eat healthy as a couple
Health & Nutrition

How to eat healthy as a couple? 10 Tips from the Expert

posted by FitnessFirst Team March 9, 2017 0 comments

Eating healthy as a single is relatively easy. Less stress and less “problems” to look at, allows you to focus on the quality of the nutrients and on the amounts and portions in every meal. The struggle begins when you start a relationship and other problems get in the way and start reducing your capacity to focus on your diet.

How many people do you know that when they started dating or when they got married, noticed a weight increase? I believe the answer will be the majority. Lets see what actually happens and give you some tips on how to dribble the weight gain.

It all starts in dating, usually couples favorite ride is the movie theater, with right to popcorn, soda and chocolate. Dinners with pastas, pizzas, wine and other tasty foods, become the perfect tour. After they decide to get married and live together, preparations for marriage begin. It is such a rush, stress, concern for everything to work out, that this anxiety ends up being discounted in food, either in excess or in fasting, which is also a mistake. After this point they start living as a couple and all the habits and diet they were used to before changes completely.

According to some specialists men have a tendency to consume more food than they really need in the main meals and woman have a tendency to the consumption of foods high in calories like ice-creams and chocolates out of the main meals which will affect each other negatively.

That is the main cause of weight gain in couples when there is no control from both sides to avoid it. The man tends to store the fat in the belly and the women more in the thighs and butt. This excess of weight can impair confidence and self-esteem, as well as cause obesity-related physical illnesses such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, just to mention a few.

Knowing all this you should start prioritizing your other half to “build” a healthier diet as a couple and fight the bad habits that both of you brought to the relationship and that can cause problems for each other.

Here are some tips to help you:

  • Get together and find out a list of foods that are healthy and that can suit both tastes
  • Make a shopping list for the week. This will help you keeping track of the diet and will control the excess
  • Go to the grocery store together but not when you’re hungry. Eating before shopping reduces the chance of buying unnecessary foods rich in calories and poor in nutrients
  • Try to get more natural foods without pesticides or chemical additives
  • Avoid buying packet snacks, stuffed biscuits and candy
  • Read product labels, see the nutritional value, product ingredients and expiration date. The less saturated fat, chemical additives, colorings, sugars and sodium, the healthier the product is
  • Avoid all the sodas and juices. Rich in sugars, they will not bring any health benefits to your diet and they will extremely increase the calories in your daily count
  • Avoid buying ready-to-eat foods, give preference to separate ingredients and prepare to cook at home, so you know exactly what you are consuming and also ensuring proper hygiene during food preparation
  • If you are both at home on the weekend and feel like eating something different, choose a healthy and practical option. For example: instead of ordering pizza or fast food, make a home-made pizza with low-calorie ingredients that you might have in your kitchen
  • Help each other preparing the “work meals”. Instead of eating in the cafeteria of the work place or the vending machine, make some healthy sandwiches in the morning or even the night before. There are so many possible combinations that I’m sure you can find several that can suit both tastes. Suggestions: eggs, white cheese, ricotta, cottage cheese, turkey breast, lean turkey, shredded chicken, sliced meat, raw vegetables and nut butters.

Healthy Diet

Last but not least try to increase the number of calories burned. A daily walk in the park, practice of a sport that you both enjoy or a gym training together will make a huge difference in your calorie balance and bring you more energy and happiness, making the bond between you both stronger and healthier!

André Ferreira
Fitness Manager
Fitness First, The Lakes Dubai

10 Steps to help you detox SUGAR from your body
Health & Nutrition

10 Steps to help you detox SUGAR from your body

posted by FitnessFirst Team April 4, 2016 0 comments

The truth is we are eating way more sugar than we need and there are a lot of hidden added sugars in our diets we are unaware of.

Our sweet tooth could be doing serious damage to our health, leading to weight gain, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels and an increased risk for diabetes type 2 (insulin independent), high Triglyceride and cholesterol levels, depression, migraine, gout… just a few of the harmful effects for sugar.

According to the American Diet Association that daily intake of sugar should not be more than 7% of daily caloric intake, that’s equivalent to 6 teaspoons for woman and about 9 teaspoons for man.

Sugar in excess can be harmful and cost a lot of problems, such as craving, binge eating, weight gain and heart diseases. Eating too much sugar triggers a release of the hormone insulin which might give you a nice jolt of energy, but over time, the metabolism becomes inefficient and you begin to feel sluggish.

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

The idea is to limit our consumption of sugar and cut back on foods that are high in sugar low in nutrition and easy to overeat such as soft drinks, sweets and pastries. We should focus on foods that provide important nutrients along with the sugar they contain like yoghurt and fruits.

Steps to help you detox sugar from your body:

1. Don’t go cold turkey: Reduce the sugar added to your diet and make sure it’s done gradually to give your buds time to adjust. Substitute sugar with flavors to your hot and cold drinks, such as cinnamon and vanilla.

2. Know your sugars: there 3 different kinds of sugar that found naturally in food; glucose, “blood sugar”, the simplest sugar your body use for energy and found in grains, and starch. Galactose, a sugar in milk (and yogurt), fructose, a sugar found in honey and fruits.

3. Eat real food: indulge in complex carbohydrates, including fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains like brown rice and legumes.

4. Eliminate foods containing sugar: all sodas, fruit drinks that aren’t 100 percent juice, desserts, processed foods, candy and condiments.

5. Balance your carbs and protein intake, and add more protein to your food, to help you feel full for longer time to stabilize your blood sugar and prevent cravings.

6. Do not skip meals, it’s ideal to eat small frequent meals during the day to help your body balance your sugar levels, make sure you are having at least 5 meals a day.

7. Stick to low GI foods in your meals and snack options which include most fruits and vegetables.

8. Avoid low fat and diet foods which contain hidden sugars and avoid artificial sweeteners.

9. Read Food Labels: sugar, in its various forms, hides in many of the foods that we eat every day.

10. Make the pledge: don’t delay and start feeling your best!

Once you start cutting added sugars from your diet your energy levels will improve, you will lose weight, sleep better, your bad cholesterol will go down, your skin will improve, your sugar cravings and fatigue will diminish and you will feel better. The ultimate goal is to have a permanent lifestyle change.

Glycemic Index (GI)

According to American Diabetic association, the Glycemic index, or GI, measures how a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood glucose. Foods are ranked based on how they compare to a reference food — either glucose or white bread. A food with a high GI raises blood glucose more than a food with a medium or low GI.

Low GI Foods (55 or less) Medium GI (56-69) High GI (70 or more)
100% stone-ground whole wheat or pumpernickel bread Whole wheat, rye and pita bread White bread or bagel
Oatmeal (rolled or steel-cut), oat bran, muesli Quick oats Corn flakes, puffed rice, bran flakes, instant oatmeal
Pasta, converted rice, barley, bulgar Brown, wild or basmati rice, couscous Short grain white rice, rice pasta, macaroni and cheese from mix
Sweet potato, corn, yam, lima/butter beans, peas, legumes and lentils Russet potato, pumpkin
Most fruits, non-starchy vegetables and carrots   Pretzels, rice cakes, popcorn, saltine crackers
Melons and pineapple  

10 Steps to help you detox SUGAR from your body
Food Labels:
Terms which indicate sugar has been added to the product in one form or another

Agave nectar
Agave syrup
Barley malt
Beet sugar
Brown rice syrup
Brown sugar
Buttered syrup
Cane sugar
Cane juice
Cane juice crystals
Carob syrup
Confectioner’s sugar
Corn syrup
High fructose corn syrup
Corn sugar
Corn sweetener
Corn syrup solids
Crystalized fructose
Date sugar
Diastatic malt
Evaporated cane juice
Fruit juice
Fruit juice concentrate
Glucose solids
Golden sugar
Golden syrup
Grape sugar
Grape juice concentrate
Invert sugar
Maple syrup
Raw sugar
Refiner’s syrup
Sorghum syrup
Turbinado sugar
Yellow sugar

Banin Shahine
Nutrition Manager
Fitness First Middle East

4 Dietary Ways To Balance Hormones Naturally
Health & Nutrition

3 Dietary Ways To Balance Hormones Naturally

posted by FitnessFirst Team March 7, 2016 0 comments

Hormone Imbalance and Nutrition

There is a great correlation between healthy balanced eating and hormones within the body. Whatever you’re eating is either helping the production of hormones or hindering it.

Who doesn’t want a healthy reproductive system, healthy immune system, balanced hormones and glowing skin? The consumption of nutrient dense foods will open your hormonal production pathway.

The body doesn’t produce all the hormones needed correctly or sufficiently for the body on its own, therefore it create hormone imbalance especially in women which leads to a lot of complications.

Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance

Some of the most common symptoms of hormone imbalance include:

  • Chronic Fatigue: are you always tired?
  • Acne: cookie faced?
  • Mood Swings: yoyo moods?
  • Diminished Libido: no mojo?
  • Weight Gain: big boned?
  • Memory Loss: who are I?

3 Dietary points to balancing hormones:

1.Clean Lean Protein (not fried) with every meal

Typical Others
Beef Quinoa
Fish Lentils
Poultry: Chicken or Turkey and Eggs Spinach

protein-meal2. Healthy fats (portion control)

Typical Others
Olive Oil Avocado: helps absorb and use nutrients
Nuts and Seeds Coconut Oil: contains lauric acid, helps with hormonal production and helps combat bacteria and viruses in the body
Egg Yolk: contains choline and iodine, important for making healthy thyroid hormones Raw Butter or Ghee

nuts-almonds3. Antioxidant rich veggies (don’t over boil)

Classification Examples
Dark green veggies Broccoli, spinach, cucumber and kale
Brightly colored veggies Bell peppers, tomatoes
Starchy veggies Sweet potatoes, beets, turnips, parsnips


Our bodies have an incredible ability to heal and be in balance, when given the nutrients they need to flourish. Your body is your temple therefore always strive to make it habitable.

Olufemi Olugbemi
Fitness Manager
Fitness First Abu-Dhabi Mall

Eating healthy when on the road
Health & Nutrition

Eating healthy, when on the road!

posted by FitnessFirst Team December 28, 2015 0 comments

Remember the last time you raised a toast, ‘One for the road’! Well, if habits make a man then groom yourself into travel-experience enhancing hacks that will not toss your toned body and hard-earned fitness through the window.

Staying healthy and keeping diet on the track while on the go can be difficult but, read on as Fitness First brings you tips to stay fit while traveling.

Plan ahead in time

A little bit of homework goes a long way to help you plan your schedule and food. You do come across fast food joints a plenty when discovering a new country but they offer limited choices. Opt for a grocery store instead that offers whole and healthy foods like fruits, nuts and salads. A supermarket with a salad bar may not offer you a brownie but will sure earn you brownie points. Home-made snacks like nutty bars, energy bites etc; let you have access to food at all times. So, there’s no skipping meals there!Binge on tasty and heart healthy foods:

Binge on tasty and heart healthy foods

Avoid giving in to temptations. Maximize clean eating like meat, vegetables, nuts and fruits and consciously junk empty calories like processed grains, carbs and aerated, sugary drinks.

Eat less, eat more

That precisely means you should be eating small quantity at frequent intervals. In this way, the body never stores fat for later consumption. It is also easy to burn calories taken in by regular meals rather than loading in one single sitting. Eating too much at one go can also make you sluggish and sleepy, beating the purpose of your vacation.

Raise protein intake

When in need of energy for a long hike, a long drive, or a day at the beach, stoke your body with high-quality, lean protein found in any animal and dairy product. Eating the right amount of complete protein for your weight and activity level stabilizes blood sugar (preventing energy lags), enhances concentration, and keeps you lean and strong.

Keep sipping on water

Yes, water is essential and a life saver! Our body needs water for virtually all of its functions. Drinking plenty of water will flush the body of toxins, keeps the skin fresh, and reduces the appetite. It will also keep you hydrated and aids in avoiding travel lag, symptoms of overexposure to the heat or sun, and junk-food cravings. Believe it or not, many of the unhealthy cravings we experience on the road can be satisfied with a refreshing drink of pure water.

Get picky about choosing restaurants

Select places with a full menu. Not only does that allow you to customize a healthy meal but also take in cooking requests like trimming off visible fat from meat and poultry.

And while we are still at the restaurant, it might just help to keep the following in mind:

  • Select steamed or fresh vegetables and broiled or baked meat instead of fried foods. Roasted or poached fish and meat are also preferable to fried food.
  • Watch your salt intake and use the salt shaker on your table sparingly.
  • Choose the lunch portion, when possible. Lunch portions are usually half the size of dinner portions, but most are still enough to fill up the average diner.
  • Look for pasta dishes with tomato-based sauces, which are generally lower in fat and calories than cream-based sauces. This applies to soups, as well.
  • Drink water or unsweetened tea with your meal, and avoid soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. Most restaurants offer bottled water.
  • Skip dessert. Eating a single slice of chocolate cake after your meal can negate all the healthy choices you made when ordering your dinner. If you really need dessert, ask if the restaurant serves a fresh fruit bowl.

So while you sift through the ‘Lonely Planet’ to lay your sight on the next destination-to-be; remember these simple tips and never forget, ‘Moderation is the key’!

Happy vacationing!

Health & Nutrition

When did you last have something to eat?

posted by FitnessFirst Team October 14, 2014 0 comments

When you are going to plan your day around a gym workout do you consider your nutritional requirements before you go, or do you simply go to the gym and treat food as more of an afterthought?

For some gym-goers ‘pre’ and ‘post’ workout nutrition is the be-all and end-all of their activity, as it can be the deciding factor in a number of fitness outcomes such as gaining muscle, burning fat or having high energy levels to out-perform their previous personal best.  Points to consider are nutrient timing, choice, quality, quantity and daily calorie intake.


On the other hand, some people find that they can perform adequately without any serious thought towards what, when and how much they are eating.  The latter person has possibly stumbled upon a nutritional intake that allows them to exercise within optimal energy parameters, however have you experienced being at the gym where you only last for half of the planned session due to not having enough energy?

In this common scenario as a personal trainer I would ask the person, “when did you last have something to eat?”. If the answer is at 1 pm prior to a 6 pm workout or longer, then I would consider that to be too large a gap to have without food as the body will be running low on energy.  Ideally a 2 to 3 hour gap between a main meal and the workout is considered to be a good ballpark figure for timing before and after, however there are exceptions to this rule.  If you are having one of those days where you haven’t found any time to schedule in a meal then a small snack like a piece of fruit or a ‘liquid meal’ such as a protein smoothie 1 hour before can be the quick answer to overcome lack of energy and hunger pangs whilst not hindering your workout due to faster digestibility.  Some people tolerate eating food relatively close to the workout yet some people need a bit more time to feel comfortable before they can do anything, so the key thing to remember here is that everyone is different and that you might need to undergo a bit of trial and error before you get it right.

At the immediate ‘post-workout’ stage the body is in a catabolic state, meaning it’s breaking down muscle to fuel itself. During this 30-60 minute period, the body is primed to replenish its lost glycogen stores in the muscle and liver alongside repairing and building muscle tissue.  This is a great window of opportunity to add in a protein and carb rich snack such as chicken breast and whole-wheat bread or a protein smoothie from a Fitness First Core Juice Bar.  In my opinion I would opt for the liquid option at this stage, as it will be more easily absorbed than the solid foods and somewhat more palatable immediately after a grueling workout.  As a rule of thumb, between 20 and 40 grams of protein is suitable at the post workout stage for optimal protein synthesis.

Timing your workout for optimal energy levels and digestive comfort is one thing, but you can also boost other aspects of your workout such as enhancing muscle building, prevention of muscle breakdown, more effective utilization of fats and higher levels of energy via the use of specific choices of commercially available workout supplements.

Fitness First Middle East Team