The Most Dangerous Fat Is the Easiest to Lose

It’s every weight loss enthusiast’s dream to zap belly fat but, far from pure vanity, there’s actually a reason why having a lot of fat in the abdominal region can be dangerous. Fat is stored all over our body, but how does an expanding waistline grow your risk for chronic illness?

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Your body’s fat impacts your health differently depending on where it’s stored. While most fat found on other parts of our bodies (think arms, legs, buttocks) are considered “subcutaneous fat,” belly fat is more likely to be “visceral.”

PINCHABLE VERSUS PRESSABLE

“Subcutaneous fat” is the pinchable, squishy fat right between your skin and muscle that helps keep you warm, cushions you against shock, and stores extra calories. “Visceral fat” stores calories too, but isn’t as pinchable because it is located in and around your organs. It’s hidden deep within the belly region, which is what makes it firm (rather than squishy) when you press it.

PROXIMITY

Fat doesn’t just store calories—it’s a living tissue capable of producing and releasing hormones that affect your other organs. Because visceral fat sits near our organs, its release of these chemicals is poorly situated. Having more visceral fat can raise your LDL (a.k.a. “bad” cholesterol) and blood pressure. Visceral fat can also make you less sensitive to insulin, which increases your risk for Type 2 Diabetes.

TELLING BAD BELLY FAT APART

Even if you’re thin, you can still have visceral fat around the abdominal region—being “skinny” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re healthy. There’s no sure-fire way to tell visceral from subcutaneous fat short of an expensive CT scan, but it’s important for you to get a rough idea of what your visceral stores are. Here are a few tricks to figure out where your belly stands:

APPLES AND PEARS: You’re probably wondering, “What does fruit have to do with it?” These two fruits give a quick visual of where most of your fat is stored on the body. Pears tend to store fat in the lower extremities (hips, thighs, buttocks) as subcutaneous fat while apples tend to store fat in the upper region (belly, chest) as visceral fat. It takes a quick inspection, but this is an imperfect way to tell these two fats apart.

WAIST CIRCUMFERENCE (WC): Feel for the top of your hip bone (it’s at the same level as the top of your belly button) and circle a tape measure around this point. Remember to relax and don’t suck in your gut (be honest!). Take 2-3 measurements and figure out the average. Men should have a WC of less than 40 inches (102 cm) and women should have a WC of less than 35 inches (89 cm).

WAIST-TO-HIP RATIO: The waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) takes the circumference of your waist (see above) and divides it by the circumference of your hips. To measure your hips, stand in front of a mirror then figure out the widest part of your butt and measure that circumference. Then use this formula:

WHR = (Waist circumference) / (Hip circumference).

Men should have a WHR of less than 1 while women should have a WHR of less than 0.8.

KNOW YOUR FAMILY HEALTHY HISTORY

If your parents or siblings have insulin resistance, heart disease or non-alcoholic fatty liver, you may be at a greater risk for storing visceral fat. Keeping an eye on your visceral fat may be beneficial, but know that the causes of these chronic diseases are complex. If you’re in doubt, it’s best to speak with your healthcare provider.


BANISHING VISCERAL FAT

If you fall in the normal range for WC and WHR, that’s great! Keep working at your weight goals as you see fit. If you’re not there, don’t despair. Because of its proximity to the liver, visceral fat is usually the easier fat to burn. It’s the less risky subcutaneous fat that likes to stick around.

Unfortunately, you can’t forcefully spot reduce fat around your belly no matter how many crunches you do. The next best thing is to live a healthy lifestyle:

10 Budget-Friendly Spring Foods to Add to Your Plate

Spring brings a literal and metaphorical breath of fresh air as the weather starts to warm after months of cooler temperatures. Along with warmer weather, flowers blooming, and more outdoor activities comes a slew of delicious foods. From in-season produce to fresh flavors that light up your taste buds, the light, zingy flavors of spring mimic the mood of the season.

Eating seasonally is also one of the best ways to stick to a budget, so take advantage of these nutrient-dense picks:

Artichokes peak between March and May. They turn soft when cooked and highlight a slightly nutty flavor, like that of asparagus. At about 50 cents each in peak season, they are full of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins C and K, plus folate. These nutrients work together to support heart health by lowering LDL or “bad” cholesterol and aiding platelets’ clotting ability.

Artichokes’ main claim to fame is the luscious, cheesy spinach and artichoke dip that’s a party favorite. But for a spring take on the vegetable, this baked ziti casserole and lemon chicken and artichoke skillet are great options.

Asparagus is one of the most delectable, versatile vegetables spring has to offer. At less than $3 a bunch, asparagus contains vitamin A to promote eyesight and prevent cancer, vitamin K to bolster healthy bones and fend off heart disease, folate to support pregnancy, and insoluble fiber to improve digestive health.

Simply seasoning grilled asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper is delicious. If you’re looking for something a bit more dynamic, though, try this asparagus pea pasta bowl or asparagus rice bowl with almond pesto.

A 1-pound bag of carrots usually costs less than $1, and carrots’ fiber content makes them ideal for managing blood sugar. Additionally, carrots are rich in vitamin A, which promotes growth and development, vision and immune function. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, so the body can absorb most of this nutrient when the carrots are cooked.

Carrots can be eaten alone, thrown into salads or entrees, or even made into desserts, as they caramelize when cooked. Some of our favorite recipes are quick and delicious roasted carrot buttercarrot cake breakfast bites and roasted carrot salad over wild rice.

While eggs are available year-round, they are an easy protein to add to your spring recipes, especially for less than $2 per dozen. In addition to quality protein, eggs contain omega-3 fatty acids to boost brain health and fight inflammation. The fats in the yolk also enhance the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and raise HDL or “good” cholesterol. Eggs are also rich in choline, which promotes cell function, fat metabolism, DNA synthesis and nerve health.

To get yourself in a spring mood, whip up this asparagus, scallion and red pepper frittata or make egg salad Provencal in lettuce wraps.

Limes are good for a lot more than just margaritas. They peak starting in May, which is later than the other spring produce on our list, but that date can vary depending on where you live. Limes are great low-calorie flavor boosters for whatever spring recipes you’re cooking. On top of that, they are rich in vitamin C, which is great for immunity and healthy skin, as well as citric acid, which can prevent kidney stones.

If you need a place to start, make this grilled honey lime chicken with cowboy caviar or these zesty key lime pie recovery bites.

Fresh mint is the perfect herb to elevate spring dishes. While grocery stores sell mint for about $2 per small pack, you can grow it on your back porch for much cheaper. Mint has such a dynamic flavor, you only need a small amount even if you opt for the store-bought kind.

Beyond its glorious smell, mint’s natural oils help ease irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and indigestion. For creative recipe ideas, try this lemony strawberry oat soak with kiwi mint, this mint chocolate chip smoothie bowl or this simple Vietnamese shrimp salad with mint chili dressing.

With its clean but earthy taste, fresh parsley is another herb that adds zest to various recipes, like those from Mediterranean cuisines, for about $1 per bunch. Each parsley leaf is an aromatic oil with fat-soluble vitamins A and K, as well as antioxidants like vitamin C to support immunity and heart health.

Try this broccoli quinoa tabouli, which incorporates plenty of veggies, or snack on green goddess hummus with crudites and crackers.

Rhubarb is a spring vegetable that costs around $3–4 per pound, and it’s an undercover nutritional powerhouse. Thanks to high vitamin K and calcium levels, rhubarb contributes to bone and heart health. Its high fiber content also aids digestion.

Ironically, rhubarb is treated more like a fruit than a vegetable. While rhubarb is naturally sour due to a high content of malic acid and oxalic acid, it is traditionally eaten in desserts, jams or even as an oatmeal topping.

When strawberries are out of season, they can stretch the bank, but in the spring, you can find them for around $2.50 per pound. They’re low in calories and sugar compared to other fruits and get their color from flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants. They’re also 91% water to support hydration and rich in potassium and magnesium to help keep blood pressure in check.

Add strawberries to desserts, smoothies, salads or just enjoy them out of the carton. For more creative ways to incorporate strawberries, try our oatmeal strawberry cookie piestrawberry chia jam and cashew butter toast or strawberry salad with yuzu strawberry vinaigrette.

 

5 Signs You’re Eating Too Little For Weight Loss

If you’re trying to lose weight, it seems to make sense to cut as many calories from your diet as possible. Unfortunately, it’s possible to eat too little, which not only makes it harder for you to achieve a healthy weight, but it can also cause other health problems. In other words, eating below your needs can backfire big time.

Everyone has a set amount of calories, or energy, they need to simply be alive. Consistently eating less than this can cause your metabolism to slow down and your body to begin preserving what it can to survive. Hunger and feeling full aren’t the only indicators of whether you’re fueling your body appropriately. Indeed, short and long-term dietary restrictions on weight and the traditional weight-loss methods of calorie cutting and deprivation may actually be a hindrance to many health goals.

Beyond calories, I’ve had countless clients come to me after trying fad weight loss diets, none of which “worked” in that any weight lost was regained once they stopped the diet. Diet culture, in general, does a good job of making people feel like failures if they don’t have long-lasting success from a diet when it’s the diet that fails us. There is little to no research showing any fad diet results in sustained long-term weight loss. This is the first thing I explain to clients so they don’t feel defeated or ashamed because they did nothing wrong.

Here are some common signs you’re eating too little to support your body. When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to consult a registered dietitian or health care professional.

1 YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT FOOD ALL THE TIME

Consistently not eating enough food often results in a preoccupation with food and persistent thoughts about food and your next meal or snack. This could manifest in behaviors like perusing restaurant menus online, obsessing over food social media accounts or watching cooking shows incessantly. The association of dietary deprivation and food preoccupation was first discovered by Ancel Keys in his landmark Minnesota Starvation Experiment during World War II. Many of the participants in the study admitted to obsessively collecting recipes and recipe books, and as the study went on, food became one of the only things they thought about. While this is an extreme example, the chronic dieting and food deprivation so prevalent in today’s culture can absolutely have a similar effect.

2 YOU’RE TIRED AND CRANKY

Hanger” is one of my favorite terms for feeling so hungry, you are borderline angry. I’m sure this is relatable to many people, and there is some science to explain it. When you go long periods without eating, blood sugar tends to drop. If you don’t eat something to raise blood sugar, and it remains low, your ability to concentrate, be patient with others and mentally focus diminishes. Enter crankiness, which can easily be reversed by eating something. Tiredness and fatigue also go hand in hand with not eating enough, because you’re simply not providing the body with enough energy. These cues are often our body’s way of innately telling us what we really need.

3 YOU CAN’T SLEEP

There is nothing worse than feeling tired but being unable to sleep. This is another common result of dietary deprivation, with research roots dating back to the starvation experiment mentioned above. More recent research from eating disorders and sleep to malnourished infants and sleep further emphasizes the profound effect diet may have on our sleep cycles. What’s more, it has been consistently found that diet restoration and maintaining adequate energy intake may also restore normal sleep-wake patterns.

4 YOU’RE CONSTIPATED

When your body is consistently not getting enough calories to meet your needs, the digestive tract may move food through your system more slowly to preserve energy. As a result, this can cause constipation. Similarly, not eating enough fiber — which is common when you restrict calories below your needs — can cause constipation.

5 YOUR WEIGHT PLATEAUS OR INCREASES

When the scale won’t budge or if you start to gain weight while on a diet, the answer is not to eat even less. Instead of providing the body with less energy, perpetuating the metabolic response that fights against weight loss, the solution is often to eat more.

Start by adding a snack or two between meals and make sure to include all of the macronutrients — proteinfat and carbs. Once you’re fueling the body correctly, your weight ends up where it should be.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Chronically undereating won’t help you lose weight, and can often yield the opposite effect as well as lead to nutritional deficiencies. In my experience as a dietitian, having a targeted number on the scale isn’t the best way to achieve weight loss or overall health.

Too often weight-loss goals stem from the desire to look like the extremely narrow version of what society deems as an ideal or acceptable body. In this day and age, we are slowly but surely recognizing the uniqueness of every body and that we are not all supposed to look the same.

What’s more, we know now weight alone is not a reliable indicator of health. With that being said, I’ve had much success reframing clients’ goals around health-promoting behavior changes. This could be eating more vegetablescooking more at homegoing for daily walksprioritizing sleep, etc.

Instead of weighing yourself to measure progress, try using non-scale goals like reaching for 2–3 servings of vegetables per day or checking in with how you feel — are you more energized and able to play with your children or keep up in that tough workout class? Focusing on this type of progress is much more positive, long-lasting and health-promoting.

Is Boutique Fitness Right for Me?

If you’re ready for results it’s time to ditch the health club…

There was a time when we got all the exercise we require from our daily activities. But as hunting and gathering lead to farming and eventually the industrialized world we live in today the need for human “labor” has been nearly eradicated. Now that we work desk jobs, eat our meals from the hot bar at Whole Foods, and enjoy a generally sedentary lifestyle we are required to reintroduce this missing physical activity. For some reason, the question of how to add physical activity, or work, back into our lives is one that has proven to be puzzling, controversial, and difficult terrain to navigate.

 

In response to the demands of the market the fitness industry has grown tremendously, particularly in North America where an estimated $28 billion was spent in 2015. Much of this industry is dominated by health clubs and large gym franchises that offer a sampling of strength equipment, cardio machines, TV’s, massage chairs and minimal staffing. Granted  how many staff members do you need when your members don’t actually attend the club? In a study done by students at UC Berkeley found 67% of gym memberships are never used in the population they surveyed.

 

“If you are not going to the gym, you are actually the gym’s best customer.” -Stacey Vanek Smith, NPR

 

The savvy marketers at big box gyms know how to target their marketing towards individuals who won’t actually come to the facility. As humans we often get a rush of excitement by a new fitness undertaking. “This is it, the time I actually change, no looking back,” you say. The challenge is that the health club has made zero commitment to you. They don’t care if you show up or not. Luckily there is someone out there who does.

 

Boutique fitness is the alternative to the traditional health club model. Boutique gyms offer specialized classes based on the expertise of the owners, teachers, or coaches. CrossFit boxes, Barre studios, Bikram yoga, parkour facilities, spin classes  are all great examples of the boutique fitness model.

 

These communities succeed when the all parts are working together; the owner, staff, and clientele all succeed when they each meet their goals. This synergistic effect leads to faster results and more satisfaction from all parties. As a client you have a team of coaches and fellow members who are all rooting for you, teaching you, and most importantly holding you accountable. Becoming fit doesn’t have to be a chore, a challenge, or a pain point. In fact, it can even be fun 😉

 

Boutique gyms have been seen rapid growth in the past decade as clients recognize that when it comes to fitness, not all gyms are created equal. Some of the most common excuses sound like:

  • “I have a hard time sticking to a routine”
  • “I’m just too busy to exercise”
  • “I get bored with going to the gym, it always feels like work”
  • “I don’t know how to lift weights/choose a routine/eat the right food”

 

These are great excuses, but since you’re ready to make a change it’s time to ditch the excuses and focus on RESULTS. By implementing a system that counters your excuses you’ll be left with the only option, the results that you want to achieve.

 

If you struggle with sticking to a routine you will benefit from the coaches, friends, and community members that you’ll meet at each class. A group of people that will ask you about your day, learn about your goals and life, and most importantly encourage you to show up consistently to your workouts.

 

If you claim to be too busy then you should sign up for classes ahead of time. The wide variety of classes that are available each day at time frames that are consistent with your schedule make it easy to squeeze in an hour long workout.

 

If boredom is your challenge then a workout that changes every day is exactly what you need. Not only that but the different coaching styles and friends you’ll make at different times of the day make each class a totally unique experience.

 

If information is the enemy then relax, because that’s already been taken care of for you. Your coach has put a lot of thought into a training program that will improve your fitness and will be by your side to instruct you on form, breathing, and what weights to use. Keep an eye out for group nutrition challenges to boot!

 

To get the results you want sometimes you need to try a new approach. If that trip to the gym feels more daunting than Frodo walking the ring to Mordor then it’s time to see what a boutique gym has in store for you!

The Power of Choice

Most of us have an area in our life we wish we were performing better in. That part of us that doesn’t quite fit into our own skin. It could be a touchy subject that our spouse and friends know to steer clear of, the elephant in the room. It could be the promotion you still haven’t received, the credit card you haven’t paid off, or the weight you were supposed to lose by the beginning of  summer… in 2012.

 

And because you’re wearing this very uncomfortable skin that’s not quite your size I am happy to tell you that you are exactly where you chose to be today.

 

I can already hear the objections rising up so let me explain why.

 

You see I totally understand your story. I understand because it’s yours, mine, and everyone else’s. Sometimes having a new baby, a busy time at work, or the worst timing for a medical emergency/broken down car/economic depression can happen. There are a million and one events in life that can derail us. They are not always fair and can seem impossible to overcome when they show up knocking at our door.

 

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths.”

-Arnold Schwarzenegger

 

At that point we do an admirable thing. We give up on our dream. We set it aside to go fix the problem. We change our identity and become the superhero who knows exactly how to work overtime and take care of a sick parent. We do it because we want to make sure the story has a happy ending. We do it out of love.

 

And life goes on.

 

And sometimes the situation gets better. And sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, the situation that called for a superhero 6 months ago no longer needs a hero to save it. But there you stand in cape and tights committed to action. Except now it’s time to go home. Time to write a new story.

 

Where you stand today is a result of many choices. Some of your hero moments were the big decisions that shaped your trajectory. Like I said, I’m proud of you for doing that. But now it’s time to get back on the path. Your path. The one you stopped telling yourself that you wanted because it hurt too bad to think that it may never come true.

 

You might think it’s too late (it’s not).

 

You might want to try, but feel that you strayed too far (you haven’t).

 

You have to remember you have the power of choice. And it’s a good thing that you do. It gives you the power to turn your greatest adversity into your greatest strength. You always have the option to shy away or to stand and fight.

 

It’s time for a new story. You’re the hero and you’re at the turning point in the movie of your life. So what are you going to do next?You’ve endured hardship, learned tough lessons, and fallen time and time again. Wouldn’t this be a great time for everything to turn around?

 

Maybe you can recruit someone to help you get there, a long lost friend or a wise old mentor. Maybe you need to crank up “Eye of the Tiger” and experience the training it will take to achieve your success.

 

The time to act is now. Don’t slip back into your old story. You are the hero. The power of choice brought you here. Your choice decides what happens next.

 

So what are you going to do?

 

[GYM OWNER:] Add a call to action here, like: “Schedule your Free Consult here” with a link.

Energy Systems Exploration

As a living, breathing, blog reading individual you’ve probably learned the basics around how food provides the body with energy. There are actually several different ways that this can occur and they depend on the activity being performed. Depending on our sport or activity, nutrition, genetics, and level of training will each play a role which energy system is primarily utilized. As you can see in the pictures above these athletes have trained to optimize a certain energy system in their body to improve performance at their respective sport. Regardless of which energy system is predominantly used all energy is stored in the form of ATP.

Adenosine Triphosphate or “ATP” is the energy currency of the body. Each of the energy systems in the body have their own way of producing ATP to power our daily activities. There are pro’s and con’s to each energy system but ultimately having a better understanding of how our body uses energy can help us make informed decisions on diet and exercise. Let’s learn about each energy system…

Alactic System aka the Creatine Phosphate System
Lactic Acid System aka Glycolytic
Aerobic System aka Fatty Acid Metabolism

“No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.” —Tony Robbins

Alactic System

(aka the Creatine Phosphate System)
What is it: The alactic system utilizes creatine phosphate (CP) as an energy source. It fuels high intensity efforts. Creatine is able to donate its phosphate molecules to the the Adenosine Diphosphate (ADP) molecule allowing it to return to ATP, with potential energy stored in its chemical bonds. Creatine comes from the food that we eat with the highest levels in red meat, pork, poultry, and fish. It can also be supplemented for vegetarians and vegans.

Time domains: This energy system is exhausted in 8-12 seconds for most individuals and you will fatigue when your CP and ATP stores have depleted. It is great for quick bursts of energy.

Efficiency:It requires 30 seconds to 2 minutes to replenish energy stores.

By products: Heat released from the breaking of chemical bonds.

Examples of activity: You may see this energy system in action through the short powerful bursts seen in weightlifters, powerlifters, pitchers, and shot putters.
What training looks like: Training the CP system means using short time domains with long rest periods in between. In the gym this means keeping rep ranges to sets of 6 or fewer reps.

Lactic Acid System

(aka Glycolytic system)
What is it: The lactic acid system utilizes glycogen (glucose stored in the muscles and liver) as a fuel source. It is for longer lasting high intensity activities. Our body is able to store about 500 total grams of glycogen in the muscle and liver tissue which provides around 2,000 calories worth of energy. Running out of this fuel source is commonly referred to as “bonking.” Some athletes consume carbohydrate foods, drinks, and supplements during training and competition to prevent running out of this valuable fuel source.

Time domains: It is the primary fuel source for activities lasting from 30 seconds to about 3 minutes. You know you have fatigued this energy system when hydrogen ion accumulation causes a burning sensation in the muscles.

Efficiency: The lactic acid system is very efficient at providing fuel but fatigues quickly. Due to the long recovery time it is favorable to alternate levels of intensity between glycolytic and aerobic dependence to sustain high output.

By products: The byproduct of this system is pyruvate. Which must be cleared from the blood to continue to utilize this energy system. This can take 30-60 minutes.
Examples of activity: This energy system would rule during a 400 or 800 meter sprint, a hockey lines time on the ice, or most CrossFit workouts. It is seen in mixed use with the aerobic system during longer workouts or soccer and basketball games where the players alternate between a slower jog pace with periods of intense sprinting and jumping.

What training looks like: To train this energy system you can utilize interval style training. Intense bursts of energy followed by a recovery period that allows you to stay at a threshold of high output. These athletes tend to have increased muscle mass and ideally lower body fat percentage.

Aerobic System

(aka Fatty Acid Metabolism aka Krebs Cycle aka Citric Acid Cycle…)
What is it: This is the creation of energy from fat, glycogen or protein in the presence of oxygen used to power low and moderate intensity activities. The mitochondria present in muscle cells takes the available fuel source through a variety of reactions to produce ATP. Since fat molecules packs 9 calories per gram they tend to be the main choice for this energy system. Even the leanest individuals carry enough body fat to fuel many days worth of activity.
Time domains: Any activity lasting more than 3 minutes in duration.

Efficiency: This system produces energy much more slowly than the others. The good news is it can utilize an unlimited fuel supply of fat.

By products: The aerobic system only produces water and carbon dioxide when generating ATP.

Examples of activity: This energy system is your predominant fuel source for jogging, cycling, swimming long distances, and most of your daily activities.

What training looks like: Athletes who have become efficient at using fat as a fuel source are able to convert the energy from fat more quickly, allowing them to sustain higher levels of work capacity for activities with long durations. These athletes are usually easy to spot as they have exceptional muscle definition and extremely low body fat.

As you can see from the graph, our average work capacity is dictated by the length of time we are performing an activity.By training in all three energy systems we can become more efficient in all areas, thus increasing our work capacity across the board.Individuals who only try to utilize cardio or lifting heavy weights to improve work capacity will fall short of their well rounded counterparts. If you’re an individual who wants to improve general health it is beneficial to train each of the energy systems.

If you’re ready to increase you work capacity and become more fit give us a call today and we’ll help you get started!

Maximize Your Macros:

A Consumer’s guide to Fat, Carbs, and Protein…

Diet and nutrition are a highly individual journey and no one answer is true or right for everyone. The simple fact of the matter is that when it comes down to it, you have to figure out what works best for you. However there are some overarching philosophy that can channel your approach to healthy eating. When you figure out a style and frequency in your relationship with food that works well you will notice improvements in energy levels, focus, mood, and of course physical performance.

Fats

Paleo, Ketogenic, and Atkins diet have helped change many of the negative perceptions of fat in the diet. As Americans a far bigger threat to our health is a diet that contain high sugar and processed foods.Fats are not only not bad for you but are an essential source of fuel and micronutrients that make us healthy. It’s important to choose the right types and amounts of fats in your diet that let you operate at your best.

The chemical structure of a fat or fatty acid determines what role it will play in our bodies. Based on this structure we are able to classify fats in certain classes that share similar characteristics.
Fats can be divided into saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats.

Saturated fats are found in red meat and coconuts and up until recently have gotten a bad rap as culprits of heart disease. Monounsaturated fats are found in plant foods like nuts, avocado, and olive oil. Polyunsaturated fats include Omega-3’s and Omega-6’s which can be found in fatty fish, flax seeds, and walnuts and are associated with a variety of health benefits.

Fats are essential for energy requirements, hormone production, and make up the wall of every cell in your body. They are also directly related to our immune system and having the right ratio of fats is very important for a healthy inflammation response.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are found across a wide variety of foods and depending on the structure of the molecule our body will respond to eating carbs in very different ways. Carbohydrates have a direct relationship with the glucose levels or blood sugar in our bodies. When our blood glucose levels become elevated our body releases a hormone called insulin to store this extra energy for later when we might have a greater need for it. This glucose is stored in the muscle and liver in long chains known as glycogen or the glucose can be stored in adipose tissue to be utilized later (aka fat storage).

Your goal should be to optimize the amount of carbs that are being stored as glycogen and minimizing excess carbs that would contribute to fat stores. Selecting the right types of foods like vegetables are beneficial because they contain fiber, vitamins, minerals and have a low glycemic index. The glycemic index measures how much a food increases our bodies glucose after consumption. High GI foods include white bread, white rice, and cereals. These foods can be very bad for your waistline, because if your body is not prepared to receive fuel and store it as glycogen they will immediately be stored as fat.
Our bodies can become insulin resistant and requires higher and higher amounts of insulin to store the glucose. Resistance training however, can increase our insulin sensitivity. That means that our cells are highly responsive to storing glucose when insulin is present. Focus on consuming low glycemic carbohydrates that provide key nutrients and avoid high sugar or refined ingredients.

Protein

Protein is found in and comprises most of the cells in our body. It is found in a variety of animal and plant sources. Protein is important because it contains amino acids, tiny molecules that are the building blocks of muscle and also used for the synthesis of hormones and neurotransmitters. Some of these amino acids are considered essential meaning they must be provided from a dietary source. Without these essential amino acids we will not be able to repair our tissues and certain vital processes will cease to happen.

Since protein helps us recover from and perform optimally during our workouts it is important to consume after a workout for muscle repair. Real food sources of protein include beef, chicken, eggs, and fish. Try to include these foods as staples in your diet. These foods have amino acid content that is similar to what our human body requires for repair. This is also known as the biological value of the protein. Vegetable sources of protein have a lower biological value and may lack one of the essential amino acids needed by humans. These foods must be strategically combined by vegans or vegetarians so they consume all the amino acids needed for tissue repair. As a vegan athlete it can be challenging to meet your needs without supplementation and can be difficult to get a full spectrum of key micronutrients.

Try to consume 1.0 to 1.5 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight. For a 200 pound man (90 kg) that means 90 grams to 135 grams of protein per day. This will provide enough amino acids for your bodies daily needs. Unfortunately eating more protein doesn’t mean it automatically turns into muscle. Unused protein will be broken down and utilized as a fuel source by the body.

Hopefully knowing a little bit more about each of the macronutrients and how they act in your body will help you to make informed decisions. If you have more questions around a healthy diet give us a call today!

Strength Training for Injury Prevention

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” -Benjamin Franklin

Life is unpredictable and sometimes in our sports, exercise, and daily life we come out of these unpredictable situations a little bit worse for the wear…

Some folks try to prevent these situations from happening through avoidance, but if you want to have a high quality of life I highly recommend you adopt a strength training program as your physical insurance program. This is certainly a much more proactive approach to mitigating physical injury than hoping for the best.

“If you train hard, you’ll not only be hard, you’ll be hard to beat.” -Herschel Walker

Or if you are an athlete like Robert Griffin III (pictured above) you may want to consider the risk factors of your sport. Robert, aka RG3, came into the NFL and was an instant phenom and fan favorite for his dazzling display of athleticism that was so uncommon in quarterbacks. His jukes, spins, and leaps were no match for the demands professional football places on an athlete and RG3 has spent most of what was once a promising career watching from the sideline, injured.

You see, despite his athleticism, RG3 has not trained in a way that reinforced a fundamental movement pattern. As we look at the series of pictures highlighting the windup before an explosive jump, We see a valgus knee fault where his knees cave in creating a very compromised position for the joints of his lower extremities. Even though not all injuries are preventable, by focusing more on proper technique and exercises that stabilized the knee joint rather than increasing strength and speed RG3 may have avoided some major injuries in his career.

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” -Beverly Sills

So what should a workout look like?
Exercise should replicate natural human movement patterns. The ones we encounter on a day to day basis. Squat, lunge, hinge, push, pull, rotate and walk. Most exercises fall into at least one and sometimes several of these movement patterns. By addressing all of them in our training we not only improve our functional strength but also prepare our bodies for anything life could throw at them.

In one study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine there was an 88% overall reduction in ACL injury rate in an intervention group of soccer players who participated in an injury prevention program. The right knowledge and a little consistency can go a long way when it comes down to keeping your body healthy.

Is your current training program addressing mobility, recovery, full range of motion, and then total body strength?

If you have suffered from injuries in the past or have concerns with your mobility it is important to address those with your trainer or coach. They will be able to help you by assessing the area of concern and designing a program to help you improve function with goals and checkpoints along the way. It is not always fun, easy, or sexy to do but giving attention to our problem areas will be easier to do the sooner you start.

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ”Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” -Muhammad Ali

Don’t be the dad who throws out his back building sand castles at the beach. Talk to one of our coaches and we’ll help you tackle your challenge areas today!

5 Reasons to get STRONG

Fitness trends come and go and most fall to the wayside for good reason.

Most programs fail to produce consistent results. It’s a wonder why so many folks stray away from what is tried and true when it comes to exercise programs?

“The rule is: the basics are the basic, and you can’t beat the basics.” -Charles Poliquin

Despite what your goals may be, every individual can benefit from physical resistance training. Not only that, but the health benefits extend far beyond your short term fitness goals. Regardless of why you train, let’s take a look at some of the reasons you should incorporate strength training into your fitness regimen.

1. Training for strength produces results.

Whatever your goals, muscle will help you get there. Some companies in the fitness industry has made a fortune around buzzwords like “tone”, “lift”, and “sculpt.” The problem is there’s no way to measure those loose terms. If you want to change your body composition there is only the ability to gain or lose muscle while simultaneously gaining or losing fat. If you are looking for the most efficient way to do make a change then strength training is your best option.

Strength training, or physical resistance training, can be defined as a type of physical exercise specializing in the use of resistance to induce muscular contraction which builds the strength, anaerobic endurance, and size of skeletal muscles. When you gain muscle you increase your bodies basal metabolism (the amount of calories you burn each day before factoring in physical activity). It’s kind of like putting a bigger engine in a car. The car is capable of moving faster or pulling a heavier load (more muscle), but it also uses more fuel (fat) whether it’s cruising down the freeway or idling in the driveway. Strength training helps us “tone” through this muscle gain/fat loss trade.

2. “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” -Peter Drucker

Training for strength provides a clear path for success. You can set training goals that are specific, measurable, and produce desired outcomes. A good coach will help you design a plan towards these goals with checkpoints along the way. Your strength training program is a road map to success with clear directions. Sets, reps, and weights lifted safely through the full range of motion are the signals that you’re on track. Many people find that a more detailed plan helps them stay motivated as they experience progress.

3. Age gracefully with more muscle mass.

As we get older strength training is one of the most important things we can do for our health. Physical independence is a key factor in a great quality of life.

A comprehensive study of strength training has been proven to:

  • Improve motor function
  • Lower resting heart rate
  • Increase stamina
  • Prevent sarcopenia (age related muscle loss)
  • Improve bone mineral density
  • Prevent and help rehab injuries

Functional strength training will be an asset in daily life too. From picking up grandchildren or bags of groceries to climbing stairs with confidence.

4. You’ll experience epic brain gains.

Did you know that lifting weights can strengthen your brain just as much as it does your body?
Dr. Yorgi Mavros from the University of Sydney has found that high‐intensity physical resistance training (PRT) results in significant improvements in cognitive function, muscle strength, and aerobic capacity in older adults with mild cognitive impairment. Adults who followed a resistance training routine in addition to cognitive training performed significantly better than control groups on a series of mental tests. A couple key factors to note:

The participants exercised 2x/ week working to at least 80% of their peak strength.
The benefits lasted one year after the exercise prescription had ended.

What does that mean? According to Yorgi, “The stronger people became, the greater the benefit for their brain.” Let that sink in for a minute. You actually grow your brain by training to become stronger! It makes me wonder if Einstein developed his Theory of Relativity in between heavy sets of back squats…

5. Strong moms have healthy babies.

During pregnancy, the question always arises of what does fitness look like for this stage of life? With so much on the line, it’s important to consult with a doctor before beginning any fitness routine. Luckily, there is a tremendous amount to be gained by incorporating a strength training routine under normal circumstances. Resistance training can help alleviate symptoms and improve health outcomes for the mother and child. According to the Mayo Clinic, women who follow a consistent strength training routine during pregnancy can experience:

  • Reduce backaches, constipation, bloating and swelling
  • Boosted mood and energy levels
  • Better sleep
  • Prevent excess weight gain
  • Maintain levels of muscle strength and endurance
  • Reduced incidence of gestational diabetes

Not only that but women who train during pregnancy report enhanced body image and better psychological well-being!

We would love to help you live a healthy strong life. Schedule a Free Consult to learn more.