Burn More Fat!?

Today we are busting some big fat burning myths!!!

Today¬†we are busting some big fat burning myths!!! For those of you who have trained with me, much of this post will sound familiar. BUT, I am certain that everyone will discover something new this morning ūüôā
So there are a lot of “fat burning” promises out there. From fad diets to new and improved exercise programs to miracle pills. It seems like everyone has the magic Quick Fix¬†that no one has ever thought of before. But I’ll let you in on a little industry secret… NOTHING replaces hard work. Now although there are no magic pills that allow you to sit on your butt and reach you reach you health goals, there are smart ways to use your time in gym. Here are a few highlights from this weeks article talking about do’s and don’ts.
Believe that there is any one thing you can do to loose fat (especially taking a pill)
Take time to educate yourself. Take time to learn about a given intervention such as a diet, exercise program, and how they will interact with your lifestyle and health concerns. You need to incorporate all of these things by creating new habits to see meaningful results.
Just walk on the treadmill. Slow steady state (low to moderate intensity for 1hr) exercise wont burn fat efficiently.
Participate in High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)! This style of exercise will differ for everyone, but in general it will allow you to work for a shorter amount of time with greater fat burning power. Our March Boot Camp is a great example of HIIT.
Rely on the way you feel to gauge the intensity of exercise. Everyone responds to stress (yes exercise is a stress) in different ways.
Purchase a heart rate monitor. Investing in a quality heart rate monitor will show vast returns in your health. These inexpensive devices are imperative to the HIIT principle and will ensure that your workouts are effective, but most importantly, safe!
To learn more about HIIT, fat burning tip, as well as some common myths you can access the original article here.

The Real Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight

Using the secret awesome supplements, fat burners, shakes, and other “scientifically proven” stuff that your trainer/TV doctor said to use. But for some strange reason, you just can’t seem to lose any weight?

Your app says you’re eating 1200 calories a day. The online metabolism calculator says that you’re burning 2000 calories a day. You’re even using the secret awesome supplements, fat burners, shakes, and other “scientifically proven” stuff that your trainer/TV doctor said to use.¬†But for some strange reason, you just can’t seem to lose any weight. How can this possibly be?!?! Well, let me tell you a dirty little secret. Most of that stuff can be summed up in one word. Crap. Because if any of this sounds familiar to you, you‚Äôre not losing body fat because in one way or another, whether you¬†realize¬†it or not, you‚Äôre eating more than you think are even when you think you¬†aren’t.
Calories In
Nutrition tracking is great because it can give you a sense of how many calories you’re eating within a given food, meal, day, etc. However,¬†when it comes to tracking nutrition,¬†the energetic content of food has been completely divorced from the energetic cost of food. Meaning, the tracker won’t take into account how many¬†calories¬†will be burned preparing the food¬†and/or digesting the food. Additionally, your tracker may not always be counting correctly. For instance, I have seen examples on my tracker where the calorie count is identical for 4oz and 8oz portions of the same foods. So even if you use a scale to weigh and meticulously record you food stuffs, you could still end up being way off. In fact,¬†on average¬†people, even after being well educated on how to track their food, will under estimate their intake by 429 calories per day (1).That’s about 3,000 calories per week! That’s not to say tracking calories is not worth your while. Because when you‚Äôre not paying attention to calorie intake, you leave yourself open to¬†all the environmental and cognitive factors¬†that have you eating more and more without even¬†realizing it. For the most part, your brain is to blame for all of this. So,¬†set your brain up for success¬†to decrease the amount you eat.
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Calories Out
You take out your phone at the end of a long day and see that you have walked almost 10.000 steps. You say to yourself, “not a bad day’s work! No need for the gym¬†tonight.” But, of course this is¬†a huge mistake. For starters, everyone should be exercising in some fashion just about everyday. Regardless of age, gender, or health concerns, there are¬†guidelines¬†that you¬†should follow¬†for your exercise routine. The operative word being routine. Not a “when I feel like it” mentality. Secondly, there really is no great way to measure your steps, or for that matter, your calorie output. Even the most¬†expensive¬†and popular brands of trackers routinely¬†under-estimate your steps while over-estimating¬†your calorie expenditure¬†(2).¬†If¬†you truly want to know how many calories you’re using in a day, you will need to be hooked up to some expensive¬†machinery¬†(see¬†picture bellow for details). But you better not plan on using that number forever. Your calorie usage changes on a daily basis for many reasons. And as you lose weight, your body will almost cruelly reduce the number of calories it burns. Because as you become leaner, this ‚Äėleanness‚Äô means your body¬†doesn’t¬†require as many calories to keep you alive.
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Beware The Guru
By now most of you know that I don’t enjoy the works of certain health and fitness “gurus.” Not only that, but I don’t really believe that the works of many¬†supplement companies¬†are quite ethical. With everyone craving instant results, the immoral take advantage of this fact despite knowing there is no way they can deliver. They make fads something to profit off of rather than actually help people and guide them to success in their goals. They try to get you to buy into their way of thinking, so it makes it harder for you to dig yourself out of their profit pit. They use fear mongering to get their way and make your pocketbook lighter. And while it certainly is¬†commendable¬†that you want to do something to make yourself healthier, I¬†would like to share with you some¬†money saving and health enhancing facts.¬†Fat burning supplements¬†won’t help you lose weight but can be dangerous (3). Vitamin supplements and¬†detoxes¬†are a waste of money (4). And cutting fat is¬†just as effective¬†as cutting carbs to lose fat mass (5). Diet soda is actually¬†a good tool¬†to help you lose weight and to that end, there are no negative side effects of consuming artificial sweeteners (6). And the likes of TV doctors and Men’s Health magazine leave much to be desired when it comes to good advice (7,8)
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Instead of focusing on instant gratification, remember that anything worth having is going to take time, hard work, and persistence. Instead of searching for motivation all the time, learn why motivation is unreliable and what you should do instead. Remember that any diet suggesting you remove entire food groups, or slash your calories drastically doesn’t have your best interests in mind. There‚Äôs no long-term play here. Finally, ask yourself “are there any beliefs you hold that you might need to let go in order to attain better results?”
1. Champagne, C. M., Bray, G. A., Kurtz, A. A., Monteiro, J. B. R., Tucker, E., Volaufova, J., & Delany, J. P. (2002). Energy intake and energy expenditure: A controlled study comparing dietitians and non-dietitians. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 102(10), 1428-1432. doi:10.1016/S0002-8223(02)90316-0
2. NELSON, M. B., KAMINSKY, L. A., DICKIN, D. C., & MONTOYE, A. H. K. (2016). Validity of consumer-based physical activity monitors for specific activity types. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 48(8), 1619-1628. doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000000933
3. Dara, L., Hewett, J., & Lim, J. K. (2008). Hydroxycut hepatotoxicity: A case series and review of liver toxicity from herbal weight loss supplements. China: The WJG Press and Baishideng. doi:10.3748/wjg.14.6999
4. Guallar, E., Stranges, S., Mulrow, C., Appel, L. J., & Miller, 3., Edgar R. (2013). Enough is enough: Stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements. Annals of Internal Medicine, 159(12), 850.
5. Hall, K. D., Bemis, T., Brychta, R., Chen, K. Y., Courville, A., Crayner, E. J., . . . Yannai, L. (2015). Calorie for calorie, dietary fat restriction results in more body fat loss than carbohydrate restriction in people with obesity. Cell Metabolism, 22(3), 427. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2015.07.021
6.¬†Peters, J. C., Wyatt, H. R., Foster, G. D., Pan, Z., Wojtanowski, A. C., Vander Veur, S. S., . . . Hill, J. O. (2014). The effects of water and non‚Äźnutritive sweetened beverages on weight loss during a 12‚Äźweek weight loss treatment program. Obesity, 22(6), 1415-1421. doi:10.1002/oby.20737
7. Korownyk, C., Kolber, M. R., McCormack, J., Lam, V., Overbo, K., Cotton, C.. . Allan, G. M. (2014). Televised medical talk shows‚Äďwhat they recommend and the evidence to support their recommendations: A prospective observational study. BMJ (Clinical Research Ed.), 349(dec17¬†11), g7346-g7346. doi:10.1136/bmj.g7346
8.¬†Cook, T. M., Russell, J. M., & Barker, M. E. (2014). Dietary advice for muscularity, leanness and weight control in men’s health magazine: A content analysis. BMC Public Health, 14(1), 1062-1062. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-1062

Getting Grilled

“5 reasons why grilling will kill you”… What?

Some time back¬†I stumbled upon a blog condemning the grill saying something along the lines of “5 reasons why grilling will kill you”. Naturally my mind went to using too much lighter fluid causing an explosion so I clicked the link to see what fun ways I could hurt myself this weekend. However, to my dismay the article was about how grilling can cause cancer, and that anyone who uses a grill is at harm and would be better off throwing out their cooking device.
Well I can say that as a lifelong lover of anything bacon, steak, and BBQ related I quickly made it my mission to find out if I should consult an oncologist, or if Memorial Day weekend plans were safe (grilling, home made beer, and Frisbee btw). Well I can safely say that I will be spending my afternoon savoring the sweet sweet smell of venison and Mae farm pork sausage.
I found most of the information on the subject in peer reviewed literature, but today’s post mostly comes from the fine folks at Precision Nutrition. Here is what you need to know:
– Grilling meat does produce a couple of chemicals that may increase risk of cancer (HCA & PAH
– Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) form when meat is overcooked or charbroiled
-Four factors influence HCA formation: 1. Type of food 2. How it’s cooked 3. Temperature 4. How long it’s cooked
–¬†Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) form when meat is charred or blackened, or when fat from the meat drips onto the hot surface of the grill.
–¬†PAH creation is influenced by: 1.¬†Temperature of cooking 2.¬†How long food is cooked 3.¬†Type of fuel used in heating 4.¬†Distance from heat source 5.¬†Fat content of the food
–¬†How to make grilling healthier:¬†
1. Use herbs and spices
2. Acid-based marinades Beer marinades work, too!!!
3. Don’t overcook HCAs and PAHs depend on temperature plus time.
4. Choose meat wisely. Highly-processed meats have a much stronger link to cancer than less-processed meats.
5. Include lots of fruits and veggies
6. Strategize while cooking i.e. Cut your meat into smaller pieces, Flip meat frequently, Cook meat on medium to medium-high heat, Cover the grill with foil.
7. And my FAVORITE drinking a beer with your grilled meat can significantly lower the mutagenic activity of the HCAs that formed.
The author of the PN article, Brian St. Pierre, sums things up extremely well when he says “Keep the risks in perspective. Overall, HCAs and PAHs make a minor contribution to your cancer risk. Being sedentary, having excess body fat, and eating a diet rich in highly processed foods are much greater risk factors. If you have some slow-cooked, pit-roasted ribs in your life once in a while, you‚Äôll probably survive. (And likely be happier overall. Don‚Äôt be afraid of your food.)” Have a fun and safe holiday weekend, and say a prayer (or take a moment of silence) in¬†remembrance¬†of¬†those who have fallen for our nation.

The Best Signs Of Progress Don’t Include Your Weight!

Physical and mental signs of improvement that make the scale irrelevant!

I can get anyone to lose 5 pounds with one simple trick. I put them in a steam room for an hour and don’t allow them to drink anything! But of course, for most people, that’s not ¬†the point of losing weight. This simple fact begs the question, if losing water weight isn’t the end goal, then does what the scale says even matter? Our weight¬†fluctuates¬†to a dramatic¬†degree throughout the day based on all sorts of things. Are you hydrated? ¬†Did you use the bathroom recently? Have you eaten yet? Are you sick? Are you stressed? Even your sleep can play a roll in weight¬†fluctuation. That’s why I want to talk about the physical and mental signs of improvement that make the scale¬†irrelevant!¬†
First Things First
For the most part, people want to see two things happen. They want to see themselves lose fat, and gain muscle. But there are so many more benefits to exercise than that. So I encourage everyone to take a few minutes to write down exactly what their goals are. Once you have a goal/goals in mind, you can start to take action and monitor the outcomes of your efforts. I don’t want to get too side-tracked here, so¬†here are some easy steps to start taking action today.
Write down one outcome you want. Don’t over-think it. Just name the desired outcome you want most right now.
Write down some of the skills you think you’ll need to get that outcome. If you’re just starting out, focus on foundation skills. What are the basics that make everything else possible? (For instance, if you want to manage your time, you need to learn to use a calendar.)
Related to each skill, write down a behavior or two you can do today that’ll help build those skills. This can be really easy, like walking through the gym doors or even packing your gym bag for tomorrow morning.
Do the behavior today, and tomorrow, and so on. And, keep in mind, if you don’t follow through on a given day, don’t let it derail you. Each day is a clean slate.
By The Numbers
Some of the best physical markers of success are easy to see, while others take some time and equipment to measure. So for each marker, I will give you the scientific way to go about reaching it, and the DIY version.
Body Composition РThis is perhaps the most revealing assessment (1). Your body composition is the ration of fat mass to lean mass (muscle, bone, water, etc.). There are loads of ways to measure this marker from the gold standard Bod Pod and X-rays, to skin fold measures, to the less accurate bio-electrical impermanence (BIA). For all intents and purposes, the BIA does a good enough job for most people and is a cheep option via a smart scale or hand held device. Seeing your body fat percentage go down and muscle mass go up is always a great feeling!
Waist Line¬†– Using a¬†hip to waist ratio¬†is an easy way to self¬†assess your overall health¬†(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/215214492). Seeing your waist line go down is an even easier way to see improvement because your clothes will begin to fit better! It’s hard not to take notice of improvement when you’re having to buy smaller pant sizes after all.
Labs¬†– It will certainly¬†make your doctor happy¬†to see¬†lower blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugar. These measurements can assess risk for chronic illnesses like heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer. For the most part, these need to be measured at your doctor’s office, but most pharmacies have free equipment for measuring blood pressure (3).
Heart Rate РThis is a twofer because both your resting heart rate and working heart rate are important health markers. Watching your resting heart rate decrease over time means that you are becoming more cardio-vascularly fit (4). Having your heart rate stay stable while exercising means that your body is accustomed to doing work, which is a great sign! Testing this is simple. You can count how many times your heart beats in a minute by taking your pulse, or simply buy a heart rate monitor.
Better, Faster, Stronger РOne of the most gratifying indicators of improvement is seeing your body change. You are able to see your muscles in the mirror and witness your strength increase. It always feels good to add an extra weight plate to your barbell!
State of Mind
Signs of progress also happen in the form of mental health. How you feel throughout the day and during a workout can be great indicators of improvement. So take mental note or keep a journal to document your improvement in these indicators of success.
Exercise Excitement¬†– Okay, so not everyone enjoys exercising. In fact, most people loath going to the gym. But everyone can agree that we feel better after a workout. That’s why dreading going to the gym less and making exercise a part of your identity over time is a great indicator of improvement.
Energizer¬†– While everyone has an off day here or there, having an off week or month can be downright frustrating. That’s why keeping note of your day-to-day energy & stress levels is an exhilarating way to experience positive changes from your efforts.
Zzzzzzz РYour sleep can be influenced by stress, aging, hormonal changes, being a new parent, getting too much light late at night, jet lag, and so on. But nutrition and exercise can play a role as well. A regular sleep schedule can be a great way to monitor your improvement as well as improve your performance at the gym and in life (5)!
Mood РStability and improvement in your mood are also fun ways to mark your improvement. Feeling confident, clearer-headed, happier and more positive, motivated, and more open to trying new things can be subtle but very meaningful markers of improvement.
1. Gale, C. R., Martyn, C. N., Cooper, C., & Sayer, A. A. (2007;2006;). Grip strength, body composition, and mortality. International Journal of Epidemiology, 36(1), 228-235. doi:10.1093/ije/dyl224
2.¬†Czernichow, S., Kengne, A. ‚Äź., Stamatakis, E., Hamer, M., & Batty, G. D. (2011). Body mass index, waist circumference and waist‚Äďhip ratio: Which is the better discriminator of cardiovascular disease mortality risk? evidence from an individual‚Äźparticipant meta‚Äźanalysis of 82‚ÄÉ864 participants from nine cohort studies. Obesity Reviews, 12(9), 680-687. doi:10.1111/j.1467-789X.2011.00879.x
3. Nagaya, T., Yoshida, H., Takahashi, H., & Kawai, M. (2010). Resting heart rate and blood pressure, independent of each other, proportionally raise the risk for type-2 diabetes mellitus. International Journal of Epidemiology, 39(1), 215-222. doi:10.1093/ije/dyp229
4. Fox, K., Borer, J. S., Camm, A. J., Danchin, N., Ferrari, R., Lopez Sendon, J. L., . . . Heart Rate Working Group. (2007). Resting heart rate in cardiovascular disease. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 50(9), 823-830. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2007.04.079
5. JACKOWSKA, M., DOCKRAY, S., ENDRIGHI, R., HENDRICKX, H., & STEPTOE, A. (2012). Sleep problems and heart rate variability over the working day. Journal of Sleep Research, 21(4), 434-440. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2869.2012.00996.x

Nutrition Simplified

I want to give you all an idea of what the foundation of a good nutrition plan looks like.

Some things never go out of fashion: blue jeans, Corvettes, and Pokemon. But for some reason, people try to make nutrition out to be a never-ending crap storm of “must do’s/don’ts.”Don’t eat fat, don’t eat carbs, salt will kill you, sugar will bring¬†Cthulhu¬†from the watery depths to rule the world.” Whatever happened to the notion that simple is better? Why bother to eat the expensive organic, GMO free, local foods that cost an arm and a leg when you’re trying to build them up and lose the belly instead? Well, today I want to give you all an idea of what the foundation of a good nutrition plan looks like. Even if it isn’t the scariest scenario or the sexiest diet around.
It’s No Secret
Since I‚Äôm not a¬†dietitian, I don‚Äôt provide specific meal plans. That being said, by now, everyone by knows that what you eat effects not only your overall health, but also your training results. This is why simple¬†guidelines¬†are the best advice any¬†coach or trainer can legally give. On top of that, anyone who says¬†there is an ‚Äúabsolute‚Ä̬†nutrition¬†recommendation is suggesting that his or her plan is the ‚Äúonly way of doing things.‚ÄĚ Which, of course, is craziness and is probably worth dismissing.¬†The only ‚Äúabsolute‚ÄĚ worth noting is that you need to be in a consistent calorie deficit in order to drop body fat, plain and simple. So, don’t get all bent out of shape when someone says you shouldn’t eat a specific food because of some¬†ingredient or chemical it has.
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Becoming Simplified
Here is a beautiful way to sum it all up in 3 easy steps.
1. Eat mostly meals consisting of fruits and vegetables and  high-quality meats, eggs, and fish (or protein substitutes, for vegetarians and vegans).
2. Limit your intake of refined foods, simple sugars, hydrogenated oil, and alcohol.
3. And don’t overeat.
Is your mind blown?!?!?! Yes, these are the same¬†recommendations¬†that have been given¬†to us for years. And yet, how many of us follow them? What’s the point of starting a new diet or taking a fist-full of supplements if you¬†haven’t¬†tried to lay a solid¬†foundation? You should¬†start by focusing on the quality of the foods you eat (emphasizing fruits, vegetables, high-quality proteins). You‚Äôll likely end up taking in fewer calories without even counting them. Before we move on to the next section, we are going to get into the three soft “don’ts.”
Don’t crash diet. When you create massive caloric deficits, there can be issues with metabolic slowdown. But even worse is the hormonal response that causes appetite to run amok, and you end up gaining back all the weight you lost, and then some.
Don’t drink a doughnut. I don’t mean this¬†literally, but what I’m trying to say is limit the calories you drink. This, of course, means cutting back on the booze, sodas, and the ever-so-ridiculous¬†trend of¬†putting fat in your coffee.
Avoid added sugar, fat and salt. The most important word here is ADDED. Cut back on the extras, and your waist line will show some love.
Instead of Subtracting, Add
When you focus on bringing the good stuff in, the bad stuff finds its own way out. For the most part, this statement is true. So here are a few things that you should consider adding:
1. A regular meal pattern –¬†Three decent sized meals each day will decrease the need for¬†preparation¬†and keep you feeling full.
2. The grocery store –¬†Eating out should be a rare treat. This is because each meal you don’t make yourself is almost¬†guaranteed¬†to be a bucket full of unneeded calories.
3. Veg out Р Eat your vegetables. Not slathered with butter or covered up with cheese, but with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
4. Protein power – Protein will help you feel full and increase your metabolism (1). Don’t over estimate this because¬†it can be a downfall. Like everything else, moderation is needed.
5. The dinner table – When you eat every meal at the dinner table, you create a psychological environment that lends itself to healthier eating. No one eats a bag of chips at the table, I hope.
One Thing Leads To The Next
When you create one good habit, another is sure to follow. This domino effect can be profound over time. Choose a healthier eating style that’s realistic for you to stick with, and gradually implement it by making small changes in your eating behaviors and turning them into positive habits before changing other eating behaviors. Of course there are loads of other ways to create the caloric deficit needed to create fat loss. Here is a great reference for those ready for the next steps. But for now, keep it simple and build upon your good habits.
Don’t forget to¬†like me on¬†Facebook!
1. Acheson, K. J., Blondel-Lubrano, A., Oguey-Araymon, S., Beaumont, M., Emady-Azar, S., Ammon-Zufferey, C.. . Bovetto, L. (2011). Protein choices targeting thermogenesis and metabolism. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 93(3), 525-534. doi:10.3945/ajcn.110.005850

Water Water Everywhere!

Today’s post is another double whammy! I am talking about staying healthy in the pool, and for those non-swimmers, the delicious healthiness of watermelon.

Today’s post is another double whammy! I am talking about staying healthy in the pool, and for those non-swimmers, the delicious healthiness of watermelon. I figure that in this heat everyone should be looking to use one or both of these things to stay cool¬†
Watermelon is one of my favorite foods because of how useful it is. Whether you slice it, cube it, freeze it, or make a drink from it, watermelon is endlessly delicious. Better yet, it is HEALTHY! Some of it’s good qualities include:
– Natural hydrator by containing 92% water
РHaving heart healthy nutrients such as lycopene and citrulline
РAn arginine precursor that can decrease body fat and enhance muscle
РDecrease post-exercise muscle soreness
Now that we know that watermelon helps out so much with exercise, lets take a look at swimming as a way to stay healthy. We all know that swimming is a great way to stay in shape. In fact swimming has been shown to reduce death rates in men, as well as decrease blood pressure. But it is not without its own set of risks for orthopedic injuries of the shoulders, knees, and lower back. So here are a few tips to keep those joints feeling good:
– Work on your stroke mechanics, and correct them before you develop pain
РUse traditional rehabilitation exercises as part of your injury prevention program. Target and strengthen the abdominal muscles, rotator cuff muscles, muscles around the shoulder blade, lower back muscles, and quadriceps and hip muscles (see me for details on how)
– When you are experiencing pain, tell some one and ADDRESS IT!!! Don’t fight through the pain. It drives me nuts when my athletes do this.
I hope everyone enjoyed this weeks post! Be sure to check out the¬†NASM¬†blog post about watermelon to get some great recipes, and check out Dr. Geier’s¬†blog¬†for more info about preventing injuries while swimming.

All About Sugar; Disease, Inflammation, Insulin, & Fat Gain

So what really happens when you eat sugar?

You eat sugar, your insulin spikes, you get fat, end of story. That’s how the story¬†goes¬†for people who are trying to sell you their products. But, because you are reading this,¬†you must already know that the likes of food babe and “Dr.” Mercola are full of crap. So what really happens when you eat sugar? Well let’s take a look at what the science says and dispel some myths and ease the fear caused by those only looking to line their wallets.
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Low Carb Diets
I’ll start by saying low carb diets work (1). They work because they force you to eat fewer calories than you use throughout the day. The same way that any weight loss program works. But it’s¬†not¬†due to some magical¬†insulin pixie. When you cut out a ton of calories, you are going to lose weight. It may seem obvious, but too many people mix up the message. A big part of why cutting carbs lowers your weight is due to water.¬†Switching to a low carb diet will cause an initial sharp¬†increase¬†¬†in total weight loss, but this is due to the drop in water weight that accompanies carb restriction (2). Of course this means¬†that¬†as soon as you start eating carbs again, you will regain the weight rapidly. Finally,¬†many are¬†successful on a low carb diet¬†because it automatically increases protein, which helps to curb appetite (3). They also typically eliminate all junk foods, which is where our excess calories come from.¬†Bottom line, if it works,¬†it works.
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About Insulin
I have written about this twice before (Part 1,¬†Part 2), but the more internet garbage I read, the more I want to write about it. Here’s a¬†good way¬†think about insulin’s roll in weight gain¬†‚ÄúInsulin is like workers in a warehouse.¬†Calories are the boxes that the workers have to stack on shelves.¬†If there‚Äôs lots of workers (high levels of insulin) and lots of boxes (a calorie surplus) then the boxes are packed quickly, and you get a build up of calories, i.e. fat gain.¬†If, however, you‚Äôre in a calorie deficit,¬†there are no boxes for the workers to store, so no matter how much insulin is present, there‚Äôs nothing to be stacked, and no fat mass to be added.‚ÄĚ In¬†other words, the only time carbs actually contribute to fat gain is in the context of a calorie surplus. It is also important to note that insulin sensitivity issues are most likely a result of obesity than it is a cause (4).¬†Bottom line, it’s not the insulin.
Fructose & High Fructose Corn Syrup
For some crazy reason, there are people on the internet who are ranting on about how bad fruit is for you because it has fructose in it. In short, fruit is good for you for many reasons, and fructose is not bad. Moderate levels of fructose consumption do not adversely effect body weight or blood chemistry. However, obscenely high levels of intake (>150 grams per day) may have undesirable health effects (5). High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has been blamed for the rise in obesity over the years. But the reality is that HFCS is the same as any other sugar and has nothing to do with the rise in obesity (6). Bottom line, HFCS and fructose are sugar and nothing more. Keep your consumption in check and you will be fine.
Sugar Addiction
Not so long ago,¬†I can remember news outlets around the US saying that sugar is as addictive as narcotics. The thought was that sugars would impact the pleasure center of your brain as well as energy-regulating hormones including insulin, leptin, and ghrelin.¬†This issue was popular because it would mean that our addiction would lead us to eat more sugar, which would make us eat more calories, and therefore make us fat. These stories got lots of views and clicks,¬†so the media kept¬†em comin¬†for a while. The problem is that the stories were based on terrible studies. In reality, the “addiction” seen in animals (and possibly in humans) is due to intermittent access to sweet tasting or highly palatable foods, not the neurochemical effects of sugar (7).¬†Bottom line, no one has ever needed to do a line of sugar because they got the shakes.
Inflammation, Diabetes, Heart Health & More
People from around the world, throughout history and today, have lived long,¬†obesity-free¬†and disease-free, lives while consuming carbs as much as 70% of their diets (8,9).¬†If carbs themselves are fattening, these populations would not have had lean bodies and good health overall, regardless of how active they were.¬†I’ve also heard talk around the gym lately that carbs, sugar in particular, cause¬†inflammation¬†and are therefore bad. Don’t get me wrong, chronic low grade¬†inflammation¬†is a¬†real¬†thing,¬†and it is bad, but it’s¬†not caused by¬†fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, or glucose in¬†normal-weight to obese adults. Not even when¬†consumed¬†in high¬†amounts¬†(10). There’s also¬†little support for a relationship between sugar consumption and diabetes, increases in blood pressure, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or¬†cardiovascular disease (11).¬†Bottom line, there’s no link between sugar consumption at normal levels within the human diet and various adverse metabolic and health-related effects.
Night Time Carbs
You will never guess what I’m about to say.¬†Carbs at night… are not bad! They can help you sleep,¬†help fuel training performance¬†the next day, and¬†carbs at night will have absolutely no negative effect on fat loss (12). Consuming food at night has no effect on overall metabolism either.¬†Bottom line, be happy with your meals and don’t sweat that night time snack.
Final Thoughts
Low carb diets are good and bad. As mentioned before, going low carb or ketogenic means your diet is higher in protein, which helps to curb appetite and eliminates junk foods, which is where our excess calories come from. But in the long term,¬†it means you have to sacrifice a lot. You will have a harder time going out and eating with friends, preparing meals will become far less convenient (especially for sandwich lovers like myself). You might feel worse,¬†and have lower energy¬†and overall mood.¬†If¬†anything,¬†it will make it harder to lose fat in the long run due¬†to¬†a (slightly) lowered metabolism (13). Some may say “if it works,¬†it works” but is it really worth the sacrifice? That’s up to you.¬†The bottom line¬†however, is that carbs don’t make you fat. So the next time someone says that sugar is making the world fat, tell them “it‚Äôs because of junk food as a whole ‚Äď the total calories ‚Äď and not just the carbs.”
1. Westman, E. C., Yancy, J., William S, Mavropoulos, J. C., Marquart, M., & McDuffie, J. R. (2008). The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Nutrition & Metabolism, 5(1), 36-36. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-5-36
2. Kreitzman, S. N., Coxon, A. Y., & Szaz, K. F. (1992). Glycogen storage: Illusions of easy weight loss, excessive weight regain, and distortions in estimates of body composition. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 56(1 Suppl), 292S.
3. Westerterp-Plantenga, M. S., Lemmens, S. G., & Westerterp, K. R. (2012). Dietary protein – its role in satiety, energetics, weight loss and health. The British Journal of Nutrition, 108 Suppl 2(S2), S105. doi:10.1017/S0007114512002589
4. Kahn, S. E., Prigeon, R. L., McCulloch, D. K., Boyko, E. J., Bergman, R. N., Schwartz, M. W.. . Palmer, J. P. (1993). Quantification of the relationship between insulin sensitivity and beta-cell function in human subjects. evidence for a hyperbolic function. Diabetes, 42(11), 1663.
5. Madero, M., Arriaga, J. C., Jalal, D., Rivard, C., McFann, K., Pérez-Méndez, O.. . Lozada, L. S. (2011). The effect of two energy-restricted diets, a low-fructose diet versus a moderate natural fructose diet, on weight loss and metabolic syndrome parameters: A randomized controlled trial. Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental, 60(11), 1551-1559. doi:10.1016/j.metabol.2011.04.001
6. White, J. S. (2008). Straight talk about high-fructose corn syrup: What it is and what it ain’t. United States: American Society for Clinical Nutrition, Inc. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2008.25825B
7. Westwater, M. L., Fletcher, P. C., & Ziauddeen, H. (2016). Sugar addiction: The state of the science. European Journal of Nutrition, doi:10.1007/s00394-016-1229-6
8. Lindeberg, S., Eliasson, M., Lindahl, B., & Ahr√©n, B. (1999). Low serum insulin in traditional pacific islanders‚ÄĒThe kitava study. Metabolism, 48(10), 1216-1219. doi:10.1016/S0026-0495(99)90258-5
9. Zhou, B. F., Stamler, J., Dennis, B., Moag-Stahlberg, A., Okuda, N., Robertson, C.. . INTERMAP Research Group. (2003). Nutrient intakes of middle-aged men and women in china, japan, united kingdom, and united states in the late 1990s: The INTERMAP study. Journal of Human Hypertension, 17(9), 623-630. doi:10.1038/sj.jhh.1001605
10. Kuzma JN et al. (2016).No differential effect of beverages sweetened with fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, or glucose on systemic or adipose tissue inflammation in normal-weight to obese adults: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr.
11. Rippe, J. M., & Angelopoulos, T. J. (2016). Sugars, obesity, and cardiovascular disease: Results from recent randomized control trials. European Journal of Nutrition, doi:10.1007/s00394-016-1257-2
12. Afaghi, A., O’Connor, H., & Chow, C. M. (2007). High-glycemic-index carbohydrate meals shorten sleep onset 1,2,3. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 85(2), 426.
13. Johnston, C. S., Tjonn, S. L., Swan, P. D., White, A., Hutchins, H., & Sears, B. (2006). Ketogenic low-carbohydrate diets have no metabolic advantage over nonketogenic low-carbohydrate diets. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 83(5), 1055.

Stopping DOMS

Today’s post is all about mitigating Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).

Today’s¬†post is all about mitigating Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). Now I want to be clear that DOMS is neither a good or a bad thing. It is just a part of the exercise experience for all of us. However, no one wants to be disabled the day after a heavy exercise session. So in an attempt to help us all walk normally after leg day, I will do my best to explain what causes DOMS, and how to dampen it.
Speaking of leg day, I think we have all been there. Day 1 you squat. Day 2 you feel tight. Days 2.5-4  you feel like every step, stair, and leg movement will make you cry. Days 6-7 you start to feel better and you do leg day again. This problem is experienced frequently and more severely with the initiation of an exercise program in a previously untrained person or muscle group. There is debate as to the exact cause of DOMS, however it is safe to say that muscle damage plays a large roll in its causation.
Here are a few ways to prevent DOMS when starting a new program, brought to you by the NSCA.
1. Caffeine! That’s right, a cup of Joe can help relieve some of that muscle pain. But the dose and timing make this intervention difficult to nail down. Around 5 mg/kg before a workout is recommended, but that equation isn’t always right for everyone.
2. Cryotherapy – This fancy term for ice bath, is an intervention that has been used for years. But realistically it’s just not practical. No one likes to be dunked in cold water, and especially not for the 10 minutes suggested. But hey, I won’t stop you if you want to turn your self into a Popsicle to avoid a little pain the day after a heavy lift.
3.¬†Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) – I am personally not a big fan of this intervention. Research shows that it has modest effects, and there’s no consensus on how much to take or when. For me, the best option is to take a high quality protein before and after exercise. It’s cheaper, tastier, and has a multitude of additional benefits.
4. Aerobic exercise – This should already be a part of your exercise routine, so it should be easy to implement. Doing 10-20 minutes worth of cardio before resistance exercise, or using active rest between sets, can be a great way to off set some DOMS.
I hope you all learned about some new ways to decrease your DOMS. Be sure to check out the full article for more information about each intervention, and to check out some of the science behind it all.

Cutting Through Crap & Real Solutions For Nutrition, Health, & Life

The truth is that the health and fitness industry is so rife with crap because, well, we buy it. Let’s take a look at what can be done, how to educate yourself so you don’t waste money, and how simple it is to really be healthy and happy with your body.

What if I told you I had THE ONE SIMPLE TRICK to get you to lose weight and gain muscle fast? All it takes is…¬†laser treatments,¬†super shakes,eating for your body type,¬†weight loss wraps, or some other bald faced lie. The truth is that the health and fitness industry is so rife with crap because, well, we buy it. We are all looking for the magic bullet to get us to where we want to be. Admittedly, most people, including myself, think it would be nice right? But in reality, you can‚Äôt alter your height, limb or torso length, and most other characteristics determined by your genetics. It‚Äôs not about trying to look like ‚Äúher/him‚ÄĚ; ¬†it‚Äôs about being the best version of yourself. So let’s take a look at what can be done, how to educate yourself so you don’t waste money, and how simple it is to really be healthy and happy with your body.

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My Redundant Plea

I have written on several occasions about¬†where to go for good advice/where bad info comes from,¬†how to spot bad swindlers/bad science, and¬†why you need to think critically about your investment in your health and fitness goals. But, after another week of fielding questions about “which shake should I be drinking” and “how many carbs should I have”, I wanted to pick on a few more¬†mind boggling BS claims. The powdered unicorn fart capsules known as shakeology, detox/cleanse, super supplements, and¬†Gwyneth Paltrow¬†continue to make people lose weight by making their wallets lighter. And it’s not just your local 20 something trainer caught up in a¬†multilevel marketing scheme, it’s people who have credentials who are getting in on the action. Take “Dr.” Joseph Mercola seen below who continues to¬†blur the lines between business and medicine.

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These folks, and those who claim that¬†you have to sacrifice, suffer, and deprive yourself to build a better looking body and that eating well and working out has to become your entire life, suck. They may make claims that their workout program will make you a battle-ready warrior or superior specimen of the human race, and that their diet will make you bulletproof. They may speak in absolutes stating ‚Äúwomen should always do A, B, and C‚ÄĚ, or ‚Äúwomen should never do X, Y, and Z.‚ÄĚ They use words like ‚Äúgroundbreaking‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúrevolutionary‚ÄĚ frequently when describing quick-fix fads and gimmicks.¬†You may encounter entire groups¬†that put down other people who don‚Äôt work out or eat the way they do. For the record, any group claiming to be better than others because of their health and fitness lifestyle has eaten too many of their own poop sandwiches. Speaking of poop sandwiches, just because someone had success with a particular diet or workout program doesn‚Äôt mean it‚Äôs the best option for you.¬†Anything promising to make your muscles ‚Äúlong and lean‚ÄĚ or says you can look like someone else is, once again, a turdy bacon club sandwich.¬†Diets that blame¬†a macronutrient (e.g., fat, protein, carbohydrates) or food group (e.g., dairy) for hindering your fat loss efforts are, you guessed it, crap.CARBS¬†WILL NOT¬†MAKE YOU FAT!!!!! Science (1).¬†A low-fat diet isn’t a benefit because eating fat doesn’t cause disease. NOT eating it probably does, and we now know the body even needs some saturated fat to function optimally (2). Salt won’t kill you or drive up blood pressure if you‚Äôre generally healthy (3). And gluten… well what can be said other than¬†food marketers have simply found another way to convince you that their bag or box of garbage is healthy (4).

Find the people who know their stuff, and learn from them. You can, again, check out my favorite¬†“go to” resources here, but in short,¬†Alan Aragon,Precision Nutrition, and¬†Brad¬†Schoenfeld¬†will always be on my short list of trusted information sources.


Simple, Practical, Crap Free Advice

Now that we have bravely made it past the organic corn fill BM that is much of the fitness industry, let’s take a look at some info¬†that will actually help.

-First up, short cuts don’t exist. Like many other aspects of life, if you¬†truly¬†want to achieve a goal, you must put in some effort.

-Strict diets are not sustainable long-term and exercise is not punishment. Your best bet is to eat real food with ample amounts of fruits and vegetables, and you‚Äôll reap far greater results by consistently doing exercises you like (e.g.¬†hiking, take a group fitness class, start learning martial arts, or anything that sounds fun to you) rather¬†than haphazardly doing something deemed perfect.¬†Find out what you like for both nutrition and exercise, and you will see results and be much happier in the long run. Isn’t that what it’s all about in the end anyways?

-Know that gimmicks prey on your insecurities (and even create new ones). You don’t have to be miserable or deprived. Stick to the basics: eat mostly real, minimally processed foods, and strength train 2-4 days per week, and get enough sleep. These should be done according to your preferences and time availability.

-If you make a mistake, or even fail completely, don’t beat yourself up. Practice some self-compassion and then move on and do something positive when possible.


I am going to talk about looking and feeling confident because if you want that shredded, 6 pack abs, glistening muscles, ripped look, you may want to think about what it takes to get there. First of all, it’s tough to get and stay lean enough to look like¬†Khal Drogo. It takes¬†dedication, knowledge, and a win of the genetics lottery. But from disease risk to brain function and physical performance, a healthy diet is vital for every aspect of life. So to feel¬†confident enough to take off your shirt at a pool party or feel like you can take on the world (or a last minute 5k you get invited to), then you will want to¬†look into these rational steps.

  1. Know that total calorie intake is key (5). If you put in more calories than you burn, you will store them as new muscle or body fat. If you consume fewer calories than you burn every day, you will lose weight (6).
  2. Know what macro nutrients are. Carbs4 calories per gram. All starchy foods like bread, pasta and potatoes. Also includes fruit, legumes, juice, sugar and some dairy products.

Protein 4 calories per gram. Main sources include meat and fish, dairy, eggs, legumes and vegetarian alternatives like tofu.

Fats 9 calories per gram. Main sources include nuts, seeds, oils, butter, cheese, oily fish and fatty meat.

  1. Know what whole foods are. Basing your diet on whole foods is an extremely effective but simple strategy to improve health and lose weight. They are the unprocessed foods containing only one ingredientthat should be eaten at least 80-90% of the time. So if the product looks like it was made in a factory, then it’s probably not a whole food.
  2. Know that no food is strictly off limits. However, overeating certain foods like processed low-fatproducts and refined carbscan increase disease risk and lead to weight gain (7).
  3. Know that by controlling your portions, you are more likely to avoid consuming too many calories. To avoid portion distortion, you can use smaller plates and take a smaller-than-average first serving, then wait 20 minutes before you return for more. You can also use the hand method.
  4. Know how to assess your calorie needs. You can use a calorie calculator, free calorie/nutrienttrackers, or simply consider increasing protein intake. Protein shakes can be very helpful, but know that what type you buyis also based on your goals.
  5. Know that most people regain all the weight they lost soon after attempting a weight loss diet (8). To avoid being a statistic, follow the rule that if you can’t see yourself on this diet in one, two or three years, then it’s not right for you. Making a sustainable diet means that you can enjoy and stick with it for the long term. If you want unhealthy foods, save them for an occasional treat.



Don’t forget to like me on¬†Facebook!


  1. Kreitzman, S. N., Coxon, A. Y., & Szaz, K. F. (1992). Glycogen storage: Illusions of easy weight loss, excessive weight regain, and distortions in estimates of body composition. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 56(1 Suppl), 292S.
  2. Skeaff, C. M., & Miller, J. (2009). Dietary fat and coronary heart disease: Summary of evidence from prospective cohort and randomised controlled trials. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 55(1-3), 173. doi:10.1159/000229002
  3. Cohen, H. W., Hailpern, S. M., Fang, J., & Alderman, M. H. (2006). Sodium intake and mortality in the NHANES II follow-up study. The American Journal of Medicine, 119(3), 275.e7-275.e14. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2005.10.042
  4. Reilly, NR. (2016) The Gluten-Free Diet: Recognizing Fact, Fiction, and Fad. The Journal of Pediatrics. , Volume 0 , Issue 0 ,DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2016.04.014
  5. Swinburn, B. A., Sacks, G., Lo, S. K., Westerterp, K. R., Rush, E. C., Rosenbaum, M.. . Ravussin, E. (2009). Estimating the changes in energy flux that characterize the rise in obesity prevalence. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 89(6), 1723.
  6. Hall, K. D., Heymsfield, S. B., Kemnitz, J. W., Klein, S., Schoeller, D. A., & Speakman, J. R. (2012). Energy balance and its components: Implications for body weight regulation. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 95(4), 989.
  7. Gross, L. S., Li, L., Ford, E. S., & Liu, S. (2004). Increased consumption of refined carbohydrates and the epidemic of type 2 diabetes in the united states: An ecologic assessment. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 79(5), 774.
  8. Dulloo, A. G., & Montani, J. ‚Äź. (2015). Pathways from dieting to weight regain, to obesity and to the metabolic syndrome: An overview. Obesity Reviews, 16(S1), 1-6. doi:10.1111/obr.12250

Carbs Are Not The Enemy! Part 2

To see the big picture lets focus back in on what else is driving the obesity epidemic.

I had such a great response to last weeks post that I decided to do a part 2 on carbohydrates (CHO) and its relationship to obesity! So once again the focus will be on insulin, and like last week the information¬†is not all inclusive and does not cover everyone with a special need, disease, or condition. Of course before I dive in I want to remind everyone that for¬†healthy¬†individuals, insulin is very tightly controlled by the body and there is no reason at all to fear it.¬†And as a refresher on what insulin does I’ll remind you that one of insulin‚Äôs main roles is to maintain glucose homeostasis.
So this week I am going to start by saying why CHO’s are bad according to a couple¬†of¬†sources.
 РIncreased sugar consumption has significantly contributed to the rise in obesity and metabolic diseases
 РThere is an association between risk of overweight and obesity and fructose-containing sugars consumed as sugar-sweetened beverages
 РHigh intakes of highly palatable foods like refined grains, processed meats, red meats, French fries, and potato products play a role in weight gain
¬†–¬†Insulin levels are typically increased in obese individuals
At this point you may be asking yourself “wait what? I thought this was about how carbs aren’t bad for me?” I will say first and foremost thatassociation is not causation. This means that the previously mentioned issues are only part of the problem. To see the big picture lets focus back in on what else is driving the obesity epidemic.
¬†– Physical inactivity!!!!!!!!!! (as I sit in front of a screen I realize that I’m a hypocrite… I’m doing 10 squats before I write more and so should you!)
¬†–¬†Over consumption¬†of all foods is associated with overweight and obesity
¬†–¬†Western dietary pattern and lifestyle in general is just a culture of poor decisions
I say this because I really dislike absolutes. As in CHO’s are the reason why we have an obesity¬†crisis. To me it doesn’t make sense. We have been eating the stuff forever without issue¬†so why all of a sudden is it becoming a problem? Why are so many people blaming sugar and insulin to be the issue? Well the first, and most obvious, answer to this is that individuals want to make a quick buck off of a product, book, or alternative health care product. The second answer is that some individual just don’t understand whats really the issue. So here are some bullet point’s on why an¬†increased insulin response to CHO consumption leading to lipogenesis (energy stored as fat) is not likely the mechanistic cause of the obesity problem.
 РThe supportive data for insulin being the bad guy are largely supported by ecological observations, rodent models of overfeeding (humans are not rats), and select human trials (all are poor evidence)
 РThere have been no high quality studies showing that fructose-containing sugars behave differently from any other forms of energy intake
 РAlthough the food mentioned earlier are associated with increased levels of obesity, total sugars or other important sources of added sugars such as cakes, pastries and sweets have not
 РIf insulin was the true problem, we would observe increased insulin in all cases of obesity
¬†–¬†While there is increased insulin in obese people (in most cases), it appears its action is reduced (i.e. its action of¬†lipogenesis and reducinglipolysis¬†on fat¬†tissue is decreased)
 РInsulin can have short-term effects on how nutrients are stored in the body for things like muscle glycogen synthesis and muscle protein synthesis
So what the hell does this all mean? Well to sum it all up I can say that CHO’s do not cause¬†obesity. They do however, play an important roll. It is way to easy to consume CHO’s in large¬†quantities so it’s important to know how much energy you are taking in. Insulin¬†is a substrate conductor that tells your cells what to use for fuel and¬†can be manipulated to optimize fuel portioning to promote fat oxidation and recovery from workouts.¬†What this all means is that¬†obesity is likely the cause of insulin resistance, and NOT¬†the driving factor behind it.
For more information I recommend you read the three fantastic articles. Additionally check out this TED talk for more thoughts on insulin resistance.