Lose fat mass through fasted cardio?

It is known that to lose body fat is to improve metabolic health; however diet alone is not effective to achieve this purpose. The combination of the correct diet with exercise is considered the most optimal and effective means. In recent years, due people desiring to find the effective fat loss mechanisms, numerous hypotheses have been formulated on the question:

Is fasting aerobic training an effective strategy to improve fat loss?

The theory is if we implement cardio exercise of mild intensity first thing in the morning (i.e. after an evening fast of 8 hours) it would increase the loss of body fat. This theory is supported by the fact that fasting, with low glycogen and low insulin levels, would increase the rate of oxidation of fats as an energy source. That means utilizing the fatty acids in the blood stream and elevating lipolytic hormones (fat burning hormones). This is not seen in exercise after having breakfast.

It has been found that training after having breakfast, would paralyze the mobilization of fatty acids, because carbohydrates would then be the first energy source used, and therefore a reduction in the rate of lipid oxidation.

There is further evidence, that a fasting cardiovascular training would help activate different metabolic signals that would produce an adaptation to long-term training in favor of improving or increasing the oxidation of fatty acids, such as an improvement in mitochondrial bio genesis (fatty acids are oxidized in the mitochondria). Other possible benefits of fasted training are increased insulin sensitivity and better glucose tolerance. This would be very important in populations with metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, or in high-level athletes, where their carbohydrate intake is quite high. Fasting cardiovascular training would therefore help them have a better tolerance when consuming carbohydrates.

To add to the conversation, when we are discussing fat loss, what ultimately counts is the global calorie consumption over a long period time, and not just a specific moment after doing a type of fasting exercise. That is to say – are we only concerned with the immediate loss of fat?

A study by Shoenfeld B et al (2014) assessed differences in body composition (fat loss and muscle gain) in a group of healthy women who followed a supervised low-calorie diet. They were divided into 2 groups, one of which had to exercise in the first hour of the morning, and the other group after having breakfast. The training consisted of an hour of mild cardio for 3 times a week, and the diet was a caloric deficit of 500 gms per day according to the needs of the participants. The results showed to have no difference in both groups with respect to body composition, body mass index, fat mass and fat-free mass (lean mass).

Van Proeyen et al, 2016 conducted a study on a group of healthy individuals, using a isocalaric diet, and there were no differences in body composition in both groups at the end of the study, suggesting that the caloric global computation would play an important role beyond fasting per se. The same thing happened in the study with obese people, no group showed significant differences in body composition but both lost fat mass from the lower and abdominal area.

Even so we cannot generalize these results with the dynamics of our human nature. Our body uses different energy sources during the day physiologically, and although at a specific time there is a higher rate of lipid oxidation, this could be compensated with increased use of carbohydrates later in the day if there is an intake thereof. Therefore, lipid oxidation should be considered as a process that occurs over time and not in one hour of exercise a day.


Our conclusion is that caloric balance is still paramount for a decisive body composition.

Thus, for those looking for an improvement in body composition or fat loss, a Gentle cardio exercise will have the same result if you fast or not. If, on the contrary, our goal was to improve at the level of metabolic signaling, including a fasting exercise in our training schedule would be optimal and effective in improving our health parameters.

This is only a general recommendation to guide the population, but any treatment or guideline must be according to individualized preferences and as long as overall calorie balance is controlled over time. Our priority is individualization and is the key to success in the final results.


Sandra Serrano, Physiotherapist, Msc Clinical & Sport Nutrition, sandra@dubaihtc.com  | Dubai Herbal and Treatment Center

Eat Well & Keep moving

Ayurvedic Massage: Everything You Need To Know About ‘Abhyangam’

The word ‘Abhyangam’ is composed of two Sanskrit words, abhi and anga. Abhi means ‘towards’ and anga, in one of its meanings, refers to ‘movement’.

Abhyangam is a synchronized massaging of the body towards the direction of the movement of arterial blood. In practical terms it means massaging the body in the direction of the body hair. The scientific reason for this is to increase the blood flow towards the most distal parts of the body and avoid overwhelming the heart through increased venous return if the massage is done towards the heart, or in other words, in the direction opposite to that of the body hair.

Abhyangam may be done using oil, herbal powder, herbal pastes or ghee. It is a part of the daily routine suggested by Ayurveda. It is used for relief of pain, stiffness and tiredness. It also forms an important part of snehana or oleation which is an indispensable prelude to Panchakarma treatments, the five Ayurvedic detoxification therapies.

Abhyangam not only prepares the body for Panchakarma, but also helps to mobilize the dosha from the periphery toward the core in order to get them eliminated through the body orifices. The Vata dosha is particularly pacified by Abhyangam but even Pitta and Kapha can be pacified using different massage mediums like ghee and herbal powders respectively. Abhyangam is considered an important treatment modality for balancing the dosha.

The difference between Ayurvedic massage (Abhyangam) and regular massage

Abhyangam and other types of massage are the same in that both involve the basic manipulation techniques that have been developed through experience by different schools and have been passed on from generation to generation. Interestingly, Ayurvedic texts do not give details of the procedures involved in Abhyangam but mention ‘samvahan’ which means gentle rubbing, ‘peedan’ which means pressing and squeezing and ‘mardan’ which means pressure massage, which corresponds to modern day massage techniques. Different Abhyangam techniques have been developed over centuries. Marma massage and Kerala foot massage which were traditionally used to heal injured warriors were carefully guarded secrets. Now they are being taught to other seekers as well.

Abhyangam differs from other massage in that it invariably uses oil for massaging the body. Unlike massage which is used more for recreation and relaxation, Abhyangam is a therapeutic procedure in many Vata disorders. Different oils are used to encourage different therapeutic effects on the body. This type of distinction is not made by modern day massage therapy, unless combined with aromatherapy.


Myth 1: Breakfast, it’s ‘The Most Important Meal of the Day’

You may have heard many times that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and as such you shouldn’t skip it. So many people eat breakfast unwillingly, thinking it will favor them in weight loss.

The evidence shows that skipping breakfast has very small effect on weight control.(1) In a study of people who skipped breakfast, they ended up eating about 150 kcal more at lunch (the next meal), compared to people who had breakfast as their first meal in the morning. However, at the end of the day their total calorie intake was about 400 kcal lower than people who had eaten breakfast.(2) A calorie deficit of 400 kcal will marginally influence your weight. There are much more effective ways to affect your weight control.

So, our advice is more related to the quality of food. If there is protein on the table at breakfast -great, this will help you feel more satisfied and reduce your subsequent calorie intake throughout the day strongly and positively influencing weight control. However, if on the contrary your breakfast is based on sugary cocoa and biscuits, we advise you to skip it.

 Myth 2: Egg Yolk Is ‘Bad’

How many times have we heard that egg yolk is bad because it has cholesterol?

Yes, it is true that foods high in cholesterol (such as eggs) may increase LDL (bad) cholesterol in some people but, on average, this only happens to a very small degree.(3) However what has been found is some of the micronutrients and other bioactive compounds present in the egg yolk might positively impact cholesterol absorption. Many studies have not been able to find an increase in cholesterol in those who consume eggs frequently.(4, 5)

 Myth 3: Consuming Salt is ‘Bad’

In the literature there have been studies that associate excess salt with hypertension (high blood pressure)(6), kidney damage(7) and an increased risk of cognitive decline(8).

However, we know that salt contains sodium which is an essential mineral and its consumption is very important for health. Therefore, the problem occurs when too much sodium and too little potassium is consumed concurrently. Another problem is the origin of all that salt. And as a general rule, people who consume large amounts of processed food are directly taking large amounts of refined salt (bad salt) and in many cases exceeding the recommended daily amounts.

We can say that the evidence supports the consumption of salt to taste, even in hypertensive, that is, that salt that we throw ourselves into meals, being very unlikely that we exceed the average value suggested by international guides (>5g sodium per day).

Yet in research, eating a low sodium diet is less conclusively healthy, as it could lead to states of hyponatremia, especially in athletes, being able to seriously affect health. The conclusion is both very high and very low sodium intake are associated with cardiovascular disease.(9)

Myth 4: Fats Are ‘Bad’

How many times have you heard that eating fat makes you fat? Traditionally people who wanted to lose weight underwent a low-fat diet. Current evidence suggests that, with a caloric deficit and the same protein intake, diets low in fat or diets low in carbohydrates lead to similar weight loss.(10)

It is important to consider that avoiding any fat intake and removing it from your diet completely can be counterproductive. We need sources of ESSENTIAL fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for life and full function of the body. As for saturated fats are the main driver of cardiovascular diseases, this is just another myth.

Fats that have been shown to be harmful to our health are ‘trans’ fats contained in ultra-processed foods. The ‘trans’ fats you should avoid are a by-product of partially hydrogenated oils, which is a common ingredient present in ultra-processed foods. These foods are often consumed in much larger quantities. This type of industrial fat has been linked to more than half a million coronary heart diseases and increased risk of death worldwide.

So eat healthy fats only!

Myth 5: Red Meat Is ‘Bad’

You’ve may have heard that red meat causes cancer however cancer is a multifactorial disease, that is, it has many causes. Linking red meat directly to cause cancer is not possible. What has been shown is compounds such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (found in smoked meats) can damage the genome. And damaging the genome is the first step toward possible cancer. Current evidence suggests that processed red meats (particularly those that have been most ‘charred’ during cooking) could present an increased risk in cancer in those with very nutrient-poor diets and an unhealthy lifestyle in general(11), but if you choose quality meat sources, exercise regularly, consume fruits, vegetables, high-fiber foods, avoid smoking and drinking, the effect of red meat on cancer is something you shouldn’t worry about.

Although, there is some low-quality evidence that eating a lot of red meat or processed meat could increase your risk of type II diabetes and other cardio metabolic diseases. Our advice is:

  • Eat good quality meat
  • limit your quantity of red meat to 2 servings a week
  • eliminate the consumption of processed meats from your dietary habits all together

Stay Healthy & Stay Active,


Elena Naranjo, Physiotherapist & Nutrition Coach at DHTC

IBS and Chinese Herbal Medicine


Between 10 to 15 percent of people worldwide are affected by the Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Traditional Chinese medicine herbs may improve symptoms of abdominal pain, bloating and distension caused by IBS.




What is IBS?

A common and chronic health condition, irritable bowel syndrome is a gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine, or the colon, and can cause the following symptoms:

  • Cramping
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

Symptoms range from mild to severe, and can be managed through a variety of natural methods, including diet modification, stress reduction and lifestyle changes, and traditional Chinese medicine herbs.

The benefits of natural treatment

Using traditional Chinese medicine herbs for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders offers many benefits, including:

  • Management of symptoms when conventional therapies prove ineffective
  • A lack of adverse side effects
  • A strengthening boost for the immune system
  • Aid in general health maintenance

There are many lifestyle changes, which you can help you alleviate the symptoms of IBS. Some of them are:

  • Have regular eating times–The digestive system really loves it when it knows you are going to regularly feed your body.  Often times having 3 meals at regular times a day makes a huge difference.
  • Sit down, chew your food and eat slowly. Sit down, chew your food, turn off the TV, eat with people you like. Your ability to digest increases when you are calm and relaxed. Digestion begins in the mouth with chewing.  Patients with digestive issues that has taken on the commitment to slow down, sit down and chew their food has seen improvement in their digestion–whether they have GERD, ulcers, IBS or just a little gas and bloating.
  • Avoid spicy foods–too much spice will aggravate the heat patterns of IBS.
  • Avoid raw food–too many raw or cold foods quells the digestive system.

Dubai Herbal & Treatment Centre also provides below services to effectively treat IBS:

  • Colon Hydrotherapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Chinese Herbs
  • Food Intolerance Test
  • Nutrition consultation