights, especially if you are a woman.

You need to lift weights as a woman! No, I’m not talking about those pink, 1kg dumbbells that have become some women’s favourite. I’m talking about weights.

 To Lift Weights Or Not

One reason is that many cardio exercises don’t require special instructions or equipment. For instance, you don’t need anyone to teach you how to walk or run; these are movement patterns that come naturally to every healthy human (You may need someone to coach you on the proper running form if you plan to make distance running a hobby. Having a running coach will help you become a better recreation runner and help you prevent running-related injuries), and don’t need an instructor to teach you how to groove to the beats of your favourite songs; you just want to move with the rhythms. But when it comes to strength training, you have to know what you are doing and do it the right way for it to be safe and effective.

Why You Must Lift Weights, Especially If You Are A Woman

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cardio

Cardio Is More Than Running

If you have been on the fitness train for an extended period, you must have come across the term “Cardio”. And depending on which camp you belong, you may either love or hate it or have a love-hate relationship with it.

Anytime I hear people talk about how they don’t like cardio or how they see it as a necessary evil; I always wonder if they understand the meaning of the word.

Cardio is more than running

For many people, Cardio means, running! But that is incorrect. Yes, running is a type of cardio exercise, but Cardio is much more than running. A cardio exercise is any exercise that requires the movement of the large muscle groups.

To explain in a simple term, a cardio exercise is any exercise that requires that you move your legs, arms and torso at the same time.

This type of exercise places a higher demand on the organs that are responsible for respiration and nutrients transportation. For example, when you stand up to move to the beat of Shoki at that party, you are doing a form cardio. (Apologies if you are not a Nigerian. Shoki is a type of dance step in Nigeria).

Cardio-respiratory fitness

Like I did explain in the first article in this series, cardio-respiratory fitness is the ability of the heart, blood vessels and respiratory system to supply nutrients and oxygen to the muscles and the ability of the muscles to utilise fuel to allow sustained exercise. Whether a person is walking or dancing, the heart, blood vessels and the organs of the respiratory systems are working in concert to deliver nutrients and oxygen to the working muscles.

How fast and far a person can go, depend on the efficiency of the cardio-respiratory system. A fit person can exercise for a relatively extended period without unnecessary tiredness.

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causes of weight gain

3 Hidden Causes Of Weight Gain

Are you currently experiencing this?

You’re giving your best effort every day because you believe it is the only way to get what you want. You’ve been consistent with your exercise, and you have cleaned up your diet, but despite your consistent effort the scale seems to be showing you are gaining weight. And you know the scale is not playing a prank on you because you can feel and see it in your clothes.

How can you be adding weight when you’re doing everything right?

That is the question I want to answer in this article. You’ll discover the three hidden causes of weight gain many people are not even aware of.

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Weight loss plateau

How To Bust Through A Weight Loss Plateau

Are you experiencing a weight loss plateau? Read this article to learn how you can start losing weight again.

So you have lost a significant amount of weight then all of a sudden you stopped losing weight. You’ve evaluated your nutrition and exercise habits to see if there was something you were not doing right, but everything looked okay.

Welcome to a weight loss plateau, the most dreaded place for Fit Friends.

But you don’t need to panic because there is a way out. Stay with me, and I’ll show how to bust through the plateau.

First, let’s talk about the potential causes, and after that, we’ll talk about the solutions.

The three potential causes of a weight loss plateau

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