Skinny girls 'may' look good in clothes. Fit girls always look - great!
Motivational quotes for both men and women are important parts to get one going and be disciplined in achieving desired goals. One of my favorite quotes for motivating female colleagues is "Skinny girls 'may' look good in clothes. Fit girls always look - great!".
But what that means in real life?
In real life we are witnessing various eating disorders - people are eating much above their maintenance levels or they are not eating enough, they are eating unbalanced meals, they are eating rarely or too often, pedestrians are people getting in or out of the car, stairs are used when there are no elevators, heaviest thing to hold is glass of drink etc.
This article is intended mainly for female population, but guys can learn thing or two, too, about getting and staying fit and looking great!
Nutrition, Workouts, Rest - the Magic Three
Nutrition is one of the most important issues if you want to become and stay fit - regardless if you are trying to lose or gain some weight or you are only interested in maintaining your current proportions. Workouts are stress to the body - if we don't use our muscles, body will get rid of them. Remember, our bodies are made for survival during the eons of evolution - if you eat only 1-2 meals per day, body will store as much energy as possible for periods of no food and most of the energy is stored as - fat. Not so good. When we workout, we are stressing the muscles and sending the signal to the body that we need those muscles - body don't know if we are running away from the lion pack or on treadmill, if we are climbing on the tree looking for fruits or we are doing chin-ups and pull-ups in the gym ... And when we stress the body, we must give it opportunity to recover - proper nutrition with enough rests will do wonders. Sleeping at least 8-9 hours per day will provide body with enough time to repair itself and prepare it for challenges of a day ahead.
As one can see, there is no single magic factor that can lead us to the body we desire - there are, at least, three of them.
As said before, proper nutrition is the most important factor for becoming and staying fit. Also, it is easiest one to make mistakes and mess up everything - and with messed up nutrition no workouts can help you in building great looking toned body.
Meal frequency - proper nutrition means eating 6-8 small meals throughout the day. Exact number depends on the individual involved - body type, gender, age, non exercise physical activity, job type etc.
By eating many small meals we are accelerating metabolism (we burn more calories) and we are also telling our body that there is no need for storing energy (as fat) because there is plenty of foods around. Eating more often will not, by itself, get you rid of fat or cellulite, but it is very important piece of the puzzle.
Meal composition - one should know that there are macronutrients and micronutrients - proteins, carbohydrates, fats, water, fibers, vitamins, minerals etc. Protein should be consumed in every meal and combined with other macronutrients - in the morning more carbs should be consumed and less fats and as day progress, more fats should be combined with protein and less carbohydrates. Carbohydrates mainly provide energy, while proteins and fats can provide energy, but they also play important role by providing building blocks for body regeneration, they participate in numerous metabolic processes etc. Fibers are important for proper digestion - consume some 20-30g per day and you will be fine. More is usually better, but if you are going to increase daily fiber intake, do it gradually. Water should be consumed throughout the day, amounts depend on many things, but 2-3 liters is good measure to start with.
Cellulite?! Yeah right :o)
'Apple at 17:00h (5pm) and have no dinner' and similar advices - having no dinner is big mistake. Sure, you are going to decrease daily calorie intake (even that is big 'maybe') and you will lose some weight. Your body will starve for at least 12-14 hours and in order to survive, body will 'learn' to store precious energy when it gets it - as fat and cellulite while sacrificing 'energy expensive' muscles. Same thing is with water - if you don't drink water regularly and in enough quantities, body will try to store it. These are two very important prerequisites for 'orange skin' - cellulite deposits on thighs and hips.
Always have dinner in the form of slow digesting lean protein source, some salad with vinegar and with the source of healthy fats. Sounds complicated? Dinner in the form of 2-3 tablespoons of low fat or cottage cheese, single hard-boiled omega-3 egg, 200g of lettuce and few almonds is not complicated meal to make and have everything one needs for good, quick and most important, healthy dinner.
Calorie requirements - daily calories differ from person to person. You can easily Calculate Basal and Resting Metabolic Rate using various formulas.
For example, we have two persons:
- woman, 30 years, 170 cm, 70 kg, 15% bf
- man, 30 years, 185 cm, 100 kg, 10% bf
Their results are given in following table:
|Person||The Harris-Benedict Equation (BMR)||The Cunningham Formula (RMR)||The Katch-McArdle Formula (BMR)||Multiply by 22 (10) Method|
|Woman||1475 kcal||1809 kcal||1655 kcal||1540 kcal|
|Man||2157 kcal||2480 kcal||2314 kcal||2200 kcal|
BMR for woman in example would be around 1550 kcal and for a man BMR would be around 2200 kcal. If we multiply with Physical Activity Level Factor of 1.6 (Moderate Activity), we obtain necessary calories for both persons needed to keep current weight at present physical activity: woman - 2480 kcal, man - 3520 kcal.
Of course, these numbers are just approximation of real life, since needed calories also depends on body type (ectomorphs, mesomorphs, endomorphs - 100 kg ectomorph with moderate activity (don't underestimate 'moderate activity' - it takes plenty of physical activity to 'deserve' moderate activity level) will probably lose weight on 3500 kcal, mesomorph would be around his maintenance level, while 100kg endomorph would probably gain weight on 3500 kcal per day, even with 'moderate activity') and many other factors that relatively simple mathematical equation don't take into account. But these numbers are good starting points, so calculate your BMR and daily calories and adjust your calorie intake to achieve desired goals.
Supplements are great, but real food is real food. Supplements can help in many ways, but it is important to know what to take, when and why.
- meal replacement powders (MRPs) provide good and quick alternative to real food meals. Just put the powder into the (dry!) shaker and take it with you. When you need meal, just add the water (or milk), shake it and drink it - and that is all, you are good to go. Cheaper MRPs are mostly based on whey protein (fast digesting form of protein) with some casein protein, milk protein and/or egg albumen protein added. They are digested faster than MRPs based on casein protein powder or pure casein powder. MRPs also have carbohydrates, fats, fibers, some vitamins and minerals - to alter the taste, you can add cocoa (enhances chocolate flavor, gives some energy boost), milled flax seeds (healthy fats and fibers), oats (complex carbs, minerals, some fiber) etc.
Good thing for vegans is that there are on the market many types of plant based protein powders. They are more expensive than milk, egg, beef etc based protein powders, but vegan protein powders are very low on many allergens and thus recommended not only to vegans, but also to people having various health problems but still want to increase daily protein intake.
Lacto-ovo vegetarians can and should consider taking whey protein, milk protein isolate and casein protein powders since they are derived from milk and they have excellent protein biological values and PDCAAS.
- whey protein is fast digesting form of protein derived from milk. It should be used around workouts, especially after the workouts in the form of Post Workout Meal (PWM) shake. It can be used for breakfast with water (or milk) and oats, but instead whey you should consider using some MRP even for breakfasts. Also, whey protein can be used to increase protein content of some meals (oats pancakes, various smoothie recipes with cottage or low fat cheese, etc). Whey is cheap, but if you don't know which one to buy, always go for established brands. If you don't like many tubs and containers (whey powder, MRP powder ...), get your self a good MRP and have it even after workout - it will not digest so quickly like whey, but MRPs will also, as whey protein, increase nitrogen levels in the blood and still push the body from catabolic state to anabolic state and promote muscle and tissue regeneration. Also, after drinking MRP instead of whey, there are no insulin spikes as strong as when whey with fast carbs is consumed - there are also no danger of 'insulin crush' after drinking MRPs. Long story short - after workouts have whey, but some good MRP based on whey, milk protein and casein will do job, too.
- multivitamin and multmineral tablets are recommended for anybody wanting to increase vitamin and mineral daily intake - good vitamin and mineral intake promotes stronger immune system, health and general well being. Also, vitamins and minerals are very important for healthy skin, nails, hair, joints etc, so don't neglect them. On the other hand, all excess vitamins soluble in water are easily removed from the body, while fat soluble vitamins are not, so too much of vitamins and minerals is not good - be careful. If you can, try to consume enough vitamins and minerals by eating good and fresh foods and forget pills ...
- omega-3 and other healthy fats are available in the forms of gel capsules. Usually, one to three are more than enough to provide body with enough needed healthy fatty acids. Omega-3 pills can prolong blood clotting - before taking any supplements and going for a diet, check your health at your doctor and tell him/her about your intentions - omega-3 pills included. Good thing is that if you take care about your nutrition, you don't have to take omega-3 pills. Just be sure to eat regularly fish, nuts (be careful about amounts - calories can go sky high), omega-3 eggs etc.
- dieting pills are great thing for losing fat and getting in shape. Take large bottle of pills, spill the pills out of the bottle (on the floor) and put the bottle on the elevated surface - now, pick pills one by one by alternating your hands every time you pick a single pill and put pills, one by one in the bottle. So if you have 100 pill bottle, you will have to bend over and lower your self 100 times - repeat this several time per day and these pills will definitely help you to lose fats and build strength and stamina :o)
Seriously, dieting pills can help you in getting rid of body fats, can help you feel more energetic when on low calorie diet etc, but they work if and only if you take them as part of good balanced diet, if you workout regularly and if you rest enough. If you nutrition is messed up, sorry but no pill can help in that case.
Guarana pills are not strictly dieting pills - they contain caffeine which can give energy boost when person is on low calorie diet. These pills are much cheaper than 'normal' dieting pills, but they do what they are supposed to do. They also elevate blood pressure, like most of the dieting pills and can cause tremors and dizziness, so be careful about them (again, check with your doctor or physician should you take any of these...).
- joint support supplements can greatly help with problematic joints. Also, if you often engage in sports that involve high stress impacts (running on hard surface, punching, kicking etc), it is recommended to take from time to time some joint support supplement. Omega-3, zinc and food rich in sulfur also promote joint health and combining those foods and joint support supplements can do wonders to painful joints. On the other hand, if you already have damaged and heavily worn out joints, unfortunately, surgery is often the only option - even in this case proper nutrition and proper supplementation can help in recovery. But, better safe than sorry ...
- creatine monohydrate and other forms of creatine, BCAA, glutamine, l-carnitine, nitric oxides and other supplements are not for women/girls wanting to become and stay fit, no matter what supplement industry try to say. But, if you get little bit more serious about fitness and athletic performance, educate your self before buying any of these and first start with creatine and BCAA.
1500 Calorie Diet
This is 1500 calorie diet for women (or men). This is real life example and you should adjust it for your own needs - some women (or men) will lose tremendous amounts of weight on this diet (both fats and muscles), some of them will steadily lose body fat, for some this is maintenance only diet. Smaller sized women or those with slower metabolisms and sitting jobs can even gain weight (they should workout and build muscles not just weight!) on this diet. Point is - use this example as guideline and adjust it to your own needs.
Notes on 1500 calorie diet:
- good sources of lean protein: fish, low fat or cottage cheese, chicken and turkey breast, lean cuts of red meat, omega-3 eggs, egg whites
- good sources of complex carbs, vitamins and minerals: green and leafy vegetables, salads, non-starchy fruits, oats.
- good sources of semi-complex carbs: potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas, pears, whole grain pasta, brown rice.
- avoid sources of simple carbs: white pasta, white rice, sugar of any kind, sodas, sweets.
- good sources of fat: fatty fish, nuts, fish oils, extra virgin oil, milled flax seeds, flax seeds oil.
- avoid fast foods, alcohol, cakes, sweets, caloric salad dressings (read labels) ...
- plan ahead your meals and shopping and cook several meals at the same time.
1500 Calorie Diet Plan
In order to accelerate metabolism and promote fat loss and gaining muscles, this diet menu has 3 main meals and several snacks. Since most of the people have very little time to cook, some MRPs are going to be used.
06:00 If you need to lose weight, wake up early and walk for about 45 minutes on empty stomach. This will burn your fat reserves without stressing muscles and joints. If you can't get at least 7-8 hours of sleep, rather sleep and have more energy for daily activities. Also, if you have fairly low body fat percentage, occasional morning walks on empty stomach are good way of keeping that body fat percentage low.
07:00 Breakfast - Mixed Berries and Cottage Cheese Smoothie
|Calories:||76 kcal||68 kcal||41 kcal||-|
That is around 185 kcal, mostly from protein and carbohydrates, some from a fats. Fiber content at 6g per meal is very good.
Some people would say that cottage cheese is 'too slow' protein source for breakfast and that in the morning body needs 'faster' protein source, especially after walking on empty stomach. Well, this smoothie is example - one day you can and should have this smoothie for breakfast (after all, it is loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants etc and it is made very quickly), second day you can have MRP + oats, third day you can have omega-3 egg + cottage cheese + slice of whole grain bread etc. Vary your meals to avoid boredom and try to choose recipes that will give you meals that you actually enjoy.
10:00 Quick Snack - Small banana - 100g: around 1g of protein, 21g of carbs, almost no fats, 2g of fiber - around 90 kcal.
Banana is good example of fruits that can be carried around and eaten as one pleases. It is digested rather quickly and provide the body with energy - it is still early in the day and some carbs are welcomed. Vary your fruits for this snack - one day you can have banana, second day an apple, third day an orange etc. Always try to have fresh fruits for this meal as it provides both energy and valuable micronutrients...
11:00 Snack - Milled Flax Seeds with MRP
|Milled Flax Seeds||25g||6g||0g||8g||9g|
|MRP (Labrada ProV 60)||40g||30g||6g||2g||0g|
|Calories:||144 kcal||24 kcal||90 kcal||-|
This meal has around 260 kcal. Mostly from protein, some from fats and very little carbs. It is good idea to put some guarana into the shaker or have guarana pill with this meal. Real food is real food, but if you work and have no time or very little time to cook, MRPs are way to go.
In this example, Labrada ProV 60 was used - it is not the cheapest one around, but it's taste is excellent. Bigger packages of any supplement are cheaper gram for gram, but to avoid disappointments, before buying bigger packages (of any supplement), ask for sample packs. Which MRP will you use, it is up to you, of course.
Milled flax seeds have almost no digestible carbs and have very good fatty acid profile - some of it's fats is even converted in omega-3 in human body, but not much - around 1 - 10% of flax seeds fats (or flax seed oil) is converted in omega-3 (more in women, less in men).
14:00 Lunch - Marinated Chicken Breast with Broccoli
|Calories:||160 kcal||52 kcal||72 kcal||-|
Finally something to chew - seriously, chewing is important part of good diet, both physiologically and psychologically. This meal has around 285 kcal, most from protein and some from fats and carbs. It is best to make this meal before work and bring it in sealed plastic container - before you go for morning walk, put meat and broccoli in steam cooker (with timer) and when you get back, good tasting meal is ready. If you want, you can replace 11:00 meal with this combination, but eating two same meals in sequence can be boring - but if you don't like supplements and powders, this is the way to go, just watch your macronutrients.
17:15 Pre Workout Shake - whey protein and guarana
|Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey||30g||23g||3g||1g||0g|
|Calories:||92 kcal||12 kcal||9kcal||-|
Whey protein in combination with guarana before workout (around 115 kcal in this example) will provide you with plenty of energy (caffeine!) and will keep your body in anabolic state for some time (much longer than without this shake) and will help you have better and more energetic workouts. Even better, don't make this shake with whey, but with some MRP. Some people don't like feeling of fulness before and during the workouts (can even feel sick) - if you are one of them, don't take this shake before workouts, eat more lean protein in 14:00h meal and before workout have just a guarana pill for energy boost.
17:30 Workout - gym (weights, cardio, circuit workout etc), pilates, aerobics, Martial Arts, outdoor running, cycling, basketball, handball, swimming etc, just do some workout that will stress your muscles and burn some energy ...
19:00 Post Workout Meal (PWM) Shake - whey protein and fast carbs
|Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey||30g||23g||3g||1g||0g|
|Calories:||92 kcal||112 kcal||9kcal||-|
Whey protein and fast carbs should be consumed right after workout - it will help in replenishing glycogen reserves, promote muscle and tissue regeneration etc. Also, it will spike your insulin, so be sure to eat something around one hour after having PWM.
In this example we are using Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey - it is one of the best buy whey protein supplements in last few years and if you don't know which one to buy, you can try this one - again, first look for sample packs or small packages.
20:00 Dinner - Grilled Salmon with Zucchini
|Calories:||120 kcal||28 kcal||63 kcal||-|
This meal has around 210 kcal. Salmon is one of the best choices for daily meals and first meals after workouts - it is loaded with protein and has good amount of omega-3 and other healthy fats. On the other hand, it is digested relatively quickly, so it is not 'ideal' for last meal of the day.
22:00 Bed Time Snack - Cottage Cheese and Almonds
|Calories:||88 kcal||24 kcal||126 kcal||-|
Around 240 kcal - cottage cheese digest very slowly and it will keep nitrogen levels more or less constant for longer period of time. Healthy fats from almonds will be used for various processes in the body during very important activity - sleeping.
This sample plan actually has 1590 kcal, not 1500 kcal:
|Calories:||780 kcal||400 kcal||414 kcal||-|
This 90 kcal difference is ok, because of the workout. On non training day, try to have less than 1500 kcal, for example, 1400 kcal, but don't go (much) lower than that. By varying amounts of carbs we are giving the body enough energy to be able to do daily jobs and to lose weight (preferably fats). Proteins comes from various sources, so we should not bother about amino acid balance and similar issues. Most of the fats come from recommended sources (salmon, almonds, milled flex seeds etc), there should be no problems regarding skin, nails, hair, joints, hormones etc.
Protein intake is relatively high - it will protect your muscles from being sacrificed by the body during periods of low calorie intake. Also, lean protein and most of the chosen foods are harder to digest in regard to calories they have - Fat Burning Foods!
Frequent meals, plenty of protein, water soluble vitamins etc require - plenty of water to be consumed during the day. You should drink enough water so that your pee is clear. This also means going to toilet more often, but what must be done, must be done ...
When you gain weight (preferably much more muscles than fats) or when you lose weight (preferably much more fats than muscles), your skin will have to stretch or to shrink. Too fast stretching of the skin can cause stretch marks to appear while too fast weight loss can cause flabby skin - both can be avoided or at least significantly minimized with moisturizing creams and proper nutrition in the form of plenty of healthy fats and fats soluble vitamins - but don't increase fats soluble vitamins intake too high.
Workout Routines and Body Composition
It is much harder for women to build muscles and lose fat than men. And how 'easy' is for men to build lean and muscular aesthetic bodies, well, just go to the beach or nearest pool and look for your self :o)
It is possible to reshape both women's and men's bodies with proper nutrition and workouts. Under microscope, there is no difference between female and male muscle fibers, but hormone levels determine (among other factors) amounts of muscles and fats that can be build in given time under various circumstances. Long story short - ladies, train whenever you can, but train smart.
Workouts should consist of weights sessions ('anaerobic exercises') with periodisation regarding weights lifted and sets and reps and cardio sessions with stretching. Cardio sessions don't have to be in the form of running on the treadmills - if you can, go outdoor and run, swim, cycle, play some team sport etc. Martial Arts burns plenty of calories, but also build strength, stamina, coordination, self esteem, flexibility etc.
It all depends on YOU and place where you live. Good thing about modern world is that communication is instant and limited only by time zones - if you need coach from another part of the world, today it is much easier to reach him/her than 20 or so years ago.
Reduction of fat from a single point of the body, by targeting that area during workouts, is not possible - it is a myth. So if you want to lose fats from your belly region, countless crunches will do nothing regarding losing fats from that area.
Also, gaining fats in desired area (skinny women would like fats to go to 'strategic' areas like breasts) is also impossible to achieve. Where from will you lose fats, or where will fats be deposited when gained, is determined by genetics and it is totally individual.
V Shaped Torso
Women should strive to achieve V shaped torso in order to emphasize curvature of their body (shoulders, waist, hips, thighs, calves line). Goal is to emphasize strength of both upper and lower body, but without enlarging waist muscles.
Also, many women are 'afraid' of gaining muscles, back muscles included. Back width in the form of well developed 'lats' (mainly Latissimus dorsi muscle, but there are many other muscles on the back involved) is far from being 'unfeminine'. When fully flexed muscles do look bigger (photo on the left), but when at least partly relaxed, they have much smaller appearance (photo on the right), but curves of the women's body can be outstanding.
So, ladies, train your lats and back muscles - they can burn tons of calories and can help you achieve great attractive posture.
How to Increase Breast Size With Exercise
Many women worries that lowering body fats will decrease size of their breasts. Also, skinny women hope that gaining few pounds of weight will go to 'right' places - again, story of spot reduction and deposits - it is determined with your genetics.
Since breasts are mostly fat tissue supported by Pectoralis major muscle (and P. minor, but P. minor is of much less significance here), than logical solution is to enlarge P. major through exercise. This is not easy task to do, but it is possible up to a certain point. Best chest exercises are:
- flat, incline and decline bench dumbbell and barbell presses and flies
- 'peck deck' and butterfly exercise machines
- cable cross variations
- push ups
To increase size of the muscles (not only P. major and P. minor), combine high intensity and low reps with lower intensity and higher reps workouts to promote both muscle hypertrophy and muscle hyperplasia.
Toned Arms, Toned Legs
Lowering body fat with proper nutrition is more important than enlarging individual muscle groups - women with body fat of around 15% look toned and fit - muscles are visible but not much - just the way they should :o)
Lowering body fat is important, but it is also important to have muscles on those arms and legs, otherwise, skin will hang from bones, like clothes from a hanger and that should be avoided - muscles also help in providing desired curves, so ladies, again, don't be afraid of some muscles ...
Exercises for toned arms:
- compound exercises for chests (like bench press) are often good exercise for triceps and compound exercises for back (like pull ups and chin ups) are good exercises for biceps
- isolation exercises for arms and legs should be done occasionally, how often, depends on individual
Exercises for toned legs and gluteus:
- ATG squats
- front squats
- dumbbell squats
- dead lifts and variations
- good mornings
Women generally avoid doing these exercises (actually, many guys also avoid them), but legs and gluteus muscles are needed in order to keep women's curvature - gluteus muscles can defy gravity, fat wobbly as* can't!!!
When you join the gym, for few first weeks/months try to learn exercises and movements. After that, ask your trainer for personalized workout program - your strength and weaknesses should be already clearly visible.
If you have, for example, weak calves, don't leave them for the end of workout - hit them in few first exercises and only than proceed to your stronger muscle groups/exercises.
How to Get a Flat Stomach
If you have read entire article up to know (and if you haven't, go a read it! :o), than you probably already know that key factor for flat stomach and sexy toned abs is - nutrition. No abs exercise can help you make them visible, if there is tons of fat on them.
To get flat six pack abs focus on your nutrition to lover your body fat percentage. Also, in the gym work your abs in order to strengthen them - strong abs and strong back will significantly alter and improve your posture.
Skinny girls/women with or without visible abs should slowly increase their calorie intake in order to promote muscle gains (not only abs, but entire body trying to eliminate weak points) and control fat gains. Don't go for mass/diet cycles like many men do, but work steadily on improving your body - self-confidence will increase soon and help you even more in achieving your goals.
This is my favorite part - resting :o)
Organize your time so that you have at least 7-8 hours of good night sleep. This also means that you should have your last meal at least one hour before going in bed - some people can't fall asleep right after eating. Also, don't take any dieting, energy or guarana pills or energy drinks few hours before sleeping. For becoming and staying fit, alcohol should be avoided, but small glass of good wine for dinner can have relaxing effect and can help in getting good sleep. This should be an exception, not the rule!
If you don't have desk job and you burn plenty of calories in Non Exercise Physical Activities (NEPA), try to rest physically during the day - half an hour break will be enough to recharge your batteries and go on with your daily activities. On the other hand, people having desk jobs can greatly benefit psychically if they try at least to walk half an hour during the day - resting is not just laying down and sleeping or watching TV, but it is also resting from everyday activities and simply - having a break!
Zsuzsanna Toldi is Hungarian fitness model. She lives in city of Debrecen and works as fitness model and trainer.
She speaks English, French and Italian.
More on Zsuzsanna Toldi and her accomplishments can be found on her Facebook Page.
All photos of Zsuzsanna Toldi were used with her explicit permission and can not be reused without her approval.