Preventative Measures for Osteoporosis
Health & Nutrition

3 Preventative Measures for Osteoporosis

posted by FitnessFirst Team October 31, 2016 0 comments

Bone health is important to overall health and quality of life. It provides a frame that permits mobility and protects the internal organs from injury, while being a storage for minerals vital to the self-sustaining functions of daily life. However, Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease that is characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of the structure of bone tissue (trabecular tissue) which leads to risk of fracture and increased bone fragility. It is most common to women (postmenopausal osteoporosis) that can often be prevented. However, if undetected, it can progress for many years without symptoms until a fracture occurs.

Here are ways that we can prevent it:

Diet and Supplements

Calcium intake is the mainstay of Osteoporosis prevention and treatment. Vitamin D supplementation and Sun exposure may contribute as well. Daily intake of Vitamin D facilitates absorption and mineralization of the bone. It is also found in liver, fatty fish, egg yolks, milk and orange juice.

The recommended amounts of calcium and vitamin D for adults are as follows:

1. For pre-menopausal women 25-50 years old and post-menopausal women on estrogen replacement therapy, 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day with 400 i.u. of Vitamin D. 1,500 milligrams of calcium per day is recommended for pregnant or lactating women.

2. For postmenopausal women less than age 65 not on estrogen replacement therapy, 1,500 milligrams of calcium per day is recommended along with 400-800 i.u. of Vitamin D.

3. For men ages 25-65, 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day is recommended.

4. For all people (women and men) over age 65, 1,500 milligrams of calcium per day.

Preventative Measures for Osteoporosis

Healthy Lifestyle

Live a healthy lifestyle with moderate Alcohol Consumption and no smoking. Cigarette smoke generates large amounts of free radicals – molecules that attack and overwhelm the body’s natural defenses. The result is a chain-reaction of damage throughout the body — including cells (osteoblast), organs (i.e liver), and hormones (calcitonin) involved in keeping bones healthy. Moderate alcohol intake (usually defined as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men) is beneficial. However, taken excessively disrupts with the balance of calcium absorption, an essential nutrient for healthy bones. It also increases parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels, which in turn reduce the body’s calcium reserves.

Preventative Measures for Osteoporosis


Studies of postmenopausal women report that aerobic, weight-bearing, and strength training exercise can increase bone mineral density in the spine and hip. When you exercise, you don’t just build muscle and endurance, you also build and maintain the amount and thickness of your bones (bone mass and density), increase joint flexibility, and balance, and prevents falls. Examples of weight bearing exercises are walking in the park or using treadmill, jogging, playing tennis, football, Tai Chi, climbing stairs and weight lifting. However, bicycling and swimming can be a great exercise but they are not weight bearing therefore not as effective in bone health benefits. Duration of 30 to 45 minutes a day and 3 or 4 times a week would be beneficial.

Preventative Measures for Osteoporosis

Prevention is better than cure. Why would we wait for our bones to weaken?

Let’s start treating our bones the right exercise and diet that they deserve!

Charles Esperas
Senior Fitness Manager
Fitness First Platinum – Dubai Media City

6 Tips to Cut Your Sugar Cravings
Health & Nutrition

6 Tips to Cut Your Sugar Cravings

posted by FitnessFirst Team April 25, 2016 0 comments

Kicking a sugar habit can be difficult, that’s because the sweet stuff can be addictive. Cravings for sugar have been linked to irritability, depressed mood and feeling a lack of energy, which can in turn lead to more sugar cravings!  Regardless it is possible to eradicate your sweet desires by simply changing your diet and even a bit of your lifestyle too. Use these six tips to cut your sugar cravings for good.

Tip #1 – Include More Fiber Rich Foods in Your Diet

If you’re diet is lacking in fiber, you’re more than likely suffering with sugar cravings, lack of energy and increased hunger.  Fiber rich foods are digested slowly by the body, which results in a sustained release of energy to the body without spiking blood glucose levels.  If your diet is loaded with simple carbs like bread and white rice this causes a spike in blood glucose levels, which is followed quickly by an energy crash leading to low energy levels and subsequently more sugar cravings.

What to Do About It:  Choose foods that are high in fiber, are low in sugar and have a low glycemic load, which allows for slow digestion, sustained energy and reduced cravings.  The recommended dietary intake of fiber is 38 g/day for men and 25 g/d for women.  Include fiber rich foods such as apples and berries, vegetables such as squashes, broccoli and green beans, or even whole grains like oatmeal.

10 Steps to help you detox sugar from your body-fitness first

Tip #2 – Eat More Frequently

Eating frequently helps balance and stabilizes blood glucose levels, which means sugar cravings can be sidelined.  In fact, research suggests that those who eat more frequently – more than three times per day have less cravings and hunger than those who ate less frequently. In a meta-analysis of 15 studies, it was also shown that frequent eating was positively associated with reductions in fat mass, body fat percentage, as well as an increase in lean mass.  What’s more eating more frequently can also reduce blood glucose levels and insulin response.  Why is this important?  Frequent insulin spiking can lead to insulin resistance, when the body has problems processing sugar, which can further exacerbate sugar cravings!

What to Do About It:  Eat within 30 minutes of getting up, and then eat every 2.5 to 3 hours or approximately 5 to 6 mini meals per day of roughly the same amount of calories to maintain energy levels, reduce sugar crashes and keep hunger side-lined.

Tip #3 – Don’t Skip Breakfast

Considered the most important meal of the day for good reason, breakfast can help stimulate your metabolism, while also reducing cravings and hunger for the rest of the day.  In a recent, randomized study, participants were given a 350 Kcal breakfast containing low amount of protein (13 g), a high amount of protein (35 g) or no breakfast at all.  After 6-days it was shown that eating breakfast increased daily fullness and reduced late night snacking, especially when consuming the high protein breakfast.

What to Do About It:  Be sure to eat a high protein breakfast. Make yourself some eggs, have an omelet, or try a protein smoothie with non-fat Greek yoghurt and or whey protein.  For even more hunger reducing effects combine with a fiber rich carb like whole grain sprouted bread, oatmeal or even quinoa.


Tip #4 – Increase Your Protein Intake

Protein has a satiating effect in the body – which means eating more of it can help keep hunger and cravings reduced.  Studies have shown that those who follow high protein diets experienced less hunger and ate less versus those who followed high carb diets of the same calories.  What’s even better about eating more protein is its thermogenic effect.  Protein takes more energy to digest than other foods of the same caloric value, which means the process of just eating protein helps you burn calories!  Eating protein also helps maintain lean mass, which also has a metabolic effect.

What to Do About It: Eat a portion of protein with every meal.  Protein should make up approximately 40% of your daily calories.  Choose from poultry, non-fat dairy like yoghurt, cheese or whey protein, whole eggs, or lean red meat.

Tip #5 – Decrease Your Stress and Get More Sleep

Stress can have a major impact on your hormone levels particularly those that are involved in appetite, mood and food cravings. When stress goes up, cortisol levels go up, this in turn can cause an increase in epinephrine, which can lead to an increased use of sugar in response to the flight or fight response, but this short burst of energy can lead to a subsequent fall, along with an increase in hunger and cravings for more sugar.  A recent study showed that women who experienced more stress also craved sugar and had significantly larger waist circumferences, along with higher levels of the hunger hormone leptin and lower levels of the happy hormone serotonin.

What to Do About it:  Get more sleep and stress less.  Sleep at least 7 to 8 hours per night to help with recovery and balance hormone levels.  In addition invest some time in exercise, meditation or even yoga to help reduce stress and keep cortisol levels in balance.

8 Tips to make a fresh start for the New Year

Tip #6 – Stop Crash Dieting

Instead of strict dieting, crash dieting, or following fad diets start eating healthy for life.  Dieting on too little calories, abstaining from certain foods, and eating too few carbs will only result in fatigue, low energy levels, hunger and of course sugar cravings. You may get results quickly, but this will only be short-lived, eventually your cravings will get the better of you and you will end up giving in eventually.

What to Do About It:  Follow a diet that is sustainable and balanced in carbs, protein and fats and provides the right amount of calories that can sustain energy levels for your activity levels and goals.  Your diet should be made up of fresh, wholesome and natural ingredients including vegetables, fruit, lean proteins, and complex, fibrous carbs.

Lauren Jacobsen
Nutrition Director for Kcal

Health & Nutrition

4 Easy Diet Switches to Drop Sugar for Good

posted by FitnessFirst Team April 18, 2016 0 comments

Hooked on sugar?  It’s not hard to be considering the physiological response sugar can have in our bodies.  Sugar provides a quick burst of energy, can stimulate mood and satisfy cravings, but these effects are short-lived.  Sugar highs are followed by sugar lows that can trigger the complete opposite reaction, leaving you feeling fatigued, moody and craving more sugar.  The best defense against sugar is to cut if from your diet, after all sugar is nutrient poor and calorie-rich, and continually eating it only leads to health issues long-term.  Making a few simple diet switches can help you cut out sugar for good.

1. Switch Juices to Water

You might think that drinking juice is a better choice over soda, but this is not the case. Juice maybe natural but it’s also full of sugar, and lacks the fiber that you get in the full fruit version.  You will also end up getting about 5 to 6 servings of the fruit in a single glass versus eating one piece!  Instead of reaching for juice to satisfy your thirst, drink water and plenty of it.  Water can help fill you up without the added sugar.  Have a hard time just drinking water?  Add slices of lemon, lime or make a water infusion with slices of citrus fruit, cucumber or even strawberries.  And if you still want juice, mix half juice and half water or sparkling water to cut calories and sugar.


2. Switch Simple Carbs with Complex Ones

Simple carbs like white rice, pasta and bread are loaded in sugar!  These simple carbs can spike blood glucose levels leading to a release of insulin, whose primary job is to quickly clear the blood of glucose, shuttling it to either be stored in muscle or fat. Once the blood is cleared from glucose, energy levels fall and hunger and cravings can increase once again.  The problem with this constant energy high and low is that your body’s storage capacity becomes limited and instead of burning off those calories, the body starts storing them in your fat! Switching your simple carbs for complex carbs that are high in fiber and lower in sugar can decrease blood glucose spiking and reduce sugar cravings, since they take much longer to digest versus simple carbs.  Complex carbs include non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and squashes, lentils and beans, or whole grains such as brown rice, oatmeal or quinoa.


3. Switch Carbs for More Protein

Eating a diet that provides more protein and less carbs can help keep hunger and sugar cravings in check.  Protein has a satiating effect in the body that can reduce appetite.  In fact one study showed that eating a high protein snack of yogurt led to less hunger and delayed eating by up to 30-minutes compared to a high carb chocolate snack.  What’s more, eating the high protein snack led to eating 100 less calories at later meals.  Following a diet that provides at least 40% protein will help control hunger and reduce appetite while also helping to maintain lean muscle.   Pick lean proteins such as lean cuts of red meat, fatty fish like salmon, chicken, turkey, whole eggs, or non-fat dairy like plain non-fat Greek yogurt.


4. Switch Processed Foods for Whole Natural Foods

Processed foods are often laced with simple carbs and refined sugar.  If you’re eating any processed products like crackers, cereals, white bread, or pasta then you’re definitely taking in extra sugar you don’t need.  Instead of eating processed foods, switch to eating only whole natural foods that do not contain added ingredients.  Instead of pasta try spaghetti squash or a hearty side of vegetables.  Realistically you should be able to purchase all your food from the exterior perimeter of any grocery store, where all the natural fresh foods are located, and avoid the interior aisles where most boxed processed food is located.

By Lauren Jacobsen
Nutrition Director for Kcal

10 Steps to help you detox SUGAR from your body

8 Tips to make a fresh start for the New Year
Health & Nutrition

IF NOT NOW WHEN? 8 Tips to make a fresh start for the New Year

posted by FitnessFirst Team December 21, 2015 2 Comments

With the New Year approaching, comes the opportunity for a fresh start. Make sure your main goal is switching to a healthier lifestyle and maintain/achieving a healthy weight.

1. Find your motivation

What’s your motivation? Losing weight? Looking better in clothes? Feeling more energetic? Or simply improving your health? Get clear about what you really want and why you want to change, and use it to inspire you.

2. Set a S.M.A.R.T. Goal

S: Specific. Make your goal is specific. It should be exactly what you want
M: Measurable. You can measure your progress, so you can track yourself
A: Attainable. Set small goals you can achieve in a short time
R: Realistic. Do not set impossible goals
T: Timely. Set a time to achieve your goal

3. Start changing gradually

Your first small step toward wellness can be a giant leap for your self-confidence. Don’t make the mistake of turning your life into an existence you no longer recognize as your own. Any unwise habits you have probably took years to form. Your best chance to change them is to take it slowly. Drastic changes make you lose your self-control on food. Make sure your changes are gradual so you can get used to them and you can preserve in the long term.

4. Fill up on vegetables

Vegetables are not only high in vitamins, minerals, and fibers but also fill you up with fewer calories. Make sure you are adding veggies to your daily meals. Fill half of your plate with vegetables, or start your meal with salad, this helps you not to overeat from the main dish.

8 Tips to make a fresh start for the New Year


5. Rate your plate on every meal

Make sure your plate on every meal is equivalent to my plate. Divide your plate into four quarters:

  • ¼ for fruits (choose whole fruits)
  • ¼ for vegetables (choose a variety)
  • ¼ for protein (choose animal lean protein, or plant based protein)
  • ¼ for carbohydrate (make sure most of your daily carbohydrates are whole)

6. Enjoy your food but eat less, so how you can do it?

  • Use a smaller plate, bowl or glass and choose smaller portions. Use a smaller serving spoon.
  • Take a small portion of your favorite foods that may be high in calories or salt and enjoy each bite.
  • Take your time to enjoy your food, your brain needs at least 20 minutes to realize that you are full
  • Stop eating when you are satisfied, not full

7. Not skipping your meals especially breakfast

Skipping meals, does not help you in weight loss strategy, it sets your goal back. Skipping meals put your body in starvation mode (your body thinks that you are starving and starts to store fat), and also skipping meals leads to binging on your next meal. And keep in mind your body is like a car (if you do not put fuel in it, it will not move), same if you do not put nutrition in your body it will not burn calories.

8. Physical activity

Add exercise to your daily bases make sure you are exercising at least 150 minutes per week (moderate intensity exercise). Remember healthy nutrition will not make you lose weight without physical activity, and physical activity will not make you fit without healthy nutrition.

8 Tips to make a fresh start for the New YearIf you find or you think it is difficult to start alone, you can ask for help from our experts, or simply ask for support from your family or friends. Remember that good health is a result of your overall eating pattern.

Every next meal is a new opportunity to nourish your body!

Banin Shahine
Nutrition Manager
Fitness First Middle East

Health & Nutrition

The Importance of Nutrition

posted by FitnessFirst Team October 14, 2014 0 comments

When you adopt fitness as a part of your lifestyle, you will no doubt be introduced to proper nutrition as a part of the program, the two go hand in hand. We are really excited to announce that FitnessFirst will be launching a new Nutrition Service ‘Nutrition by Fitness First, as we believe Nutrition is an integral component to a healthy lifestyle and achieving your fitness goals. . More news on this exciting launch coming soon…..

The facts are you cannot exercise and expect to achieve your ideal body shape if you are not eating right. You need to include a healthy nutritious diet along with your workout routines in order to live a full healthy lifestyle and get results.

Without proper nutrition, your body will not hold up with exercise alone. While you can maintain a healthy lifestyle if you just exercise alone, you will be so much healthier if you practice good nutrition. Food is nature’s medicine cabinet and you could look at food as a way of being a good preventive measure against illness and disease as well.

Food works with the body to either build up or tear down the immune system. If you eat junk food the immune system will suffer and as a result you will be susceptible to coming down with common illnesses, infections and potentially detrimental illnesses caused from free radicals. The nutrients in healthy whole foods help to boost the immune system and thus help to fight off both minor and major infections including free radicals. (Free radicals can cause health conditions like cancer and MS.)

Antioxidants are highly recommended to slow cell damage. Many people have heard of antioxidants, but not too many people know what they actually are. An “antioxidant” is not a substance; it’s a behavior. Any compound that can donate electrons and counteract free radicals has antioxidant properties.

Natural antioxidants are found in fruits and vegetables, marine plants, and some seafood that eat marine plants. There are thousands of antioxidant compounds out there, but the most common dietary ones are vitamins A, C, and E, beta-carotene, and lycopene. Antioxidants can also be produced artificially and consumed in supplement form.

People have been able to reduce high blood press and high cholesterol just by changing their diet and adding physical activity. Often, doctors will prescribe a diet change and regular exercise before prescribing prescription medications to help with hypertension and to help lower high cholesterol levels. They do this because in most patients, diet and exercise will help to bring about the desired health results. Imagine if you can possibly cure conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol with diet and exercise how much more you can prevent just by making these minor changes in your lifestyle.

A nutritious diet and exercise plan should not be viewed as a temporary fix. You should think of doing this permanently for the long term. Your diet and exercise may need to change as time goes by to adjust to your fitness goals. For example, a nutrition plan for someone training for a Triathlon will differ significantly for a Body Builder. Exercise and Nutrition go hand in hand and should be something you do on a daily basis as part of your lifestyle. Eat right every day and if you want to include treats or ‘cheat meals’ limit it to once a week. Keep watching for ideas on nutritious meals to include in your daily meal plans.