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Article Contributor: Personal Trainers Craig Lapsley
With so many diets available for men and women in the UAE it can be hard to decide which one might be right for you.
Any diet needs to include a good exercise or personal training program for the best results and dieting (or eating well) should always be viewed as a long term lifestyle change rather than a quick fix.
Although the Keto diet is not new, the concept of a Keto Diet will be new to many people.
We asked a professional personal trainer in Dubai, Craig Lapsley for his views on Keto.
For many people, dieting seems to be part of their life. Often going from one fad diet to another without addressing the underlying causes that might be contributing to why they have weight management problems.
The Keto diet is an elimination diet and is not suitable for everyone. It’s often used as a short term diet option for men and women in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah who want to lose weight quickly. Because of this it’s advised that you speak to a professional for advice before you start Keto.
A ketogenic diet is a diet low enough in carbohydrate to bring the body into nutritional ketosis.
Organs such as the brain can only use glucose as fuel. This means that if glucose is low enough in the body you will increase production of ketones from fat which the body can use as energy. Once these ketone concentrations are high enough you will be in nutritional ketosis, or on a ketogenic diet.
So, a ketogenic diet is more like a state the body is in rather than a type of diet you follow. Although, we are always producing ketones to a certain degree so it is the concentration of these ketones being produced that classifies you as being in nutritional ketosis or what we simply call being on a ketogenic diet.
Nutritional ketosis has been labelled as some as the ‘sweet spot’ for mental and sports performance but this is up for debate.
To achieve a ketogenic state, you have to eat a very low carbohydrate diet (usually 20-50g net carbs per day) and also keep protein moderate as excess amino acids will be converted to glucose.
The remaining calories in your diet have to come from fat. So, it is basically a very low carb, high fat diet.
I wouldn’t label the keto diet as a fad or craze as it is a form or eating that has been around for a long time. A ketogenic diet is not a “diet” in the sense it means you will lose weight but in the sense of it is a way of eating.
As with any diet, the ketogenic diet will only help you lose weight if you are in a calorie deficit. Meaning you are burning more calories than you consume.
In saying that, the ketogenic diet has been shown to be just as good for weight loss as a low-fat diet when calories are matched. I should emphasize “just as good”, as it is not any better in general. Whether or not it is better will depend on the individual client’s suitability for the diet.
A keto diet has been shown to be good at suppressing hunger levels which can make it a good diet to lose weight if you find appetite hard to control.
In my opinion, sometimes starting with quick fix weight loss options are a good idea as it gives fast results which increase motivation and reduces the time a client needs to spend on a diet. As long as this is then followed up by the correct lifestyle changes to maintain the results.
Keto can help with quick weight loss because cutting out carbohydrates from the diet will lower muscle glycogen levels. With every 1 gram of glycogen that is stored in the body 3 grams of water is stored with it. So, cutting out carbohydrates will usually result in a weight drop of a 1-3 kilograms in a week. This however is just weight loss and not body fat loss. Body fat loss will only come depending on the size of the calorie deficit.
For some clients cutting out most carbohydrate foods will result in a calorie deficit so lead to quick body fat loss along with weight loss. A ketogenic diet is also great for suppressing hunger levels. This can lead to a lower calorie intake and better compliance with the diet which increases fat loss.
With a keto diet it is essential to stick to the rules of very low carbohydrate intake (30-50g per day) and moderate protein or your body will come out of nutritional ketosis. It then takes around 2-5 days of sticking to the diet before you are back in ketosis again.
That 2-5 day period when the body is adapting is where most people feel negative side effects of the diet. The is usually called the ‘keto-flu’ and makes people feel very lethargic.
As you can see having a cheat day once a week while trying to follow this diet would lead to a very negative diet experience overall.
A ketogenic diet is not suitable for all groups. Children should not go on a ketogenic diet unless they have a neurological disorder such as Epilepsy. In which case a ketogenic diet has been shown to massively reduce the incidence of seizures. Of course, this should still only be done under the advisement of a doctor.
Clients with a susceptibility to depression or anxiety should be careful with a ketogenic diet.
If you do any sort of anaerobic endurance sport your performance will more than likely be hindered by following a ketogenic diet as a high level of glycogen is needed to perform well.
Other clients that are not suitable for a keto diet are those that like to eat out a lot. Trying to control the number of carbs, especially in the form of sugar, that is added to recipes can be almost impossible unless ordering from a keto friendly restaurant.
On the other end, if you find that hunger gets the better of you during a diet then ketogenic could be for you. Also, if a client does not tolerate carbohydrates well then the ketogenic diet might be a good option.
The long-term dangers are really dependent on how the client shapes the diet themselves. As it is a diet low in carbs it can be hard to get enough fiber which long-term can be important for bowel health.
It can also be harder to get certain vitamins and anti-oxidants that a client would normally get from fruit so good food choices are important to keep the diet healthy.
As the diet is high in fat it is also important to intake a balanced fatty acid ratio. A diet very high in omega 6 levels with a lot of trans fats will affect health long-term so again food choices are important.
An equal balance of saturated (eggs, red meat), monounsaturated (olive oil, avocado) and Polyunsaturated (fatty fish, walnuts) is best.
Training is important while on the keto diet just like any other diet. Exercise will burn more calories meaning a higher food intake can be maintained while still losing weight.
Training with some form of resistance exercise (such as weight training) will also help to maintain muscle mass while losing body fat which leads to a more ‘toned’ look and keeps metabolism higher.
A ketogenic diet is not necessarily more time consuming to prepare than other diets as long as you have a plan in place. Food choices are important so buying the proper ingredients beforehand is vital to the success of the diet.
Eating ‘on the fly’ can be much harder as can be difficult to find keto friendly meals in places like coffee shops or fast food outlets. For this reason pre preparation is mostly essential.
The restrictions on what you can eat can make it more time consuming and harder to follow for the average person but like any diet, once you have gained experience following the diet it will become routine.
Here are some sample meals but remember that intake is individual depending the client and how much food they require for them.
My top tips for any client following a ketogenic diet are:
• Go on the diet because you think it will suit you as an individual and not because you have heard it is the best diet for fat loss
• Plan what you will eat in advance and buy all of the ingredients in so you are not lost for what to eat
• Measure your keto levels at first so that you know you are actually in ketosis. Keto strips which measure the level of ketones in the urine are easy to use.
• Plan to be on the diet all of the time, so do not start it if you have a holiday coming up
• Prepare to feel terrible the first week of the diet until your body adapts
Keto in the UAE can be good choice if you want to lose weight when combined with a personal fitness program. However, it’s not for everyone so make sure you seek professional advice before starting a Keto diet in the UAE.
No matter your starting point you can make a massive change to your mind, body and health when personally training in Dubai with Craig. It may have taken Craig a number of years to change his own lifestyle but with the knowledge he has obtained he can transform your physique in a matter of weeks.
In Dubai Craig provides personal training for weight loss, muscle building, core strength training, kickboxing and more. Whether you have a specific training need to feel you want to be fitter and healthier in general Craig has the skills to ensure all you personal fitness needs are met in full.
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