Surviving the Holidays

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Surviving the Holidays

Here come the holidays and with them all of the social festivities, parties, dinners, drinks, and everything that might be causing you stress about how you'll possibly stick to your nutrition plan for the next few weeks. 

Here are 5 tips to survive the holiday season and come back out in the new year feeling great.

  1. Eat slowly. When we slow down to eat our food, we're able to really enjoy it. Food should be an enjoyable thing, not something we are dreading or choking down. So choose foods you enjoy, while picking the best options, and really savor it. When we slow down, it also gives our brain a chance to let us know when we're full. Our digestive system lets our brain know when we've reached capacity so that we will stop eating. As you may know, if you eat too quickly, this trigger sometimes comes too late and by then we are uncomfortable full.
     
  2. Only eat until you are satisfied, rather than stuffed. This can mean eating until you are 80% full rather than unbuttoning your jeans to make room. This becomes easier as you slow down to eat as well. Nobody really enjoys that uncomfortable, miserable full feeling that leaves you dreading the next few hours. 
     
  3. Have a plan for eating well on the go. The holidays not only bring a lot of social obligations, but a lot of places to be and a busier schedule than usual, so having healthy options for eating while you're busy can be a life saver. Here are some ideas you can stuff in your car, desk, or purse to have easy access to that require little preparation:

    Tuna in a pouch (in water)
    Nuts and seeds & trail mix
    Protein bars (with high protein and low sugar)
    Meat jerky (low in sugar)
    Hard boiled eggs
    Raw veggies with hummus/nut butter
    Canned sardines/salmon
    Dry protein powder that you can mix with water

    You can use pre-prepare homemade protein bars like these paleo protein recipes.

    Don't be afraid to stop at a gas station or convenience store to find something to tide you over when you're in a bind. In these situations, look for a better option than standard gas station food, but don't worry about it not being perfect. For instance, an apple will be better than chips, and a jerky stick is better than a candy bar. Do better, not perfect. Health is a continuum, and nowhere on that is perfect all the time. 
     
  4. Use calorie control with tools you can take everywhere. Whether you're counting calories or using more tangible methods of measuring your foods, take your tools with you. If your hands are your tools for measuring your portions, you're in luck - they go everywhere! If you've never been introduced to this method portion control, we should chat! 
     
  5. Get in your veggies, and keep it interesting. Mix up your routine to find new combinations for your veggies and preparing them to make sure you avoid falling into a slump of eating the same things when there are so many tempting options out there. You're more likely to stick with your plan of eating vegetables regularly if you're looking forward to having them. Check out this infographic from Precision nutrition for help! 

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The Weekend - How to Stay on Track

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The Weekend - How to Stay on Track

I hear it all the time.. "I'm really consistent during the week, but then on the weekends, everything falls apart and I'm derailed with my food. It's like starting over again every week."

You see, when we have a consistent schedule (you wake up at the same time, grab breakfast, go to work, get lunch around the same time, and come home to dinner) it's easy to follow the plan you've created. But when the weekend hits and you're out enjoying yourself, go out for dinner, or see friends and family, it gets difficult.

If you've been working on your nutrition for a while, you know that the weekend can create a big issue. You feel crappy come Monday morning,  you feel like you're starting over, and you might even been super inflamed from the junk you ate and drank, not to mention you may see a little weight increase. 

To tackle these less than ideal weekend habits, try looking at your weekday habits as well. 

  1. What level of perfection are you striving for? When tackling a new nutrition plan or diet, many people think it has to be "perfect." If you adhere to strict meal plans Monday through Friday, chances are you fall apart by the weekend based on shear willpower breaking down from striving for that perfection constantly. If you can't have the perfectly constructed meal you're used to, you figure why not go all out cause it doesn't matter. Or you start to Mae compromises because you did so well all week. Sound familiar? 

    Instead, focus on creating a balance that is good enough. Following a decent plan with some give and take is better than quitting the "perfect plan" every weekend. This will go along ways in terms of your mental state as well.
     
  2. Let go of the food rules. You know the drill... These are the foods you can and can't eat. Here's when and when you shouldn't eat those things, or how much you should be having. Try letting go of those. Otherwise when you go out with friends and everyone orders pizza, your mentality of "I don't eat carbs" turns into "f*** it" and you go WAY overboard. 

    When all you think about is these rules you've created, when they are no longer in the picture during the weekend, you no longer have anything to guide you, and binging happens. Instead, ditch the rules and feed yourself based on hunger. When you're craving something, it's because your body needs something. Feed it!
     
  3. Forget about "cheat day." Everyone wants to know..."Do I get any cheat days? What should I do on cheat days?" Some people find this practice really helpful for maintaining a more strict regimen, but many people also find that they go out of control in anticipation of getting back to their regimen. 

    If you get rid of designated cheat days, and instead eat what you feel like throughout the week, you'll likely naturally begin to make conscious decisions about what you're eating and do so in accordance with what feels good to your body. Ever had way too many sweets on your cheat day? Bet you didn't feel good. But you don't want to feel like that all the time so you'll back off and find some moderation. Without that feeling of scarcity, you won't need to binge or go nuts any day of the week. 
     
  4. Be responsible for your choices. Own up. Here's another common scenario. You ate salad every day this week for lunch and you turned down that birthday cake at the office, so come Saturday you're going to order a big dessert no matter what. Since when did we start making these trade off like children bartering for our food?

    These types of mind games only undermine your health. You ate all those salads because you have a health goal in mind. Is eating a big dessert for no other reason than because "you've earned it" really aiding in achieving those goals? Probably not. 

    Own your decisions. If you feel like eating an entire pint of ice cream, recognize that you might feel gross afterwards, bloated the next day, or feel guilty about it. You can also acknowledge that you're okay with all those consequences in that instance. That probably won't be the case all the time. But you won't be surprised by the outcome either. 
     
  5. Stop rationalizing or making excuses for yourself. The weekends create a lot of obstacles for us: you get busy, or you were bored because nothing was going on, you had to work, you were traveling, or just sitting at home, or you had social events to attend. These are all rationalizations for why it's okay for you to fall off the wagon. Sorry, tough truth here.

    Stop finding excuses and rationalizing your decisions and dig deeper into why your behavior changes on the weekends. Are you bored? Are you happy? Are you sad? Look for these reasons and you'll probably start to notice some patterns. One way to break the cycle is to find the pattern and then actively make adjustments to address those needs rather than bingeing. 

This stuff can be tricky and it's not always easy to figure out. Take on one step at a time to create a fully healthy lifestyle that includes your weekends and removes the guilt and crummy feelings come Monday morning. 

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Salt Series: Exercise

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Salt Series: Exercise

We all remember the constant advertisements for Gatorade and the need to replenish our electrolytes during and following exercise. But those drinks are filled with real and artificial sugar, and there might be an easier way. 

In conjunction with our Salt - How You've Been Misled and How It Can Change Your Life blog, I wanted to dive deeper into how salt can improve not only your performance during exercise, but get rid of that need to quench your thirst. 

Even if you're drinking enough water, you might feel like you still struggle to cool down during your workout. Salt can help. Adding 2, 300 mg of sodium (or about a teaspoon of salt) per liter of water has been found to reduce total fluid loss during exercise. Drinking salty water can be a little gross at times, so here's some better ideas:

  1. Thirty minutes prior to starting exercise, take about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and wash it down with water to help hydrate you and improve overall circulation . 
  2. Dilute salt in a mixture of lemon, lime, and orange juice. 
  3. Eat three large pickles or five large olives washed down with some pickle/olive juice
  4. Dissolve chicken bouillon cubes in warm water and drink

Some benefits you might notice from this dosage of salt prior to exercise include:

  • Less thirst - You won't feel the need to quench your third and you'll need less water to feel good
  • Greater exercise capacity - You'll be able to train longer due to improved body cooling and circulation resulting in tissue oxygenation and blood flow, plus you'll be better hydrated
  • Improved performance as a result of feeling good
  • Improved muscle gains as a result of being able to work harder longer
  • Decreased risk of muscle cramps
  • Increased kidney function and the ability to excrete more water

Try it out. If you notice an improvement, you may want to make this part of your regular pre-workout regimen. 

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Salt Series: Pregnancy

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Salt Series: Pregnancy

After releasing our Salt - How You've Been Misled and How It Can Change Your Life blog, I realized there are a number o niches that are particularly effected by the intake of salt or lack therefore. 

This piece of the series will cover the importance of salt in pregnancy and how it effects children in the womb for the remainder of their life. 

We all know that the food and nutrients that expecting mothers eat during their pregnancy can have damaging effects on their unborn children. One of those things that is often missed it the intake of salt and how this dietary factor creates a salt thermostat for children as early as their time in the womb. 

If your mother ate too little salt while you were in the womb, following the guidelines for high blood pressure she has been led to believe, you would develop in a salt-deprived state. This would lead to the dopmaine receptors in your brain to become highly sensitive to salt, and you would receive additional satisfaction when eating it. In fact, studies have shown that low salt intake in pregnant mothers leads to their children craving and eating more salt throughout their childhood and adulthood. This helps to ensure the survival of the offspring during dehydration events. 

However, the consequences go far beyond a craving for salt for the rest of your life. When a pregnant mother has low salt intake, her offspring can develop increased fat mass, insulin resistance, and raised levels of "bad cholesterol and triglycerides, which can carry into adulthood. This suggests that low salt intake during pregnancy (and lactation for breast-feeding mothers) can lead to children developing abnormal blood lipid levels, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and chronic kidney disease.

In addition to this, low salt intake during pregnancy can also create a predisposition to the addiction of substances of abuse - salt, sugar, and even drug additions. Not exactly a mother's dream..

Okay, so what about the idea that too much salt can lead to preeclampsia, a condition characterized by hypertension that can be dangerous for both mother and unborn child?  

In 1958, a study was published that compared a high salt diet to a low salt diet in pregnant women. The results showed that extra salt dosage treated preeclampsia rather than causing or worsening it. In fact, low-salt diets in pregnancy led to muscle weakness, particular in the legs, which was treated with more salt. The authors summarized the results by stating that extra salt in the diet is "essential for the health of a pregnant woman, her fetus, and the placenta." 

Here's a list of possible negative side effects from a low-salt diet during pregnancy:

  • Increased chance of miscarriage
  • Increased risk of premature delivery
  • Increased risk of infant mortality
  • Increased risk of bleeding in the mother
  • Increased risk of preeclampsia
  • Increased risk of low-birth-weight babies who will become chronic salt carvers/addicts with higher risk of obesity, insulin resistance, hypertension, and compromised kidney function 

So how much salt do you need? 

It's simple, eat to taste. If you're craving salt, add it to your meals. A good range of salt intake daily is between 3-6 grams per day (or about 1 1/3 to 2 2/3 teaspoons of salt) for healthy adults). The Council for Responsible Nutrition also recently recommended that dietary supplements intended for pregnant and lactating women include 150 micrograms of iodine

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All About Intermittent Fasting

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All About Intermittent Fasting

Whether you realize it or not, you do some form of intermittent fasting naturally. However, the trend has been gaining attention lately and many people are increasing their fasting periods to see some incredible results. 

So what does intermittent fasting mean anyways?

Intermittent fasting (IF) is the practice of going periods of time without eating. This can be as simple as fasting for an entire 24 hours, or it can be done on a daily basis. For instance, if you eat dinner at 8pm and don't eat again until 7am, you're fasting! Any time that you aren't eating between meals is considered a fast. Obviously, the longer the period of the time, the more substantial the fast. Some people even past for up to 28 days. 

Where this becomes a conscious decision is typically by increasing that period of time fasting between meals to something like 16 to 20 hours - for example, you could stop eating by 8pm and not have your next meal until 12pm for a 16-hour fasted period. This is done to maximize the body's ability to use what it currently has stored as energy rather than utilize new fuel (food) sources. 

Here's the quick and dirty pro's and con's from IF:

Benefits

  • Decreases blood lipids, including triglycerides and LBL (bad) cholesterol
  • Decreases markers of inflammation in the body
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Decreases the risk of cancer
  • Increased fat burning (through increased fatty acid oxidation which happens the longer you fast for)
  • Increased growth-hormone release (also released more the longer you fast for)
  • Increases metabolic rate
  • Better appetite control 
  • Improved blood-sugar control (through lowering blood glucose levels and thus the incidence of insulin sensitivity)
  • Better cardiovascular function 
  • Improved physique 

It may not be for you if:

  • You are new to diet and exercise. IF tends to work best for those who are familiar with monitoring their food intake, especially when it comes to timing. There are other, much more beneficial things to focus on when you're beginning your nutrition transformation. 
  • You have children. Fasting can be difficult, but not impossible, if children who needs food regularly are involved in your life. 
  • You have a performance or client-related profession. You can experience periods of low performance and mood when first beginning IF.
  • You compete in sports/athletics and train daily or multiple times per day. You may need to eat outside of the allotted window to not only perform well, but recover well from your training. 
  • You have a history of eating disorders or feel that this may be an unhealthy outlook for your overall lifestyle.

If you think experimenting with IF might be beneficial for you, give it a go. You might experience some hunger and moodiness at first, but it can make create substantial psychical changes in your body.

Courtesy of Dr. John Berardi. Intermittent fasted helped Berardi go from 10% body fat (top) to 4% body fat (bottom).

Courtesy of Dr. John Berardi. Intermittent fasted helped Berardi go from 10% body fat (top) to 4% body fat (bottom).

If you're not sure how to get started with IF or any nutrition program, I'm now offering a 30-minute consultation via phone or Skype to discuss your needs and provide as much support and guidance as possible. 

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Salt - How You've Been Misled and How It Can Change Your Life

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Salt - How You've Been Misled and How It Can Change Your Life

If you have high blood pressure, there's a chance you've had a medical physician recommend that you lower your salt intake to help reduce it. Even if you haven't been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you've probably heard that you should restrict your salt intake overall - low sodium soy sauce, moderate salt added to your cooking, etc. 

The low-salt intake theory for reducing blood pressure made sense when it was introduced. When we eat salt, we get thirsty. The excess salt then causes the body to hold onto the water in order to dilute the salt in the bloodstream, resulting in higher blood volume and high blood pressure. It makes sense, right? But there wasn't actually data to back up this theory.

Today we're delving down deep into why the low-salt theory was wrong, where it came from, and the harshly negative effects it can have on your body (including weight gain).

The high-salt hypothesis stemmed from a study conducted in 1904 from the findings of just six patients. The concept became popular in the United States in the 1920's, stating that in addition to the rising blood pressure epidemic, we also needed to be concerned about the health of our kidneys filtering through too much salt, thus potentially decreasing their life expectancy. This continued through the 1970's, when two scientists from the Loisiana State University Medical Center claimed that the combination of high-salt and low-potassium intake leads to hypertension (high blood pressure) only in those who were genetically susceptible. The details of this study were blurred, leading to headlines states that salt leads to hypertension. In 1977, George McGovern's Senate Select Committed on Nutrition and Human Needs published the findings, which recommended that all Americans restrict their salt intake to just 3 grams (1.2 grams of sodium) per day. 

In response, the American Medical Association said, "While epidemiological observations suggest a relationship between salt ingestion and hypertension, they fail to support the hypothesis that salt consumption is a major factor in causing hypertension in person in the United States." To add to this, the Committee of Nutrition of the American Academy of Pediatrics states, "The role of salt intake as an environmental factor in the induction of hypertension has still not been define. For 80% of the population in this country, present salt intake has not been demonstrated to be harmful."

Despite these claims from major medical establishments, salt restrictions became popular recommendations for doctors when facing a rising population with high blood pressure and the desire to solve the problem. 

What patients weren't told, however, were the negative effects of reducing their salt intake, which we are now seeing in astounding numbers. 

Alongside the introduction to mainstream culture as salt being the bad guy, leading to hypertension, in 1977, the sugar industry cited Jean Mayer, a professor at Harvard, who suggested that the rising obesity problem was cause by inactivity. This shifted the focus from "harmful calories" to "total calories." Sugar was then able to fly able to fly under the radar of scrutiny. We focused on saturated fats, which have more calories per gram than sugar. And thus, sugar became a staple in the diet while fats and salt were blamed for our rising diseases and cut out of the American diet. More on sugar to come...

You may remember seeing TIME magazine scrutinizing saturated fats in 1961, but how about this image from TIME in 1982? The fault of salt became center stage. 

So now it's time for the truth:
Low salt is dangerous.
Our bodies evolved to need salt.
Low-salt guidelines are based on traditional "wisdom" rather than scientific fact.
Sugar has been the real culprit, and salt can actually help mitigate the effects of sugar. 

Our bodies need salt to function, and not having enough can lead to wide range of symptoms that cause health deterioration, such as:

  • Low electrolyte balance. Salt (also known as sodium chloride, NaCl) turns into electrolytes once it is dissolved in the blood and other bodily fluids. In fact, they are the highest concentration of electrolytes found in our blood. 
  • Absorption of twice as much fat for every gram your consume. Consuming too little salt can change a variety of hormone responses, effectively increasing sugar cravings, creating insulin resistance, develop an out-of-control appetite - leading to what's called "internal starvation." One of the body's defense mechanisms for lower salt intake is to increase insulin levels and create an insulin resistance. Similarly, if you are not getting enough iodine (typically consumed through salt) thyroid function can be impaired. If thyroid function decreases, you have the risk of developing hypothyroidism, a condition in which your metabolic rate slows down, more fat is stored, insulin resistance develops further, and weight gain occurs. Even for those who do not seen weight gain, they can be "metabolically overweight," where fat has accumulated around the organs - also known as "thin on the outside and fat on the inside" (TOFI) or "skinny fat."
  • Increases release of hormones to compensate for fat loss, such as renin, angiotensin, aldosterone, leptin, etc).

Put this alongside sugar intake, and the consequences have been deadly. The intake of sugar has been steadily increasing since the 1700's, alongside our misguided recommendations to remove salt and other valuable nutrients from our diets. 

The intake of refined sugars in the United States between 1776 and 2002 has increased thirtyfold, with similar increases found occurring in England. The parallels in the rise of obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and kidney is disease in this time are hard to ignore. 

It's also important to note that a change in the diet generally takes two to three decades to cause a rise in disease prevalence, meaning that the toxic threshold of sugar in the United States would have been reached sometime between 1905 and 1915 in order to account for the dramatic rise in heart disease seen in the 1935 that sparked the search for a cure. 

So how much salt do we really need to be eating?

We thought we needed to restrict it, but what if we eat too much? The good news is that your body is designed and thrives when it has too much salt. In fact, your kidneys are able to excrete it readily if eaten in excess (which doesn't happen too often anyways). On average, our kidneys may filter between 3.2 and 3.6 pounds of salt per day. This is about 150 times the amount of salt we ingest per day. Our kidneys filter 6 grams of salt every five minutes, and the stress on our kidneys comes mainly from having to conserve salt and reabsorb it. 

Scientific research suggests that the optimal range for sodium intake is 3 to 6 grams per day (or about 1 1/3 to 2 2/3 teaspoons of salt) for healthy adults, rather than the recommended 2,300mg of sodium (for perspective, this is less than 1 teaspoon of salt).

Some people even need more than this (those manages shock or burns to help skin heal, to counter low sodium levels, those who sweat often and excessively, those pregnant to lactating, those with high sugar diets, those with kidney disease, those with inflammatory bowel disease, those on a low-carb diet). If one of these relates to you, please don't hesitate to comment asking how your intake should be altered. 

The simple solution for ensuring that you get enough salt intake daily is to salt your food to taste. Salt tastes good. And when we are low on salt on our body, our natural salt thermostat will tell us. We may even notice that salty food tastes even saltier. This is our way of knowing that we need more. 

There is a silver-lining to the salt and sugar complex. Salt can help us kick the sugar addiction. Next week's blog will go into depth on how this happens and how to finally resolve your cravings naturally with salt. 

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Low-Carb Pros and Cons

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Low-Carb Pros and Cons

Carbs are the enemy for most of us. At least this is what we have been led to believe. What has sprouted are many diets, the Paleo diet included, that promote low carb solutions to not only losing weight but living the healthiest life possible.

In recent years however, many Paleo-promoting specialists have refined those parameters to include carbs again. Why? Aren't they bad? The blog will cover the pros, the cons, what you may be confused about, and how to use carbs properly. 

Just for background, let's remember that excessive carb intake is transformed into fat cells inside the body. This is where obesity and fat storage come from, rather than in the intake of fat in our diet. So when it comes to carbs, we tend to understand that limiting is best for our weight and overall health. 

One thing to note about carbs, however, is that there are different quality of carbs. Some increase inflammation, increase our insulin levels and blood sugar. Some don't have those effects. Corn syrup, candy, muffins = yes, bad effects. Broccoli, sweet potatoes, brown rice = not bad effects. 

Reducing carbs in your diet has some costs. If you've ever done this, these symptoms will be a rough reminder: you feel lousy, cranky, sluggish and sometimes even sick. 

This happens because most of us require some level of carbohydrates to function properly long-term. Emphasis here because while you may be able to cut out carbs temporarily, it likely won't feel good for you in the long run, especially if you workout. If you do, in fact, workout regularly, some side effects of reducing your carb intake includes:

  • decreased thyroid output - Hormone T3 is the most active thyroid hormone and is responsible for managing blood glucose levels and metabolic function. We also have rT3 (reverse T3) which inhibits the production of T3. When we don't have enough carbs, not only does our T3 slow down in production, but rT3 increases and blocks the capacity of the T3. What does this mean? Your energy levels go down, your metabolism slows down, and you probably feel like junk. 
  • increased cortisol output - Cortisol is your stress response hormone. We want to cortisol in our body to help us get jazzed up for workouts and for fight-or-flight situations, but too much means we have too much stress on our body and can begin to break down normal responses (hey, adrenal fatigue). 
  • decreased testosterone - In conjunction with increase cortisol, we see decreased testosterone with the reduction of carb intake. "I'm female, so no big deal." Wrong. Testosterone is important for everyone regardless of gender. Testosterone gives us the ability to grow our muscles and function actively, as well as promote bone strength . The combination of these two hormones being out of whack leads to negative effects in performance. 
  • impaired mood and cognitive function - This goes without saying. Ever been hangry? You're probably missing some carbs, going through low blood sugar, or something like that. You shouldn't feel like you're up and down on a roller coaster (this is part of why refined carbs are bad for you), but your brain needs carbs for energy to function in addition to both protein and fat. 
  • muscle catabolism - When you're exercising, the goal is to typically break down muscle (get sore) and then rebuild it to be stronger. When you aren't eating enough carbs, however, your muscles breakdown and are unable to rebuild themselves. "But I'm eating a TON of protein so I should be fine." Wrong again. We needs carbs in the diet as well because building muscle requires the release of insulin in order to replenish depleted glycogen stores in the muscles that are doing all the work for us during exercise. When your muscles breakdown and aren't being replenished, your body also stops creating new proteins to rebuild, so nothing happens. The result is that you'll see a big decrease in muscle mass as your tear them up without rebuilding them, no matter how much you workout. 
  • suppressed immune function - All of this in combination can lead to a decreases functioning system overall. When this happens, we put a lot of stress on our immune system to keep us healthy, and it's not always able to pull us through. Which means that you might end up with a cold upon reducing your carb intake. 

Now, there is no one-size fits all diet for everyone. Some people (like ultra endurance athletes) do really well with high carb intake. Some also do really well with low intake (such as the Keto Diet). But most of us are somewhere in between the two extremes. Carb intake is typically determined base on your body type. Some body types tolerate carbs incredibly well, meaning that they don't automatically convert carbs into fat cells. Others, however, do exactly that. Feel like you can't eat a little bit of rice without gaining a few extra pounds? You're that body type. And it's okay - there is a nutrition plan for everyone to be able to eat carbs suited to them individually and achieve the results they want, which for most of us means a lean body with energy to enjoy it fully. 

 

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Why Is Nutrition So Confusing?

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Why Is Nutrition So Confusing?

There's a lot of information out there, and not all of it agrees with each other. You might see one article or study that says coconut oil is bad for you while there's another that says you should eat it with every meal. Likewise, your doctor might tell you that eating red meat will increase your risk of heart disease, but your nutritionist says that there's nothing wrong with red meat. In recent years, news has come out that may have contradicted the wisdom from your doctor for the past 20 years. 

So how do you figure out what to believe? What's actually true?

First we need to figure out why all of this conflicting information is happening. For one thing, the study of nutrition is relatively young. Doctors historically focus on preventing and curing diseases rather than focusing on creating health in the average person. This can lead to a lack of information for someone trying to avoid those things. The medical industry is one that surrounds disease, not health. In addition to this, doctors aren't always trained to help with your nutrition. This isn't their fault - they just don't receive extensive nutrition training in medical school. Their recommendations are based around popular understanding and what health agencies are saying is true - and sometimes the health agencies get it wrong, like in the case of saturated fat

Secondly, there are a lot of studies out there. We would like to think that all studies are conducted with integrity, but this is aways the case as we found out when the sugar industry paid off researchers to downplay the hazards of sugar and instead blame fat for popular disease concerns. It's not cheap to conduct high-level research, and scientists are often funded by interested parties. This isn't to say that they are completely lying about the results, but they are able to design studies to produce the results they want. 

Studies are looking for answers, but ultimately they can only provide us correlation. Correlation means that there may be a connection between two variables. For instance, if I eat red meat it may lead to heart disease. But this is not the same as causation, which is something that no study is able to prove as fast. No study can say that red meat causes heart disease. There are two many factors and variables to make such a claim. 

Let's say there is a perfect, integrity based study. It should give us accurate results no matter what, right? Well.. measurement tools can be tricky as well. If you're counting calories based on labels, they can be off by up to 50%. We all absorb different amounts of food. So, for example, just because we both eat an apple, doesn't mean you are absorbing as much sugar from the apple as I am. In the same framework, if we both run one mile, our calorie burn difference can be anywhere between 3-45% different. If all of this wasn't enough, the diets and exercise you have done in the past can effect how you body reacts to a diet and exercise now. 

If you think researching nutrition is tough, reporting on it is even harder. Journalism is based around sensationalizing the news - you know this, think about all the bad stuff you see on TV on a regular basis. In journalism school, they teach you, "If it bleeds, it leads." The same goes for nutrition news. What's going to get your attention more? A study that says "Only those with specific health parameters react poorly to eating red meat" OR "Red meat is killing you." Journalists can, unfortunately, over-emphasize things to make them interesting, flat out misunderstand a study, or don't look at the bigger picture and purpose of a single study. It's not their fault, they're trying to help but it's important to read multiple sources from multiple perspectives to get a better idea of what is really true. 

Lastly, your nutrition is personalized to you. There is no cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all method that will work for everyone. What worked for your best friend, might not work for you. This is because you have unique genetics that make you body react differently to different foods. In addition to this, there are a wide range of variables that can effect how you body processes food - how much you sleep, how much water you drink, what type of food you eat, how stressed you are, how much you exercise, any allergies you have, etc.  

Maybe eating red meat doesn't actually work for you. Maybe eating broccoli hurts your stomach. There are a lot of different factors that make up your perfect nutrition. Read everything with a grain of salt, ask for help when you need it, and don't feel like you have to do whatever diet plan is popular right now (because there's a chance it won't be around in 5 years).

 

 

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Lack of Sleep - Is It Making You Fat?

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Lack of Sleep - Is It Making You Fat?

When it comes to sleep, we've all heard how we need to get 8 hours every night. But what if I told you that you could lose weight just by getting enough sleep at night? Or that your lack of sleep is creating those sugar cravings you're fighting?

Being groggy in the morning and stressed out might not be the only side effects of getting poor sleep. 

A few nights of poor sleep can lead to a host of problems, including:

  1. Impaired insulin sensitivity - Just one night of poor or missed sleep can make you as insulin resistant as a type 2 diabetic. Fortunately you can un-do these effects by getting back on track with good sleep, proper nutrition, and exercise, but the effects on glucose tolerance are nearly immediate. 
  2. Cravings - When you get poor sleep, it turns out you're less likely to make good choices to help you get back on track. Sleep deprivation is a stress, and when a stress becomes regular (aka you always only get 4 hours of sleep), one of the first things our bodies do to adapt is to seek out food, particularly processed food. We also tend to have less willpower to resist these foods. And this adaptation isn't only reserved for poor food choices - anything that may tempt you is made more appealing when you're sleep deprived. 
  3. Increased gut permeability - When your gut permeability is increased, it means that you body is able to absorb more into the blood stream than it might regularly. This impairs insulin sensitivity while increasing our reactivity to certain food. Hello, blood sugar spikes. 
  4. Increased systemic inflammation - Even with the occurrence of little sleep loss, C-reactive proteins have a tendency to increase, which causes platelets to stick together (not good if you're at risk for heart attack). Inflammation causes a lot of problems which you can read more about here, but it's been documented that increased rates of Western diseases coincide with poor sleep habits. 
  5. Impaired immune function - Even short periods of poor sleep loss and increase our likelihood of infection. As we all know, getting sick doesn't typically lead to the best eating habits.
  6. Altered anabolic hormones - Whether you're male or female, having your hormones at adequate levels is important for overall health. Sleep debt tends to shift us towards "catabolic," meaning that your body breaks down tissue. Want to lose muscle and gain fat? Don't sleep.
  7. Cognitive impairment - While this has nothing to do with your nutrition, it can't be looked over. Impairing your brain function ranges from not remembering your drive to work in the morning, daydreaming a bit too much, or not being able to focus due to brain fog. 

Sleep is important, and if you're missing it, you can expect to see some negative health effects. Sleep allows our bodies to heal and recovery, especially our brains - which we rely on for approximately 35,000 decisions per day. Damaged tissues through normal wear and tear are repaired. We release anti-aging hormones such as growth hormone and melatonin during sleep. Inflammation is given an opportunity to relax and recover. 

Stop wearing your sleep loss as a badge of honor. Take care of yourself, prioritize your sleep, and watch the results take place. 

Some quick tips for making it a priority:

  1. During the day, get some sun to get adequate vitamin D. It's important for creating a regular cycle. Our bodies are smart, let it know when it's day and time to be alert and when it's night. 
  2. Make your evening dark and tech-free (as much as possible). Make sure it's dark where you sleep without distracting lights (phones, power signals, etc).
  3. Sleep in a cool room. Studies show that optimal sleeping temperature is 64-66 degrees F
  4. Make a consistent schedule and stick to it. Get to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time.
  5. Make sure your blood sugar is stable. Good food and good sleep go together hand in hand to keep you strong, health, and lean. Don't eat immediately before bed to avoid sugar in blood sugar, but also don't eat too far ahead of bed to avoid being hungry and have low blood sugar. Plus, if our blood sugar drops too long in the middle of the night, we can wake up due to the release of cortisol, which is trying to bring our blood glucose back up. 

Looking to lose a little extra weight? Get some sleep.
Trying to perform your best in the gym? Get some sleep.
Working out really hard to reach your goals? Get some sleep.
Stressed out and cravings junk food? Get some sleep.
Seriously, just get some sleep. 

 

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Nutrition & Training Log - Week 7

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Nutrition & Training Log - Week 7

For this week, I didn't measure anything. I didn't touch the food scale once all week. Instead I used a much more tangible way to measure food to ensure I was getting adequate portions for everything, in addition to eating according to hunger (intuitive eating). 

This is something that comes in handy for a lot of clients who aren't interested in measuring their food, worrying about eyeballing what a tablespoon actually looks like, and for people with hectic schedules who don't have time to concern themselves with how many grams of carbohydrates are in that sweet potato. 

Here's roughly what a meal looks like for me personally:

Courtesy of Precision Nutrition

Courtesy of Precision Nutrition

Please please please note that this is not right for everyone. This is specific for me, based on my gender for one thing, but also my body type, my goals for results long-term, optimizing performance, and the type of training I do. But this is simple - I can look at my hands at any point to make a size comparison, and I'm done. 

This can be customized for anyone, so if this sounds like it might be helpful for you to achieve a better nutrition plan without touching macros or a food scale, let me know.

So this week you won't see any measurements like ounces, tablespoons, or cups in accordance to my food. You can assume that everything is based off of these types of measures. 

Last week I did heavy leg workouts and I was HUNGRY. My legs were hungry. So sometimes I had more carbs to help refuel and recover them. Just to give you a small update, I've gained approximately another 0.5 lb of muscle in the last two weeks due to my training, which has been heavily leg-based. 

Monday 8/28

Meal 1:
3 eggs
1 cup green grapes

Meal 2:
Chicken
Mushrooms
Olive oil

Meal 3:
Pork chop
Kale
Corn

Meal 4:
Ice cream (Because I can)

Tuesday 8/29

Meal 1: 
3 eggs
1 cup strawberries

Training:
Front Squats 7x3

15 min AMRAP:
50 Double unders
25 cal bike
15 Hang Squat Clean 15# DB's

Meal 2:
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 scoop SFH Recovery chocolate

Meal 3:
Chicken salad - chicken breast, onion, grapes, olive oil mayo
Banana

Training:
2.5 mile run - Wash Park

Meal 4:
Chicken breast
Olive oil
Baby carrots

Meal 5:
Noosa - Raspberry

Wednesday 8/30

Meal 1:
2 cups Silk Yogurt vanilla
1 cup strawberries

Meal 2:
1/2 cup white rice
3 eggs

Meal 3:
Sushi - 2 California rolls, 1 Philadelphia roll

Meal 4:
Chicken breast
Seaweed salad
Olive oil

Thursday 8/31

Meal 1:
Noosa - Raspberry
3 eggs
Coffee

Training: 
Apex Enchated Forest - 7 mile run

Meal 2:
Chicken
Baby carrots
Apple

Training:
5 rounds:
Min 1 - 10 Wall balls
Min 2 - 10 Slam balls
Min 3 - 45 sec pull up hang
Min 4 - Back squats 65#

Meal 3:
Perfect bar Peanut butter

Meal 4:
Chicken
Rice
Broccoli
Tofu Sausage

Friday 9/1

Meal 1:
3 eggs
Kale

Training:
25 cal bike

25-20-15-10-5
Row calories
GHD Hip extensions
GHS Sit ups

50 cal bike

Meal 2:
Apple cider vinegar
1 scoop SFH Recovery Chocolate

Meal 3:
Chicken breast
Olive oil mayonnaise
Celery, Onion, Cranberries

Saturday 9/2

Meal 1:
3 eggs
Red grapes

Meal 2:
Chicken breast
Brussels sprouts
White rice

Meal 3:
Gluten free pizza - Sausage, pepperoni

Sunday 9/3

Meal 1:
3 eggs
Oui French style yogurt
Red grapes

Meal 2:
Chicken salad - Chicken breast, olive oil mayo, celery, onion
Arugula
Red grapes

Meal 3:
Bunless burger - Beef, lettuce, mayo, ketchup
Fries

 

 

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Are Detox Diets Good for You?

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Are Detox Diets Good for You?

We all know someone who just got off their latest juice cleanse or detox program. Whether you've tried one yourself or are considering doing one, the big question is simple: Are detox diets actually good for you and do they have good results?

Detox has become a buzzword in the media. You see it on social media, on TV, and your friends will use the terms, even some "trainers" will push these fads. Despite a lack of scientific support, "detoxifying" diets have taken some new forms to include certain foods, special juices, "detox teas," colonics, and supplements. Some promote fasting as part of the cleanse/detox, but not all. The one thing they all have in common to remove and clean your body of toxins.

But what the heck are "toxins" anyways?

Toxins, are by definition, small molecules, peptides, or proteins capable of causing disease on contact with body tissues. They range greatly in their severity. For instance, a bee sting is a toxin. 

Almost everything we encounter in a toxin, however. And some of them are actually really good for us. In small amounts, many toxins can be processed easily through our body's natural process and benefit us. 

For instance:

Vitamin A: Over-consuming Vitamin A can lead to headaches, drowsiness, and anorexia. However, it's vital for the health on your vision.

Vitamin B: If you get too much Vitamin B, you'll decrease the function of your liver and brain, but in normal amounts, it helps us convert food into energy (super important).

Phytochemicals: These are found naturally in plants, and can be toxic to the liver, kidney, and intestines, However, normal amounts of phytochemical are celebrated for their anti-cancer and health promoting abilities. 

Glucosinolates: These are found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and boy chop. They're high in sulfur-containing chemicals and have been shown to hyperthyroidism. IN reasonable amounts, they are extremely healthy for you and promote health.

Sugar: Too much sugar can becomes toxic as it increases sugar and triglycerides present in the blood stream. However, sugar is an important form of energy in our body.

Alcohol: Heavy drinking can lead to a variety of health issues (read more here), but generally can be enjoyed daily without negative repercussions. 

Even if you're eating a pretty healthy diet, you're likely getting some of these (and other) toxins introduced to your system. But here's the thing - our body was designed to "cleanse" itself. Some of our detoxification organs include our digestive tract, kidneys, skin, lungs, liver, lymphatic system, and respiratory system. These systems break down toxins and eliminate them from our body through excretion, sweat, and breathing. So why does anyone need to detox further?

One of the common reasons is that people don't feel their lifestyle is as balanced and healthy as they would like it to be. This could be due to medication, lack of sleep, using chemicals on their skin, not getting enough physical activity, overconsumption of alcohol, smoking, eating poorly, etc. They're not wrong. These factors can lead to not only a higher level of toxins in the body, but a decreased ability to eliminate toxins naturally and higher risk for disease. 

The detox concept if that you can give the body a break. Let it relax. Give it a fresh start. But this logic ignores an important resolution: The best way to "detox" your body is to ramp up your natural detoxification systems and take good care or them for the long-term. 

Many detox diets and cleanses actually do the opposite of this. According to Dr. Alan Logan, “Fasting and low protein diets are counter-productive because our main detox organ, the liver, requires amino acids from protein (e.g. glycine, cysteine, glutamine) in order to support detoxification pathways. Since the assault of man-made chemicals in food, water and our environment never lets up, we need daily detoxification, not some sort of spring cleaning with harsh remedies once per year.” 

He goes on to say: “Since many of our toxins find themselves in the gastrointestinal tract, a good daily intake of fiber can help bind them up for elimination. Probiotics, live beneficial bacteria such as that found in yogurt, can also — day in and day out — help to transform toxic compounds in the gut and prevent their absorption.” 

Now, don't get me wrong... Not everyone ding detoxes is in it for grand health benefits. They just want to lose weight, and in particular body fat. Sorry to break it to you, detoxing to lose body fat does not work.

Let's say that even if you do detox yourself of all the negative toxins in your body, it doesn't facilitate fat loss. Many people will experience a drop in weight, but it's because they are empty. The body is able to loss water weight, carbohydrate stores, and intestinal bulk in short periods of time. You'll see it come back a few hours as the cleanse ends, because your body can't stay empty forever. 

Not all concepts of a detox diet are bad. I'm going to do due diligence in saying that detoxes may actually encourage you to eat more nutritious foods, such as lemon juice, green tea, more fruits and vegetables - and all of these things are good for you. However, doing this every day of the year instead of 3 days of the year would benefit you a lot more.

Now come some negatives of detox diets:

  1. They're inconvenient. We have busy lives and not eating anything except your juice cleanse for three days might make for some stressful days. Whether it's convenient to put a supplement in water for your cleanse, or you're required to juice 15 pounds of vegetables, it's going to throw you out of your normal routine.
  2. They're low in energy. Most detoxes are low in calories. Many people argue that doing cleanses and detoxes is just a way to starve yourself and have justification for it. With lower energy needs being met, people experience feeling colder, feeling sluggish, slow, and digestion takes longer. 
  3. They swing the pendulum too far. Many people look towards a detox as a way to find moderation after binging too hard on bad food. But is this really moderation or are you starving yourself now and probably going to relapse back to eating poorly once your detox is done because you're starving?
  4. This leads to the next point of bad food relationships and potentially eating disorders. By creating restrictions and deprivation, you might binge the day before your cleanse and/or afterwards. The result is that you're never able to find the middle ground, learn to prepare real food and meals that are nutritious for you, and you're always all-in or all-out.
  5. Some detoxes actually contain toxins. If a detox contains things like celery and beets, those vegetables contain nitrates. Nitrates which promote vasodilation. Dilated blood vessel can lead to bad headaches/migraines. Now you have toxins in your system that you didn't have before and a killer headache. 
  6. They can slow down your digestive system and GI tract. When juice cleanses contain very little fiber, it negatively effects your intestines. Fiber works as a street sweeper to keep our intestines cleaned out and without good GI tract health, we won't be able to absorb nutrients as well. 
  7. They can cause electrolyte imbalances. When you eat lots of vegetables/juices and very little salt, your body has to work double time to balance your electrolytes. This can create problems both while you're on the detox, as well as once you start eating normally. It's a well-documented phenomenon called refeeding syndrome

You can make the judgement call here on whether the risks of detoxes are worth the rewards. Putting this type of stress on your body can be dangerous and it's important to notice the warning signs early and seek help if needed. The best way to create a nutrition plan that practices moderation is to first learn your weakness and what you're succeptible to, then create a process around changing that way of thinking to prepare healthy meals, eat lots of whole foods, and support your body in performing its' natural detoxification process for the rest of your life, not just a day or two. 

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Mindset & How It Effects Your Nutrition

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Mindset & How It Effects Your Nutrition

When we think about our nutrition, we don't always consider the way in which our headspace can effect our success or failures. 

In recent years, the concepts of fixed and growth mindsets have become popular in several industries for introducing a consciousness in the way we function.

So, do you have a fixed mindset, a growth mindset, or a mix of both? And what does it matter anyways?

A fixed mindset belongs to someone who believes that their qualities are carved in stone - they can't be changed. They have a certain personality, as certain skillset, etc. and they feel that they need to prove themselves over and over again. 

Here's some of the questions you might ask yourself in a fixed mindset:
Will I fail or succeed? 
Will I look smart or dumb?
Will I be accepted or rejected?
Will I feel like a winner or a loser?

In the fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome. If you fail, or you're not the best at something, it's all been a waste. Sometimes these traits develop early in our life.  Here's an example:

Let's say you give a child a puzzle and they solve it quickly. They're told that they're so smart for figuring it out! They receive praise and then they understand that they're smart. Rather than try harder puzzles, the child may continue to do that same puzzle or puzzles of similar difficulty, because if they are unable to do a harder one, they will be showing that they weren't as smart as originally perceived. 

This mindset says that the more effort that is put into something, the less valued you are as a person. Effort is the opposite of talent from this perspective, and effort is not something that is rewarded. 

So if you're worried about trying new things, whether it's talking to strangers at an event where you don't know anyone, attempting a new sport, giving a public speech, or avoiding confrontation in a relationship because it's uncomfortable - that's your fixed mindset talking. 

On the other end of the spectrum is the growth mindset. This mindset is based on a concept that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts, your strategies, and help from others. In other words, you can learn to do better at everything in your life. We all differ in lots of ways (talents, interests, beliefs) but we can all grow through application and experience. 

The growth mindset allows people to value what they're doing regardless of the outcome. They learn from their failures to actively build upon them for next time. They aren't eternal optimists necessarily, but they understand that their true potential is unknowable without some effort. 

The growth mindset creates a passion for learning. Someone in the fixed mindset might say "Why waste time proving over and over how great you are at something?" when a growth mindset might say "But how can I get better?"

Here's a great example of this from Carol Dweck:

Imagine you are a young adult having a really bad day: You go to class that is really important to you and that you like a lot. The professor returns the midterm papers to the class. You got a C+. You’re very disappointed. That evening on the way back to your home, you find that you’ve gotten a parking ticket. Being really frustreated, you call your best friend to share your experience but are sort of brushed off.

What would you think? What would you feel? What would you do?

Here’s how people in fixed mindset responded:
”I’d feel like a reject.”
”I’m a total failure.”
”Life is unfair and all efforts are useless.”
”I wouldn’t bother to out so much time and effort into doing well in that class.”
”I’d stay in bed and eat chocolate.”

Here’s how the growth mindset people responded:
”I need to try harder in class, be more careful when parking the car and wonder if my friend had a bad day.”
”The C+ would tell me that I’d have to work harder in the class, but I have the rest of the semester to pull up my grade.”
”I’d look at what was wrong on my exam, resolve to do better, pay my parking ticket, and call my friend to tell her I was upset the day before.”

Okay, so now you might have an idea of where you lie on the spectrum. Remember, you can be a little of both mindset types. You might be more of a fixed mindset when it comes to politics, but more of a growth concept when it comes to your relationships. 

This relates to everything in our lives - relationships, business, school, parenting, and yes.. even our nutrition. 

When it comes to how we eat, we're often learning a new way of doing so in everything related to it. It's possible you're learning a new healthy way of eating after having been taught one thing your entire life. It's also possible you're learning how to cook healthy. You might be learning to how food prep. How to eat the right things at the right time. The list is endless, right?

Whether you're just starting out learning more about proper nutrition or you're an elite athlete who is fine-tuning their nutrition regimen, you're constantly learning and adjusting. But what if you have a fixed mindset when it comes to the way you eat, your cooking routine, your method for prepping and storing food, always have a yogurt in the morning, etc? 

The truth is, you probably struggle with your nutrition.

You feel like a failure when it doesn't go well. You feel lost and confused. You feel overwhelmed with the information.

So how we change our mindset?

First off, you need to believe that you can change. Remember that you are always learning and therefore having a mindset that allows you to fail, will ultimately allow you to grow and become better over time. Even if you set out to do something and fail, you will likely learn something in the process. If you choose to try again, great - now you have some beta information on yourself for completing that task. If you decide not to try again, it'll probably provide insight into you and something else you'll do in your lifetime. 

Secondly, embrace your fixed mindset. We all have it. By recognizing its presence, we can acknowledge it and make a conscious effort to move away from it, rather than letting it wreak havoc on our life. Be aware of triggers that bring our your fixed mindset. Maybe it's when you consider taking on a new challenge, when you're confronted in your romantic relationship you shut down, or when you encounter someone who is better in your industry than you

Lastly, learn from it and make a plan. The fixed mindset's purpose to protect you and keep you safe, but it often develops some limiting ways of doing so. Now it's time to educate it and take it along with you for a ride. Show yourself that a fixed mindset can allow you to take on new challenges and stick to them, bounce back from failure, and support others to grow. 

Here's a specific way to make changes in your nutrition. Find an example of something you need to do, something you need to learn about, or a problem you need to confront regarding your nutrition. Now make a concrete plan. When will you follow through with your plan? Where will you do it? How will you do it? Think about it in as much detail as possible. Visualizing your plan will lead to high levels of follow-through, which leads to high rates of success. 

"Tomorrow, when I wake up I'm going to drink a full glass of water to kick start my hydration for the day."

"Sunday, I'm going to set aside 2 hours in the afternoon to go to the grocery store and cook chicken for the week and place it in containers for easy access."

Having a growth mindset is vital for creating success in your nutrition, no matter how complicated your journey currently is. If you've ever tried a nutrition plan or challenge, you know there can be a big learning curve. Practice makes your nutrition better, but it never has to be perfect. As you take the approach to learn over time, you'll become the best version of yourself through practice. 

 

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Nutrition & Training Log - Week 6

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Nutrition & Training Log - Week 6

2 weeks til Imogene and I'm picking up the pace with running and workouts until the week prior to the race.

No big notes or revelations this week, just lots of work getting done. 

In the coming weeks I'm going to stop measuring my food and use more tangible means of measurement to show a different way of eating, while still getting quality foods without a scale/measuring cup being involved. 

Monday 8/21

Meal 1:
3 eggs
1/2 avocado

Training:
Reverse tabata - Assault bike (10 seconds work, 20 seconds rest) for max calories

15 Burpees, 14 cals on bike, 13 burpees, 12 cals on bike.... all the way down

Meal 2:
5 oz Italian sausage meat sauce (Homemade - Italian sausage, tomato sauce, garlic, onion, herbs)
1 cup rice pasta
4 oz Green apple
2 Tbsp peanut butter

Meal 3:
5 oz steak
3 oz potatoes
3 oz mushrooms

Tuesday 8/22

Meal 1:
3 eggs
Banana
Fast Lane tea

Meal 2:
1 cup rice pasta
6 oz Italian sausage meat sauce

Training:
4 rounds:
1 minute Hip extensions
1 minute Handstand weight shifts
1 minute Box jumps 20"
1 minute Burpees
1 minute Rest

Meat 3:
5 oz Gala apple
1 scoop SFH Recovery chocolate

Meal 4:
Perfect Bar 

Meal 5:
5 oz steak
3 oz green beans
3 oz mushrooms

Wednesday 8/23

Meal 1:
3 eggs
4 oz mushrooms

Meal 2:
Perfect Bar
Coffee

Training:
3 mile run - North Table Loop (partial)

9 min AMRAP:
7 Push press
25 Double unders

Meal 3:
1 tsp Apple cider vinegar
1 cup rice pasta
6 oz Italian sausage meat sauce

Meal 4:
3 eggs
4 oz strawberries

Thursday 8/24

Meal 1:
3 eggs
3 oz mushrooms
4 oz potatoes
Coffee

Training:
4.2 miles Galbraith Mountain

Meal 2:
Cliff Bar - White chocolate macadamia
5 oz Granny Smith Apple

Training:
“Village People”
AMRAP 5
50/35 Calorie Row
AMRAP Macho Man (135/95)

rest 5:00

AMRAP 5
35/25 Calorie Row
AMRAP Macho Man (155/105)

rest 5:00

AMRAP 5
20/15 Calorie Row
AMRAP Macho Man (185/135)

“Macho Man” – 3 Power Cleans, 3 Front Squats, 3 Push Jerks

Meal 3:
Sushi - 3 California rolls, 1 Philadelphia roll 

Friday 8/25

Meal 1:
3 eggs
4 oz mushrooms

Meal 2:
1 cup rice pasta
6 oz Italian sausage meat sauce

Meal 3:
5 oz Gala apple

Meal 4:
5 oz steak
5 oz brussels sprouts

Saturday 8/26

Meal 1:
3 eggs

Meal 2:
3 eggs
3 oz mushrooms

Training:
6 miles bike ride

Meal 3:
Tacos (2) - Steak, white onion, avocado, lime, tortillas 

Meal 4:
2 Craft beers
1 cup green grapes

Sunday 8/27

Meal 1:
3 eggs
1 cup green grapes

Meal 2:
Steak stew (homemade) - Steak, white rice, Brussels sprouts, onion

Meal 3:
Pork chop
Chopped and sautéed onion, mushroom, kimchi

 

 

 

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Revisiting Alcohol - Should I Cut It?

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Revisiting Alcohol - Should I Cut It?

At some point in your health journey, you may have asked yourself, "Should I cut out alcohol to reach my goals?"

For those of us who do consume alcohol, we likely consider ourselves moderate drinkers. We have a drink at the end of a long day, socially with friends, or a glass of wine with dinner.

We'll be diving into what alcohol quantity recommendations exist, some health side effects of drinking, as well as debunk some myths surrounding drinking. 

There comes a point where we start to become informed about our health decisions, and we have to face the elephant in the room - should I be drinking alcohol? Am I maybe drinking too much? Would it make a difference if I stopped?

The answer isn't exactly straight forward. You may have even heard that drinking certain alcohol is good for you. There's always an article popping up on social media that reads "Drinking red wine has the same benefits as exercising" or "Red wine prevents heart disease" or something of that nature. To be fair, studies exist that show how drinkers actually outlive non-drinkers

On the other hand, health experts recommend that if you don't currently drink, not to start. 

"But studies show I will live longer and prevent diseases!"

There's no way to know if drinking is actually healthy for all of us. This is because mostof the research on the potenial benefit of alcohol are large, long-term epidemiological studies. This type of research is unable to prove anything. Instead of being able to say that drinking causes health, they are able to say the drinking seems to be correlated with health. It could be that drinking beverages like wine contain antioxidants that ward of cancer. It could that alcohol consumption raises HDL (good cholesterol). It could be that consuming alcohol reduces stress. But there's no way of know what it might be, or if these things really make a difference for health benefits. 

For those who drink, they couldhave other lifestyle factors that lead to better overall health, such as connected social circles for support, a lower stress lifestyle, certain personality traits, etc. 

You hear it all the time - everything in moderation. So when it comes to drinking, what does moderation actually look like?

According to the United States Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, "moderate drinking" means that, on average:

  • For men: up to 14 drinks per week, with no more than 4 drinks on any given day
  • For women: up to 7 drinks per week, with no more than 3 drinks on any given day 

For these guidelines, here's what "a drink" looks like for different types of alcohol:

Photo courtesy of Precision Nutrition

Photo courtesy of Precision Nutrition

Right now you're probably thinking, "Okay, so I'm not a binge drinker, perfect!"

But when was the last time you measured off your glass or wine, or used a shot glass to pour a cocktail? Are you accounting for those high ABV Colorado beers into your count? Better yet, when was the last time you tallied all your drinks for the week?

Research shows that people routinely underestimate their alcohol consumption, and sometimes they do so drastically. It might surprise you how easy it is to creep into the category of "heavy drinker" without realizing it. 

Let's say you're a woman. Three days of the week, you come home and have a glass of wine after work, because you worked hard and you're unwinding. This put you in the moderate drinker category. Come Friday, a co-worker invites you out for happy hour, and it's been a rough week so you go and have two drinks - one martini (with 3 shots) followed by a light beer. Now you're in the range of a moderately heavy drinker. On Saturday evening, it's your birthday or a friend's birthday, so at dinner you indulge in a gin and tonic and a couple glasses of wine. Now you're well in the category of heavy drinker. 

It happens pretty quickly, even without "binge-ing,' which is categorized as women drinking 4 drinks within two hours, and men drinking 5 drinks within two hours. 

This becomes important since there are well-defined health risked related to heavy drinking habits, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney disease
  • Heart disease
  • Chemical dependence (alcoholism)
  • Depression
  • Neurological damage
  • Epilepsy
  • Dementia 
  • Sleep disruption
  • Lowered immune response
  • Cancer
  • Increased Inflammation
  • Hormone disruption
  • Impaired sexual and reproduction function
  • Thyroid disease
  • Breast cancer (even in moderate drinkers)
  • Fatty liver

And this doesn't even begin to cover the health issues directly related to metabolism (and therefore weight loss, aesthetics, and performance) which include weight gain, stalled weight loss, loss of bone density, osteoporosis, changes to fat metabolism, and muscle damage. 

We all know that alcohol is technically poison in our bodies, but it's fun, right? We enjoy it. We drink socially and it's often relaxing. I'm not here to tell you to stop drinking or scare you away from it. 

Drinking can promote creativity, social connection, leisure, and pleasure. A good rule of thumb is that if you're going to drink, do it because you genuinely enjoy it- not because you're stressed, it's a habit, because other people are drinking, and certainly not because a study said "it's good for you."

The choice to consume alcohol is an individual one. It's less about healthy or not healthy, and more about trade-off's. Think of it like this: saying "yes" to something means saying "no" to something else:

  • Saying "yes" to six-pack abs might mean saying "no" to a few drinks at the bar. 
  • Saying "yes" to happy hour might mean saying "no" to your workout the next morning. 
  • Saying "yes" to getting solid and sound sleep might mean saying "no" to indulging in wine with dinner.
  • Saying "yes" to moderate drinking might mean saying "no" to stress triggers in your life.

How might you implement a well-balanced approach to alcohol for your life? Ask yourself a few questions...

Is my drinking urgent or mindless? This might mean that drinking has become habitual.
Are there patterns to my drinking? For instance, over-doing it on Friday nights. 
Is alcohol helping me or stressing me out? Feel guilty or stressed the next day due to drinking, then reassess.
Does alcohol bring out the worst parts of you? Might be time to cut back if your mood changes, or you do things you wouldn't do sober, like texting your ex. 

In terms of athletic performance and reaching goals, consider these questions:

Do I generally feel good? This is so simple, yet so telling of whether alcohol is serving us well or not.
Am I recovering properly? After the gym as well as following drinking.
How does my body react to drinking? Hungover, headache, upset stomach, bloating, etc.
Is alcohol adding extra calories to my body? This is especially important when trying to lose weight.

When it comes to alcohol, consider what you're currently saying "yes" to and what you're currently saying "no" to. What, if anything, might you being willing to change? What are you prepared to say "yes" or "no" to, and why? There aren't any right or wrong answers, but it's important to recognize the compromises (temporary or permanent) that you can make to progress in your personal health journey. 

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Nutrition & Training Log - Week 5

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Nutrition & Training Log - Week 5

We've all been there. 

Life gets busy. Work piles up. You have a trip planned that you need to prepare for. You get sick or run down feeling. And something has to suffer. Usually it's our nutrition or our training. It gets easy to put it on the back burner while you try to stay afloat through everything else. 

Your nutritionist/coach doesn't have those moments, right? 

Wrong. It really does happen to us all. This week, it was my training. Nutrition stayed pretty on point. I always make a point to keep it together, especially while camping. 

 

Monday 8/14

Meal 1:
3 eggs
Banana

Meal 2:
3 eggs

Meal 3:
4 oz chicken
4 oz green beans
3 oz potato

Meal 4:
5 oz steak
1/2 cup mashed potatoes
1/2 cup brown gravy

Tuesday 8/15

Meal 1:
3 eggs
4 oz gala apple
Coffee

Meal 2:
6 oz ground beef meat sauce (Homemade - tomato sauce, ground beef, garlic, onion, herbs)
1 cup rice pasta

Meal 3:
Banana

Meal 4:
6 oz ground beef meat sauce (Homemade - tomato sauce, ground beef, garlic, onion, herbs)
1 cup rice pasta

Wednesday 8/16

Meal 1:
3 eggs
4 oz strawberries
Fast Lane Tea

Meal 2:
5 oz Gala apple

Training:
4 rounds, perform every 5 minutes:
200 m farmers carry (left) DB 25 lb
12 front squats (left)
200 m farmers carry (right)
12 front squats (right)

2000m row
100 cal air assault bike

Meal 3:
1/4 cup fruit mix 0 peaches, pineapple, chia
1 scoop SFH Recovery Chocolate

Meal 4:
5 oz chicken
4 oz brussels sprouts

Thursday 8/17

Meal 1:
10.5 oz Silk Almond yogurt vanilla flavor
3/4 cup strawberries

Meal 2:
4 oz chicken breast
1 Tbsp ketchup
Banana

Training:
12 min AMRAP:
1 min squat hold 12 kg KB
10 broad jumps
20 walking lunges

Meal 3:
Latte (Session Coffee)
4 oz chicken
4 oz brussels sprouts

Meal 4:
4 oz Ground beef meat sauce
1 cup Rice pasta

Friday 8/19

Meal 1:
3 eggs
2 oz broccoli

Meal 2:
3 oz chicken
2 oz white rice

Meal 3:
Bunless burger - 1/4 lb ground beef, lettuce, american cheese

Meal 4:
Homemade tuna poke bowl - 8 oz tuna, avocado, sesame seeds, sesame oil

Saturday 8/20

Meal 1:
High Line Coffee
1/2 PowerBar

Meal 2:
1/2 Turkey Bacon Ranch Pita
1/2 Italian Sandwich
1/2 cup french fries

Meal 3:
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 cup white rice with herbs
4 oz brussels sprouts

Sunday 8/21

Meal 1:
3 eggs
4 oz potatoes
1/2 lb ground beef

Meal 2:
5 oz Gala apple

Meal 3:
6 oz steak
1/2 avocado w/ balsamic vinegar

 

 

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Calorie Counting - Why It's More Complicated Then Calories In, Calories Out

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Calorie Counting - Why It's More Complicated Then Calories In, Calories Out

Macro counting has become popular in recent years, but with it comes its own unique challenges and inadequacies. You might have seen some impressive before and after photos of clients who are counting macros and lose weight, see drastic transformations, or get ripped. It works for some people, but not everyone. 

This blog is focused on detailing the problem around counting calories, and why it's not always the best option. Full disclosure - I have clients who count calories. They love it and see great results. But I also have clients who do not count calories and still see great results. Counting calories is a big commitment that is not conducive to everyone's lifestyle. 

As a quick background, counting macros and calories means that you are counting and measuring all of your food intake throughout the day to hit certain goal numbers. Your macros are determined based on your weight, muscle mass, and activity level, as well as your body type and goals. For instance, those who are looking to lose weight won't eat the same as someone who is trying to gain muscle. The program is extremely personalized to determine how much of each macro (protein, carbohydrates, fat) you should be eating to reach your goals.

  1. Calorie counts can vary. When counting macros and calories, you become very familiar with reading food labels to find out what is in your food. Even if you're not looking at food labels, you're using an application to determine what macros are in your bacon (for instance). However, the calories on food labels and in these databases are averages. Research shows that the calories of the food you're actually eating can vary greatly with up to 50% error. Five different measurement methods exist for determining calorie estimation, and therefore the FDA permits up to 20% inaccuracy. This means that if the label says you're getting 100 calories, you're actually getting somewhere between 80-120 calories.
  2. We don't absorb everything we eat. Not all food we eat gets absorbed into our body. It actually varies from food to food, and scientists have known this for years. It's pretty common knowledge that 1 gram of protein contains 4 calories, 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories, and 1 gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories, right? What if I told you that 1 gram of protein actually contains 5.65 calories, but we don't absorb 1.65 of them? It's true for all of the macros actually, and looks like this:


That isn't all. This doesn't apply to nuts and seeds, because we actually absorb fewer calories from them. For instance, we only absorb 68% of almonds and 95% of pistachios. When it comes to food high in fiber, we tend to absorb more than what's calculated. For example, We absorb 28% more calories from kale, 12% more from oranges, and 15% more from black beans. Similarly, we are able to absorb more calories from protein-rich foods that accounted for in those calculations. All in all, this means you're looking at around a 10% error in calorie consumption on average

3. We all absorb food differently. Depending on the type of bacteria in your gut, you may absorb more or less energy. Those with larger populations of Bacteroidetes (a species of bacteria) tend to absorb more energy as these bacteria are better at extracting calories from the cells of plants than other bacteria. Those who have a larger popular of Firmicutes (another specific of bacteria) can absorb an additional 150 calories per day, and these people often have weight maintenance issues. 

4. Energy out varies a lot from person to person. We've covered how the calories you're taking in might be hard to calculate, but what about how much energy you're expending on a daily basis? There are four important pieces to this puzzle:
Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) - RMR is the number of calories you burn on a daily basis through just surviving - breathing, living, and maintaining basic bodily functions. It represents approximately 60% of your "energy out" and is determined based on your weight, age, genetic dispositions, and possibly your gut bacteria. RMR typically increases with body weight. For instance, someone who weighs 150 lbs might have a RMR of 1583 calories per day and someone who weighs 150 lbs might have a RMR of 2164 calories per day. However, RMR can vary up to 15% from person to person, even if they have the same weight without expending any more or less effort. 
Thermic Effect of Eating (TEE) - Digestion is an active metabolic process that requires energy. Every had the "meat sweats"? That's TEE. TEE represents the amount of calories you burn through eating, digesting, and processing food. It's roughly 5-10% of your total "energy out." It require more energy to digest protein (~20-30% of its calories) than it does to digest carbs (5-6%) and fat (3%).
Physical Activity (PA) - This is where we commonly thing about energy output in our lives. It's how many calories you burned while running a mile or swimming a few laps. The only way to change this output is through physical movement and moving more.
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) - NEAT is the amount of calories you burn due to activity that is not considered exercise but burns a significant amount of energy. This includes holding yourself upright, fidgetting, walking, doing a sit up in bed in the morning, etc. This naturally varies from person to person as well. 
So here's the entire energy out equation:

So, while energy in and energy out sounds very simple, it can become very difficult to actually know not only how many calories you are consuming, but how many you are burning. Therefore, putting yourself in a deficit or gain can become complicated by following a calorie number solely. Here's the entire equation:

In addition to all of this, your body can often outsmart you. When you lower your energy intake, your body can naturally decrease its energy out to compensate for the loss of energy. Likewise, as you begin to increase your calorie intake, it may begin to burn more calories throughout the day.

All of these components to energy intake and energy expenditure create a complicated equation for determining that you're getting adequate macronutrients, calories and still creating change in your body. There are, of course, other ways to measure your food to ensure you're getting what you need to reach your goals outside of counting calories and macros. 

I also want to take a moment to discuss some of the dangers of macro counting as they have become more and more prevalent in the fitness community as the program has become more popular over the past few years. 

As far as physical health goes, sometimes macros can lead to negative effects on the body, particularly for women who have sensitive hormonal systems. Female clients can be eating a solid amount of calories, hitting their goals, and losing body fat (which is a common goal for all clients), and this can occasionally lead to the loss of a menstrual cycle. Any time that a natural pathway in your body disappears, this should be a red flag that something is not right. Lower body fat percentages can lead to the body's inability to produce sex hormones in women, which are comprised of fats, and this can lead to very serious health issues. 

On the flip side, there can be some mental repercussions to counting calories. The people who usually do best counting calories are typically people with detailed-oriented mind, who are goal driven, and who have super analytic brains. They are also the people who tend to have addictive personalities with OCD tendencies, and for this reason can lead to some unhealthy habits for nutrition in the long run. As they reach their goals, they continue to push their bodies to new limits and lower calories, they become obsessed with getting their numbers perfect, and it can overtake their life in a negative way. Some people even experience that after they've decided not to count anymore, they also want to know how many calories they're eating. I think this has become a normal side effect in a society that says someone should eat XXX amount of calories daily, but gets take to a whole new level with macro counting. 

Again, this is something that I do with my clients when it is a good fit for them. But I also recommend against it for clients on occasion, and many clients move away from calorie counting as some point. Sometimes they revisit it, and sometimes they leave it behind for good. It's important to chat with someone educated in the field to make sure you're getting the most out of the plan, and that the plan isn't getting the most out of you.

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Nutrition & Training Log - Week 4

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Nutrition & Training Log - Week 4

This last week marks four weeks since I have started tracking my food and training / added a little extra in. So I decided it was time to do my third body scan to see where everything is at. Most people enjoy seeing the progress as it happens, right? 

When I started I didn't have any set goals or numbers I was hoping to reach - I was going into it goalless and I think that's okay sometimes since I wanted the behavior change to be the focus.

In four weeks, I have lost 2 pounds, I have maintained my muscle muscle (with a very slight increase), and I've lost 1.5% body fat. I'm honestly pretty happy, especially since this has all been done through eating intuitively - not counting macros, not following any specific portion guidelines, and always eating when I'm hungry. It hasn't been perfect by any stretch of the definition, but it's working and I feel really good. 

Note: It was my birthday, so I ate junk over the weekend. 

Monday 8/7

Meal 1:
6 oz Gala apple
2 eggs

Meal 2:
Raisin Bran crunch 1 cup
1 cup whole milk

Meal 3:
Cliff bar Sierra Trail Mix
1/4 peach

Meal 4:
1/2 pound ground beef 80/20
1 cup green beans
1 cup potato
1/2 cup brown gravy

Tuesday 8/8

Meal 1:
3 eggs
2 cups fruit mix - watermelon, peach, pineapple, chia seeds

Meal 2:
4 oz chicken breast
1/2 cup Raisin Bran crunch
1/2 cup whole milk

Meal 3:
Banana

Meal 4:
4 oz chicken breast
5 oz broccoli

Wednesday 8/9

Meal 1:
3 eggs

Meal 2:
5.5 oz Silk Almond Yogurt vanilla
5 oz blackberries

Training:
5 x 3 Pause squats @ 125 lb

Meal 3:
1 scoop SFH Recovery chocolate
1 tsp Apple Cider vinegar

Meal 4:
4 oz chicken breast
4 oz rice
3 oz broccoli

Meal 5:
5 oz chicken breast
5 oz brussels sprouts

Thursday 8/10

Meal 1:
3 eggs

Meal 2:
4 oz Chicken breast
4 oz Cauliflower
3 oz Gala apple
2 Tbsp Peanut butter Simple organic

Meal 3:
5.5 oz Silk Almond Yogurt vanilla
3 oz Blackberries

Meal 4:
Banana

Training:
Tabata
Row (meters)
Handstand hold
Row (meters)

Meal 5:
1 Scoop SFH Recovery chocolate
1 tsp Apple Cider vinegar

Meal 6:
4 oz chicken

Friday 8/11

Meal 1:
3 eggs
5 oz Gala apple

Training:
1 rep max Deadlifts
20 min EMOM: 1 DL @ 85%

Meal 2:
Sushi - 2 california rolls, 1 rainbow roll

Meal 3:
Larabar - Apple pie

Meal 4:
1/2 pound ground beed 80/20
1 cup potato
1/2 brown gravy
1 cup green beans
2 glasses Malbec win

Saturday 8/12

Meal 1:
3 eggs
1 biscuit

Training:
Hike/Run - Mt. Flora - 6 miles

Meal 2:
Soft shell chicken tacos - chicken, tortilla, lettuce, tomato
Fudge ice cream bar

Meal 3:
3 eggs
1 biscuit
1/2 cup hollandaise sauce
1 cup spinach

Meal 4:
Birthday cake - Funfetti with Strawberry cream cheese frosting

Sunday 8/13

Meal 1:
1 biscuit
1/2 pound breakfast sausage
1/2 cup milk
1 eggs

Meal 2:
French fries
Deviled eggs (2)

Meal 3:
Burger - Bun, ground beef, lettuce, avocado, american cheese
Potato salad
Deviled egg
French fries

 

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Nutrition & Training Log - Week 3

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Nutrition & Training Log - Week 3

This week's lesson actually comes from the previous week, and it's quite simple. 

If something hurts your stomach - STOP EATING IT! 

It seems really straight forward, right? But I can't tell you how many times I've had someone approach me to ask if they really need to consume red meat (for example) since it hurts their stomach. To clarify, "hurts your stomach" means makes you bloated, causing physical pain or cramps, gives you gas, or disrupts your digestive system in any way. Anything you have to fight through the side effects of is not serving your body well, and this is the body's way of saying "Hey! That food wasn't for me." 

For me, this is bread. And I can and do eat bread regularly, but I know that when I remove it from my diet and reintroduce it, there can and will be complications. So what are you eating that maybe you should try removing? 

Monday 7/31

Meal 1:
Banana
Red Bull Sugar Free

Training:
Hike - Mount Elbert 9 miles, 4,700 ft gain

Meal 2:
Baby Food - Apple, Orange, Spinach mix

Meal 3:
Gala apple
Luna Protein bar - chocolate chip cookie dough
Duke sausage jerky

Meal 4:
1 scoop SFH Recovery Chocolate
Cliff Bar - Sierra Trail Mix

Meal 5:
1/2 lb ground beef (80/20)
1 cup potatoes
1/2 cup brown gravy
1 cup green beans
3 Dale Pale Ale

Meal 6:
1/2 lb ground beef (80/20)
1 cup potatoes
1/2 cup brown gravy
1 cup green beans

Tuesday 8/1

Meal 1:
3 eggs
1 scoop Perfect Keto Collagen
Fast Lane tea

Meal 2:
4 oz chicken
6 oz baby carrots

Meal 3:
5 oz Gala apple
5 oz turkey breast

Meal 4: 
5 oz chicken
3 oz mushrooms
1 cup tortilla chips

Wednesday 8/2

Meal 1:
10.5 oz Silk almond yogurt vanilla flavor
4 oz blackberries

Meal 2:
Banana
1 scoop Perfect Keto Collagen

Training:
For time:
35 Front squats @ 105#
1,000m row

Meal 3:
1 tsp Apple cider vinegar
3 eggs
5 oz mushrooms
1 Tbsp olive oil

Meal 4:
5 oz Gala apple
2 Tbsp Peanut Butter (Simply Organic)

Meal 5:
6 oz chicken
3 oz mushrooms
3 oz potatoes

Thursday 8/3

Meal 1:
4 eggs
6 oz Gala apple
1 scoop Perfect Keto Collagen in coffee

Meal 2:
4.5 oz chicken
3.5 oz mushrooms
3 oz potatoes

Training:
90 sec ring push up hold
40 DB step ups 25#
30 wall balls 14#
10 box around the worlds

1 min paralette L-sit hold
30 DB step ups
20 walls balls
10 box around the worlds

20 sec ring push up hold
20 DB step ups
10 wall balls
5 box around the worlds

Meal 4:
1 scoop SFH Recovery chocolate

Meal 5:
2 8 pc California rolls - rice, seaweed, crab, avocado, celery

Friday 8/4

Meal 1:
3 oz chicken
Banana
Coffee with 1 scoop Perfect Keto Collagen

Training:
Run - Mathews Winters Park 5 miles

Meal 2:
2 links Duke Shorty Sausage
5 oz Galal apple
2 Tbsp peanut butter (Simply Organic)

Meal 3:
4.5 oz chicken
4 oz broccoli
1/2 avocado

Training:
Snatch
2 @ 55#
2 @ 65#
2 @ 75#
1 @ 95#
1@ 105#

Meal 4:
Shredded chicken burrito - tortilla, chicken, beans, rice, lettuce
2 Modelos

Saturday 8/5

Meal 1:
10.5 oz Silk almond yogurt vanilla
1/2 cup blackberries

Training:
100 double unders
5 rounds:
10 ring rows
10 push ups
100 double unders

Meal 2:
Larabar - Apple pie

Meal 3:
3 eggs
5 oz Gala apple
2 Tbsp Peanut butter

Meal 4:
Coffee with 1 scoop Perfect Keto Collagen
Cliff bar nut butter - peanut butter chocolate

Meal 5:
4 oz chicken
5 oz broccoli

Sunday 8/6

Meal 1:
3 eggs
Banana

Meal 2:
Egg white frittata with veggies - mushroom, tomato, asparagus, broccoli

Meal 3:
4 oz chicken
4 oz potatoes

 

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Keto Diet - Everything You Need To Know

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Keto Diet - Everything You Need To Know

The Ketogenic Diet is all the rage right now. People are claiming that this diet can be used for everything from getting healthy, disbanded serious illnesses, increasing brain function, and even to lose excess body fat for ripped abs. The basis is simple - eat lots of fat, and as few carbs as possible.

This blog will be covering a variety of things to help you determine whether this popular diet might work for you.

I'll be answering:

  • What does the ketogenic diet look like?
  • What are ketones? What is ketosis? The why.
  • Who does this diet work best for?
  • What does the research say about these claims?

What does the keto diet look like?

The keto diet consists of having large portions of fat, with some protein, and as close to zero carbs as possible in order to allow ketones to be released into the blood stream for energy. A standard mixed meal might look like 30% protein, 30% fat, and 40% carbs. A keto diet looks like 20% protein, 75% fat, and 5% carbs.

The lack of carbs is one of the main factors of a keto meal. The suggested intake for carbs daily is around 10-15g. That's about 10-15 grapes for the entire day, for some perspective. 

The high fat intake is the other main factor of a keto meal. The energy intake of fat should be nearly 90% of the daily intake. This is somewhat easier to manage since there are 9 calories per gram of fat, compared to 4 calories per gram of both protein and carbs. 

As you might imagine, the diet can become very restrictive in order to maintain such low carb intake and high fat intake. It looks something like this:

Here's a quick list of foods that are off limits:

  • Most dairy - except those high in fat, like some cheeses and butter
  • Fruit
  • Grains
  • Beans and legumes
  • Slightly-sweet vegetables (winter squash, beets, carrots)
  • Starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes)
  • Most processed foods 

What are ketones? What is ketosis? The why.

This is going to get a little science-y, but it's important to understand why you're undertaking a diet and what's happening in your body to better understand how to fuel yourself if you choose this route. So bare with me here.

Ketones are organic compounds created by the body, typically in starvation mode, that can be used as an energy source. There are two types of ketones that can be used as energy sources: acetoacetate and D-β-hydroxybutyrate. These are created through a complicated biochemical pathway that we won't worry about discussing here.

The term "keto" was coined in 1850 by Leopold Gmelin, a German chemist. If you thought this was a new diet, surprise! This concept has been around for a long time and was heavily studied in the 1950's. What they found was that in extreme scenarios, such as fasting or starvation for extended periods (2-3 days minimum), the body creates ketones for energy. This process can also be created through nutrition in which carb intake is low with a high fat intake. 

Here's what it looks like, in the case of fasting/starvation, or a ketogenic state:

  1. The body releases fatty acids from stored body fat.
  2. These fatty acids enter in other cells, and are combined with co-enzyme A to form acetyl-CoA chains.
  3. These chains move into the mitchondria of our cells (the energy plants of the cell) and are broken down into acetyl-CoA units by a sequence of reactions known as β-oxidation.
  4. This is where the magic happens. Acetyl-CoA forms the ketones: acetoacetate and β-hydroxybutyrate, as well as acetone.
  5. The ketones are released into the blood stream by the liver and are then available for any cell to use the energy from the ketones. The brain loves these and usually absorbs most of them. (Think about being in starvation mode - you need to preserve the brain first and foremost).

Ketosis is a state of being when this process happens in the body. Ketones must be present in the blood stream to be in a state of ketosis, and this is usually measured through keto sticks (sort of like pregnancy sticks that you pee on to measure if your body is excreting ketones). This measurement can be somewhat faulty in that it measures if you are excreting ketones, not whether the ketones are present in your blood stream. 

So how do we get into ketosis? There's a few ways.

  1. Ketogensis - Simple, starvation. This energy creating pathway came about through our ancestors starving, since food was not always readily available. It takes about 72 hours to reach ketogenesis. This is basically our body's back up system to helping us maintain the health of our brains in times of low food intake. Glucose (carbs) is the standard energy source for our body. 
  2. Ketogenic diet - This is the nutritional course of action, since starvation isn't exactly appealing. By removing the carb intake form the diet and focusing on high fat intake with some protein, the body goes into the same mode as starvation and ketosis is achieved. 

Who does this diet work best for? And what does the research say about these claims?

It's important to know that the ketogenic diet is not beneficial for everyone. This section will cover some known benefits and some populations who see now added benefit so that you can make an educated decision when deciding whether or not to implement this if your life. 

Metabolic Diseases

Research suggests that the ketogenic diet may be beneficial for a short-term treatment or a "boost" for returning metabolism back to a normal state in the case of type-2 diabetes. This does not mean that the diet is a cure all, but that it should be conducted in conjunction with medical supervision and possibly in addition to medication. Conducting this diet for this purpose, should be clearly defined and well-monitored, rather than a cure for most people

Neurodegeneration and Brain Injuries

The ketogenic diet originally came about as a result of the search for curing and moderating epilepsy. Recent research shows that neurogenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s) are related to metabolic disorders like diabetes and obesity through inflammation of the gut. Alzheimer's is now being referred to as "diabetes of the brain" or "Type-3 diabetes." By removing carbohydrates and introducing high levels of fat, the brain is able to have amble energy in addition to the presence of ketones. In the case of epilepsy, seizures have been dramatically reduced through the ketogenic diet. 

The presence of ketones have also been shown to improve the outcomes of traumatic brain injury, though it's important to note that most studies have been conducted on rats.

Even so, the presence of ketones looks to be a low-risk treatment for neurodegenerative diseases, and even prevention, for improving brain health.

Longevity

One of the claims surrounding the keto diet is that if will improve lifespan and keep you healthy. Studies have shown that calorie restriction and fasting are beneficial for the lifespan of cells, but it's unclear if ketosis works the same way. And the real question is, who's willing to maintain this diet for their entire lifespan to find out. In addition to this, it's difficult to prove that the keto diet is the only variable between two people to truly test the outcome. 

Athletic Performance

Athletes need fuel to perform. You've probably seen me talk about eating carbs for pre- and post-workout meals in order to not only perform well, but recover well. So how does this work with ketosis?

Ketosis avoids glycogen depletion (that point where you feel like crap or muscles stop functioning properly), because you aren’t using glycogen (from carbs) as your energy source. Instead the body uses fat and ketones for energy. In the process, fat oxidation increases, you produce less lactate and use less oxygen at submaximal rates. Sounds great right?

Unfortunately, the consensus from exercise psychologists is that the problem with fat and ketone bodies as fuel, you won't be able to perform as well as when you are using glucose and carbohydrates as fuel. If your purpose is to be an athlete, you want to perform well. This might not be the best diet for you. There has, however, been one study released that shows a small improvement in cyclist's performance with ketone supplement in combination with carbohydrates. 

Losing Fat and Weight Loss

One of the benefits to the low-carb approach is that your intake reflects higher levels of satiating food (aka the stuff that keep your brain happy and telling you that you're full). If we're hungry less often, it means we will eat less. Eating less in general will lead to some weight loss.

When beginning this diet, you might also notice an initial weight drop. This is due to the depletion of glucose and glycogen happening in the body. Storing glucose is a relatively heavy compound to be stored in the body, which is why our body converts it into body fat for later energy use. For this reason, when we deplete it through not getting carbs in the diet, you'll see an initial weight drop. 

This doesn't necessarily lead to long-term weight or fat loss results. Chances are you'll grow tired of eating a very restricted diet of protein and fat. 

It's also important to note that eating low-carb can be particularly harmful for women. Women's bodies are much more sensitive to the depletion of energy and nutrients. In many cases, women see the disappearance of the menstrual cycle in this process. 

So here's the recap:

  • If you're an athlete, you need to be in tune with your body and it's energy needs. Unless you're an endurance athlete, there's a good chance that this diet won't be beneficial for your performance. 
  • If you're a regular person look for weight/fat loss, the keto diet is not a sustainable long-term solution. You might find short-term results and an initial weight loss, but these will likely plateau. 
  • If this is something you want to try, nutrition coaching is strongly recommended to ensure a smooth transition. Have you ever stopped eating carbs outright? Spoiler alert, it's going to feel rough, so having a coach help ease you into the process can be a game-changer.
  • If you have a neurodegenerative disease or brain injuries, this might be a good resource for experimenting with your diet to help mitigate certain effects. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new nutrition plan.
  • If you have type-2 diabetes, this might be a good jump start for creating a healthy metabolic system, but consult your doctor to ask make sure this won't interfere with any current medications. 

 

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Nutrition & Training Log - Week 2

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Nutrition & Training Log - Week 2

Week two! The week felt a little lighter in regards to the volume of food. This is in part due to a decrease in training, as well as the conditions of the week (it was rainy most of the week). I intended to have a higher training volume over the weekend (with two 14er summits), which resulted in both less training later in the week to save my legs and a lower metabolism. I also camped over the weekend, which is why there are so many straight forward foods like Cliff Bars included.

One of the concepts behind Always Growing is that nutrition plans should be sustainable and balanced. When I think of this, one thing comes to mind - you should never be hungry. I tell all my clients this. My goal is for them to never be starving throughout the day or going to bed hungry, and this is something I've been making as a priority in my own nutrition as well. Sometimes I get picked on for it, i.e. "Wow, you eat a lot."

You can follow any nutrition plan you want, but if you're hungry and starving yourself, you're ignoring a basic primal pathway in our bodies and our brains. When you're hungry, you should eat. It doesn't mean you'll gain weight. It doesn't mean you're too weak to resist. It means your body is asking for some energy, vitamin, or nutrient that it needs to function well. And fueling your body properly means you'll likely be happier in the long run.

Monday 7/24

Meal 1:
3 eggs
1 cup Tortilla chips

Meal 2:
4 oz chicken breast
2 cups carrots

Meal 3:
Boar's Head Beef Frankfurter's (2)

Meal 4:
4 oz steak
1 cup sauteed spinach
1 Tbsp butter
5 oz steamed carrots
5 oz. Gala apple

Tuesday 7/25

Meal 1:
10.5 oz Silk almond milk yogurt vanilla flavor
1 cup strawberries
Coffee with 1 scoop Perfect Keto Collagen

Meal 2:
3 eggs
2.5 oz breakfast sausage
4 oz potatoes

Training:
Split Squats
5 @ 65#
5 @ 75#
5 @ 85#
3 @ 105#
3 @ 115#
1 @ 125#
1 @ 135#
1 @ 145#

15 cals Assault Bike
50 Jumping lunges

Meal 2:
Banana
1 Scoop SFH Recovery chocolate
1 tsp Apple cider vinegar

Meal 3:
Boar's Head Frankwurter's (2)
5 oz carrots

Meal 4: 
6 oz chicken
2 tortillas
1/2 cup spinach
2 cups tortilla chips
1 mini Wholly Guacamole cup
2 square dark chocolate w/ almonds

Wednesday 7/26

Meal 1:
3 eggs
Fast Lane tea
5.5 oz Gala apple

Meal 2:
3 oz chicken breast
4 oz potatoes
1 scoop Perfect Keto Collagen

Training:
3 rounds:
200m run
With what time is remaining of 2 min, perform:
AMRAP GHD sit ups. 
Rest 1 min

3 rounds:
400m run
With what time is remaining of 4 min, perform:
AMRAP slamballs. 

Meal 3:
1 tsp Apple cider vinegar in water
Banana

Meal 4:
4 oz steak
5 oz aparagus
5 oz strawberries

Thursday 7/27

Meal 1:
3 eggs
Banana

Training:
5-4-3-2-1
Rounds of CIndy
200m farmers carry

Meal 2:
1 scoop SFH Recovery Chocolate
5 oz Gala apple

Meal 3:
5 oz shrimp
3 oz broccoli
6 oz potatoes

Friday 7/28

Meal 1: 
10.5 oz Silk yogurt vanilla flavor
1 cup strawberries

Meal 2:
4 eggs

Meal 3:
4 oz chicken
5 oz broccoli

Meal 4:
Garbanzo plate - chicken, rice, lettuce, cucumber, tomato, hummus, garlic sauce

Saturday 7/29

Meal 1: 
Banana
1 scoop SFH Recovery Protein Chocolate

Training:
Hike/Run - American Lake 6 miles

Meal 2: 
Orange
Cliff bar - Sierra Trail Mix

Meal 3:
2 eggs
4 oz salmon
5 oz potatoes
1/2 cup hollandaise

Meal 5: 
2 oz chicken
Larabar Apple Pie

Sunday 7/30

Meal 1:
Banana nut muffin
Coffee

Meal 2: 
5 oz steak
6 oz broccolinni
5 oz potatoes + green onion, mint

Meal 3:
2 craft beers
Cliff bar - Sierra Trail Mix

Meal 4:
4 oz chicken
2 pieces small Naan

 

 

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