Pre-workout Meals

Pre-workout Meals

 

There are a few important things to consider in the pre-workout meal discussion. Timing, size, and content are the three key factors in choosing a great meal that will give you optimal performance levels.
Timing– Ideally, a meal should be eaten between 2 and 3 hours before a workout in order to give your body time to fully digest the protein, carbohydrates, and sugar that will be converted to fuel to power you through those grueling last few reps. For all you earlier birds, I don’t expect you to wake up at 3 Am to make an omelette. So your meal and portion size will be much different.
Size– Portion size is extremely important because you don’t want to feel bogged down or bloated during a workout. On that same token ensuring your muscles are properly fueled is vital to prevent muscle degredation. The preworkout meal and time before workout are directley correlated. The farther away you are from a workout (say 3 hours) the bigger your meal (probably full size). If you are grabbing something 15-20 minutes before it should be much smaller and generally in liquid form so it is easily digestable.
Content-An ideal pre-workout meal should consist of 20-30 grams of protein to keep your body in an anabolic state to prevent muscle breakdown during your workout. Along with the protein, 20-30 grams of low glycemic carbohydrates is also advisable.

A 2-3 hour prior example 

A turkey/chicken breast, spinach & tomato omelette with a small serving of steel cut oats. Low glycemic carbohydrates such as spinach and steel cut oats will be converted to energy and used as fuel during your workout. Low glycemic carbohydrates will keep your insulin from spiking which can lead an energy crash mid-workout. This meal is also low in fat and fiber which will make it easy to digest.

Ingredients

  • 2 whole cage free eggs
  • ½ cup spinach
  • ½ turkey/chicken breast
  •  ¼ cup dice tomatoes
  •  ½ cup cooked steel cut oats with cinnamon and blueberries

Nutritional Facts

  • Calories-400
  • Protein-30 grams
  • Carbohydrates-30 grams
  • Fat-6 grams
  • Fiber-8 grams

I like to workout in the late mornings so the first thing I do when I wake up is start off with a great breakfast that has an adequate source of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and fat. The protein will ensure there is no muscle breakdown and give your body a steady stream of fuel and amino acids through your workout. The carbs will be converted to energy while the fiber and fat will keep you feeling full throughout the pre-workout/workout period. Adequate hydration is also vital to prepare you body for a successful workout. Ensuring your muscles are hydrated will prevent cramping and optimize performance.

Now, for the early birds. (15-45 minutes before workout)

 

Home made protein shake

My protein shake is very generic but an effective, homemade recipe. I shoot for a 1:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio made with the following ingredients.

  • 1 cup unsweetened Almond Milk
  •  1/2 serving plain unflavored greek yogurt
  •  1 tbsp chia seeds
  •  ¼ cup of blueberries
  •  ½ banana
  •   1 scoop of unflavored 100% whey isolate protein powder (20-30 grams)
  •  3 grams of glutamine
  •   Ice cubes

Nutritional facts

  • Calories-300
  • Protein-25 grams
  • Carbohydrates- 30 grams
  • Fiber- 12 grams

A 2:1 or 1:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio is ideal for refueling your muscles and replacing glycogen levels. Drink this shake within 30 minutes of your workout, or 30 minutes prior, to ensure your muscles receive healthy carbohydrates and protein from natural sources to rebuild muscle tissue that has been broken down during a workout. A liquid meal, such as a protein shake, is absorbed more quickly than solid food. The addition of fruit will help you restore your glycogen levels and transport protein to your muscles. Using natural foods such as fruit and unflavored yogurt will stabilize blood sugar levels and not cause a severe insulin spike that you get with most “store-bought” shakes due to the large amount of processed sugars and additives that are present.  The combination of chia seeds, fruit, yogurt, and almond milk provides an excellent source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. With such a wide array of products and additives that are present in many supplements and shakes, I always recommend people make their own, using unprocessed ingredients, to ensure your muscles receive the most bang for your buck. Here is a tip: Make your shake the night before and store it in the fridge to save yourself the hassle and cleanup in the morning.

Generally a medium-sized meal is recommended 2 hours before your workout to give your body a chance to digest and convert the food before you lift. With that being said, every person is different. Finding out what works best for you in terms of energy levels, muscle growth, and recovery is the most important thing. Whatever you do make sure you have a steady stream of energy to you can power through a tough workout.

Sorry about the recent hiatus and thanks for reading. Let me know if you have any comments or questions.

From South Bend,

Kevin
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5 Reasons To Drink More Tea

5 Reasons To Drink More Tea

Based on last week’s blog on coffee I decided to discuss another great beverage. I get a lot of questions about what people should drink and the only options I ever recommend are the choices I adhere to myself in coffee, tea, water, unsweetened almond milk, and yes occasionally alcohol.  So lets talk about tea and all the great benefits that come along with it’s consumption.

Tea Statistics
Pounds of tea imported to the U.S. each year 519 million pounds
Total amount of tea consumed in the U.S. every day 1.42 million pounds
Number of men and women who drink tea every morning 2 billion
Total projected sales of tea for U.S. in 2012 $15 billion

Although not as popular as coffee in the US, tea is still widely consumed and is a staple for many americans. Lets look at some of the benefits.

1. Tea Is Loaded With Antioxidants

  • Tea is loaded with phytonutrients such as antioxidants.  Antioxidants in black and green tea, called flavonoids, may help to maintain healthy cells and tissues as well as contribute to healthy cardiovascular function. Antioxidants are natural plant based biochemicals that prevent oxidation or “rusting” of living tissues.
  • Tea can also help strengthen your immune system because its attack on bacteria, free radicals, viruses, and fungi.
  • A study by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School found that people who drank five cups of a tea were able to beat a cold five times faster than coffee drinkers were.

2. Tea Is Calorie-free And Helps Promote Fat Loss

  • So many people “watch what they eat” but ruin there otherwise healthy diets with sodas, loaded coffees, juices, shakes, smoothies, and energy drinks.
  • Tea is naturally calorie free and gives you your flavor fix while not costing empty calories found in most other beverages
  • Research indicates that substances found in green tea known as catechins and EGCG may trigger weight loss by stimulating the body to burn calories and decreasing body fat.
  • Recent research in animals show that catechins and EGCG found in green tea may also affect body fat accumulation and cholesterol levels.

3. Tea Increases Your Metabolism.

  • Drinking green tea or oolong tea offers the combined benefits of caffeine and catechins, substances shown to rev up the metabolism for a couple hours.
  • Research suggests that drinking two to four cups of either tea may push the body to burn 17% more calories than normal during moderately intense exercise for a short period of time.

4. Tea Reduces Risk of Stroke, Cancer, and Heart Disease

  • One study shows that Eight hundred elderly Dutch men consuming 3.4 cups of tea per day decreased their risk of death from coronary heart disease by 58 percent compared to those who consumed lesser amounts of flavonoid rich foods.
  • Flavonoids in tea may also decrease the tendency of platelets to stick together that cause heart disease and stroke.
  • Studies suggest that both black and green tea may help prevent or delay the formation of tumors-specifically in the skin, lung, esophagus, stomach, and colon.
  • Green tea, according to Harvard Health Publications, has cancer inhibiting components called catechins. Specifically, studies have shown it to reduce the risk of skin, breast, lung, colon, esophageal and bladder cancer.

5. Each Variety Contains a Unique Blend Of Health/Nutritional Benefits.

  • Green tea’s role in lowering cholesterol, burning fat, preventing diabetes and stroke, and staving off dementia.
  • Black tea a potential heart tonic,cancer blocker, fat buster, immune stimulant, arthritis soother, virus fighterand cholesterol detoxifier.
  • White tea is the least processed tea and has the highest antioxidant levels, protects against cancer, heart disease, and stroke, strengthens the circulatory and immune systems as well as bones and teeth, and builds healthy skin.
  • Red tea contains magnesium, which is necessary for a healthy nervous system,  increases the absorption of iron in the body, contains potassium and copper minerals that are necessary for several metabolic functions, helps nervous tension and mild depression as it makes a relaxing sedative.

Conclusion

While I am a big proponent of caffeiene and specifically its impact on health and performance, tea offers a lower caffienated alternative to coffee with the typical cup containing about 10-60 mg of caffiene. Besides the obvious health benefits tea is versatile in that you can drink it both hot (winter) and cold (summer) and reap all its benefits. Like I stated earlier, anytime you can substitute a beverage that contains numerous health benefits for a sugar loaded juice, pop, or sports drink, is a no-brainer.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any comments or questions.

From South Bend,

Kevin

Top 5 Reasons To Drink More Coffee

Top 5 Reasons To Drink More Coffee

Are we coffee addicts?

  • 54% of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee every day.
  • Americans drink over 3 cups of coffee per day on average (regular 8 oz. cup)
  • 65% Americans drink coffee with breakfast
  • The U.S spends $40 Billion on coffee every year
  • Coffee is the second most valuable commodity in the world behind oil

Why is this beverage so popular and is it healthy? Here are some reasons to continue to have a cup of JOE. 

1. Coffee Can Lessen Your Risk Of Diabetes 

  • 25.8 million children and adults in the United States(About 8.3% of the population) have diabetes.
  • Antioxidants such as chlorogenic acid and magnesium found in coffee can improve sensitivity to insulin and may contribute to lowering risk of type 2 diabitie.s
  • In a recent study conducted by the Harvard school of public health subjects  who drank more than six cups of caffeinated coffee per day reduced their risk for type 2 diabetes by more than 50 percent compared to men in the study who didn’t drink coffee.
  • In 2009, a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine reported that people who drank the most coffee seemed to have the lowest risk of developing type 2 diabetes. That study reported that with each cup of coffee consumed daily, the risk of type 2 diabetes dropped by 7 percent.

2. Coffee Can Boost Your Metabolism

  • Caffeine, the best know ingredient in regular coffee, can raise blood sugar and increase energy expenditure in the short-term
  • Some studies suggest coffee can increase metabolism by 10%
  • Be aware that  a sugar-filled, flavored coffee can up calorie count and might actually slow down your metabolism (thanks to the sugar), shich seems a bit counterproductive.

3. Coffee Can Enhance Fat Oxidation

  • Caffeine increases the level of circulating fatty acids. This has been shown to increase the oxidation of these fuels, hence enhancing fat oxidation.
  • Caffeine has been used for years by runners and endurance people to enhance fatty acid metabolism. It’s particularly effective in those who are not habitual users.
  • Coffee can also enhance lyposis-the ability to burn fat. (see study below)

4. Coffee Boosts Performance And Can Decrease Fatigue

  • Caffeine is the most versatile and effective ergogenic aid (i.e. something that enhances exercise performance).
  • A prominent exercise physiologist, David Costill, Ph.D., performed the ground-breaking study on caffeine and exercise 26 years ago.He took nine competitive cyclists (two females and seven males) and had them bike until exhaustion at 80% of V02 max. (Note: V02 max, also known as maximal oxygen uptake, is a measure of how well your cardiopulmonary system functions).
  • Each subject consumed coffee containing 330mg (between 1-3, 8 ounce cups) of caffeine 60 min before the exercise or a placebo (decaffeinated coffee). Following the ingestion of caffeine, the subjects were able to perform an average of 90 minutes of cycling as compared to an average of 76 minutes in the placebo trial. This reflects an 18% increase! They also found that subjects burned more fat (aka lipolysis) as shown by measurements of plasma free fatty acids, glycerol and respiratory exchange ratios. In fact, fat oxidation or burning was significantly higher (107% greater) during the caffeine trial (118 g or 1.31 g/min) than in the placebo trial (57 g or 0.75 g/min). Also, the perception of effort was much less in subjects after consuming subjects indicating that exercise felt easier.(3)
  • Caffeine, which helps muscles use fatty acids for energy and blunts the effect of adenosine, can extend the time before muscles fatigue.

5. Coffee Can Increase Mental Alertness

  • Coffee contains a significant amount of caffeine, a widely used central nervous stimulant.
  • Our brain is the first organ affected by caffeine, where it interferes with the action of the neurotransmitter adenosine. Adenosine has a calming effect on the brain, so the result of its interaction with caffeine is increased alertness and wakefulness.
  • Caffeine affects the adrenal glands, stimulating the release of two adrenal hormones, cortisol and adrenaline — also known as hydrocortisone and epinephrine. These two hormones act to increase alertness and awareness.

What to drink

  1. Medium roast/filtered coffee
  2. 100% Arabica Beans
  3. Unflavored
  4. No additives
  5. No Sugar and No Cream

Conclusion

As you can tell, most of coffee’s benefits come in the form of antioxidants and its number one ingredient, caffeine. I have always been a proponent of eating and drinking things in their most natural state. That is why I will always suggest or recommend black coffee over a caffeine supplement such as an energy drink, energy shot, or energy powder. With little to no research about the energy drink market and their side effects, ( especially the long-term health effects) your best bet is to stick with coffee.

Final Thoughts

I never used to be an early riser. Ever since I started drinking coffee about 3 year ago I have found it much easier to get out of bed knowing I am going to have a great breakfast followed by a cup of coffee. Beyond the health benefits, coffee gives people something to look forward to on those cold rainy mornings. There is also the social aspect of coffee drinking that is added bonus. With the prevalence of phones, internet, and TV, having a cup of coffee with a friend, family, or stranger gives you a chance to put your technology dominated life on hold and have a good ole fashioned conversation over a healthy beverage.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any comments or questions.

From South Bend,

Kevin

High Reps vs Low Reps: Which is Better?

High Reps vs Low Reps: Which is Better?

The concept is Simple: High Reps should be performed to tone and lose fat and Low reps to build muscle and bulk up right? Not so fast. New research and studies have shown that both men and women can benefit from doing High reps/Light weight and Low reps/Heavy weight. The key is fatigue. My blog and the rest of this article can be found on http://www.builtlean.com. Here me and Builtlean Owner Marc Perry teamed up to write a great article this week. Check it out at http://www.builtlean.com/2012/07/19/high-reps-vs-low-reps/.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any comments or questions.

From South Bend,

Kevin

 

The Newest Fitness Fad; Exercising Barefoot

The Newest Fitness Fad; Exercising Barefoot

Our feet are the only part of our anatomy that touches the ground to transmit all the force that we spend so much time developing in the rest of our body. Think about that –  the only part of our anatomy to touch the ground when we run or jump – and most of us spend little to no time developing strength, mobility and proprioception in the feet.”

Although a growing trend, this training technique is nothing new.  There are many pictures from the ‘70s of Arnold Schwarzenegger and his buddies training barefoot.  Not only a more natural way to train, going barefoot or minimalist provides some very real performance advantages.Bunions, corns, hammer toes, Achilles shortening, athlete’s foot, and ingrown nails are just some of the issues associated with training in shoes.

The Science

The architecture of the hand and the foot are almost identical. So what would happen if you had incredibly weak hands? If you have incredibly weak hands then you can’t pick anything up and if you can’t pick anything up then the arms, back and legs can’t get strong –  and it would be easy to see that if the arm isn’t strong then it’s also more susceptible to injury. It only seems right that the same principle applies to the foot.

The Benefits

No Heel-The lift caused by the heel of a traditional shoe alters the body’s center of balance on its vertical axis.  This shifts the weight slightly forward and as a result the body compensates by exaggerating the lumbar curve.

Uneven Cushion-When weight is applied in the direction of gravity (such as in the case of squats) the foam compresses unevenly and inconsistently introducing an element of instability into the lift.  This can lead to less weight per lift. As the lifter attempts to move the weight against the pull of gravity (as in the case of a deadlift) the compression of the cushioning fails to transfer all of the lifters energy to the ground or lifting platform which robs the lifter of the full benefit of his or her efforts.

Increased Balance And Posture-There is no substitute for the bare foot when it comes to improving posture.  Proper posture leads to improved technique which allows you to lift more weight more efficiently and more safety.

Yoga Like Benefits-One major difference can be seen in yoga class. The feet of those who have been performing yoga barefoot for a lifetime are different than those who may have just begun. Well-formed arches and un-cramped toes are often the results of barefoot training.

No More Shin Splints– The subtly raised heel and the added arch support of the average training shoe change the natural mechanics of the foot. In short, time spent in a raised heel unnaturally tightens the calf muscle and lengthens the shin muscle. Calf cramps and shin splints are often directly caused by shortened calves and lengthened shins.

Reduced Joint Pain– Artificially supported shoes can force unnatural pressure into the knees, spine, and even neck. One way to naturally strengthen the arch and shin, relax the calf, improve overall ankle stability, and promote proper muscle alignment is to train barefoot.

Less Impact– “People who don’t wear shoes when they run have an astonishingly different strike.” “By landing on the middle or front of the foot, barefoot runners have almost no impact collision, much less than most shod runners generate when they heel-strike.

Negatives

The Shock Factor-Suddenly going barefoot or wearing a minimal shoe can be quite a shock to the foot and require a slow adaptation phase. Like anything exposing new movements and training regiments at full force can cause injury overuse.

Why Fix What Isn’t Broken-If you have no problems and no pain, do you really need to change anything?

Gym Rules-Many gyms don’t allow you to train barefoot

Dirty And Unsafe Surfaces– Shoes can provide protection from glass, dirt, and other random debris that can cause foot damage. But lets be honest, if you drop a weight on your foot than you are going to be hurting either way.

Blisters-Almost everyone who switches to a minimal shoe or starts going shoeless will find themselves battling blisters for the first few weeks until calluses are formed.

Conclusions

It seems petty but strengthening your foot is an essential part of strengthening the entire lower limb. I think the hand analogy describes it best. What would happen if you had incredibly weak hands? If you have incredibly weak hands then you can’t pick anything up and if you can’t pick anything up then the arms, back and legs can’t get strong. It seems like the same principal should apply to the foot. That is why I  am recommending that people give this a shot. I have always been an advocate of eating things as they are found in their natural state. I have the same ideas towards exercise. Whether it is choosing the treadmill over the elliptical, free weights over machines, or barefoot over shoes, always go with the most natural form of sutff. Start off by incorporating a few exercises and build up to an entire barefoot workout. If you are a germ freak and can bare the weird look of them, give Vibrams a shot  http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/index.htm.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any comments or questions.

From South Bend,

Kevin

The Best Metabolism Boosters

The Best Metabolism Boosters

A high metabolism means that the body is burning calories at a greater rate than average. However, an elevated metabolism goes beyond helping you burn calories and lose weight. Benefits also include

  1. More energy
  2. Better disease prevention
  3. Improved brain function
  4. Ability to recover from exercise or injury faster
  5. Healthier looking skin… to name a few

You have a huge amount of control over your metabolic rate. You can burn an extra 500 to 600 calories a day by exercising properly and eating right.” John Berardi, Ph.D., C.S.C.S., author of The Metabolism Advantage

So how does one get an elevated metabolism to reap all of these great benefits? Here are a few things to jumpstart your metabolism and get you on track towards a healthy lifestyle

1. 16 Ounces Of Cold Water Every Morning

  • Dehydration is your body’s enemy. It slows bodily functions and metabolism.
  • Your metabolism will slow to conserve energy when you haven’t had enough water to drink, as your organs can’t and won’t function as efficiently.
  • Scientifically speaking, drinking water has been proven to contribute to your body’s ability to burn calories.
  • Your body will burn a few extra calories heating the cold water to your core temperature

2. Eat A High Protein Breakfast

  • If you don’t, your body goes into starvation mode and your metabolism slows to a crawl to conserve energy
  • A high protein breakfast can boost the metabolic rate up to 30% for as long as 12 hours and provide lower insulin release, while assisting with food cravings.
  • Aim for something high in protein, containing some complex carbohydrates, and  healthy fats.
  • Cramming protein into every meal helps build and maintain lean muscle mass. Muscle burns more calories than fat does, even at rest
  • My Example: I have a 2 egg omelette with chicken breast/mushroom/peppers and a serving of my Steel Cut Oatmeal Recipe found here http://www.builtlean.com/2012/03/14/steel-cut-oats-recipe/

3. Drink Coffee

  • In a recent study the average metabolic rate of people who drank caffeinated coffee increased 16 percent over that of those who drank decaf.
  • Caffeine stimulates your central nervous system by increasing your heart rate and breathing which will raise your metabolism and burn more calories.

4. Lift Weights In Place Of Cardio

  • Our bodies constantly burn calories, even when we’re doing nothing. This resting metabolic rate is much higher in people with more muscle. To add more muscle you need to lift weights and perform resistance training.
  • Every pound of muscle uses about 6 calories a day just to sustain itself, while each pound of fat burns only 2 calories daily.
  • After a bout of resistance training, muscles are activated all over your body, increasing your average daily metabolic rate.

5. Drink Green Tea

  • The brew contains a plant compound called ECGC, which promotes fat burning.
  • In one study, people who consumed the equivalent of three to five cups a day for 12 weeks decreased their body weight by 4.6 percent.
  • According to other studies, consuming two to four cups of green tea per day may torch an extra 50 calories by revving up your metabolism.

6. Eat Spicy Foods

  • Spicy foods contain chemical compounds that can kick the metabolism into a higher gear.
  • It turns out capsaicin, the compound that gives chili peppers their mouth-searing quality, can also fire up your metabolism. Eating about one tablespoon of chopped red or green chilies boosts your body’s production of heat and the activity of your sympathetic nervous system.
  • One study suggests spicy food can provide a temporary rise in metabolism of about 8% greater than a person’s typical metabolic rate.

7. Eat Every 3 hours

  • Eating more often really can help you lose weight and boost your metabolism.
  • When you eat large meals with many hours in between, your metabolism slows down between meals.
  • Having a small meal or snack every 3 to 4 hours keeps your metabolism cranking, so you burn more calories over the course of a day.
  • Several studies have also shown that people who snack regularly eat less at meal time.

Conclusion

These 7 suggestions can help promote an elevated metabolism which will allow you to burn more calories and help sustain a healthy lifestyle. While each one may only promote a slight increase in your metabolism, incorporating all of them into a daily routine will surely provide noticeable changes and benefits. Even those of you that are inherently lazy can force some cold water down in the morning or add some spice to your lunch and dinner. Give these a try and find out which ones work the best for you.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any comments or questions.

From South Bend,

Kevin

Low Carb vs Low Fat Diets

Low Carb vs Low Fat Diets

I read a great article on the Wall Street Journal that inspired this post.

Over the last 20 years marketers and food manufactures have coaxed consumers into believing that the cause of rising obesity rates is due to our surplus fat intake. Consumers make choices they believe are healthy based on “healthy labels” when in fact they are not.We’re bombarded with supposedly guilt-free options: baked potato chips, fat-free ice cream, low-fat candies, which people think are healthy options because they are marketed as “low-fat” or “natural”. Yes, a high amount of saturated fat and trans fat is not good, but healthy fats such as the monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and omega-3s have the opposite effect and are essential to a healthy/well-balanced diet.

Myth: All fats are equal—and equally bad for you.

Fact: Saturated fats and trans fats are bad for you because they raise your cholesterol and increase your risk for heart disease. But monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are good for you, lowering cholesterol and reducing your risk of heart disease.

Myth: Fat-free means healthy.

Fact: A “fat-free” label doesn’t mean you can eat all you want without consequences to your waistline. Many fat-free foods are high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and calories.

Myth: Eating a low-fat diet is the key to weight loss.

Fact: The obesity rates for Americans have doubled in the last 20 years, coinciding with the low-fat revolution. Cutting calories is the key to weight loss, and since fats are filling, they can help curb overeating.

In recent years people have started to figure out that fat may not be main contributor to rising obesity rates, but a surplus of processed carbohydrates may actually be at the forefront of our problems. Cue, the “low-carb” diets where consumers restrict carb intake to under 100g/day. A recent article published by the Wall Street Journal claims that “A diet based on healthy carbohydrates—rather than a low-fat or low-carbohydrate diet—offers the best chance of keeping weight off without bringing unwanted side effects”… and I couldn’t agree more.

The Study

Goal:  The study was designed to look at the impact of the three diets on measures of energy expenditure, in addition to assessing hormones, fat levels in the blood and other health markers.

  • Participants followed a low glycemic food plan that focused on  fish, fruit, vegetables, nuts and whole grains. The Study explains while people who follow a low-carb diet also lose weight effectively, they have trouble keeping it off and encounter unwanted side effects.
  • Participants were placed on one of three diets for a month: a low-fat diet limiting fats to 20% of total calories; a low-carbohydrate diet modeled on the Atkins diet, limiting carbohydrate intake to 10% of total calories; and a low-glycemic-index diet, which contained 40% of total calories from carbohydrates, 40% from fats and 20% from protein. Participants were then switched to the other two diets during two additional four-week periods.

Results

  • “The low-fat diet had the worst effect” on energy expenditure, Dr. Ludwig said. Participants on that diet also had increases in triglycerides, a type of fat, and lower levels of so-called good cholesterol. “We should avoid severely restricting any major nutrient and focus on the quality of the nutrient,”
  • The low-carb diet had the biggest boost in total energy expenditure, burning about 300 calories more per day than those on the low-fat diet—about the same as an hour of moderate exercise. But that bump came at a cost: increases in cortisol, a stress hormone, and a measure of inflammation called CRP, which can raise the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.
  • Those on the low-glycemic-index diet burned about 150 calories a day more than those on the low-fat diet without any negative impacts on cholesterol levels or various hormones, making it the ideal diet, Dr. Ludwig said. The glycemic index measures the impact of carbohydrates on blood-sugar levels.

Conclusion and Takeaway

A balanced diet filled with healthy fats and healthy carbohydrates is ideal for loosing weight and keeping it off. Yes a low-carb diet can be effective, but you may develop other health risks, suffer from low energy levels, and risk  putting weight back on. Carbohydrates are used by our body as energy that can help sustain an efficient and worth-while workout. If your workout is jeopardized due to an nonavailability of adequate energy levels from carbohydrates then your exercise goals are compromised. Just to clarify; I am not advocating people go load up on pasta, breads, cereals, and other processed carbs. The key is to make sure the carbohydrates you do consume all come with a healthy dose of fiber and protein with a low glycemic index from things like fruit, vegetables, minimally processed oats and whole grains.

My Favorite Carb Sources

Quinoa

Steel Cut Oats

Black Beans

Source:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304458604577490943279845790.html?mod=e2tw

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any comments or questions.

From South Bend,

Kevin

The Diet Soda Hoax

The Diet Soda Hoax

“They may be free of calories, but not of consequences.”

In one study, people who drank two or more diet sodas a day had five times the increase in waist circumference over a 10-year period compared to people who didn’t drink any diet soda.

I think this topic is extremely relevant for summer time. Sodas and sodas mixed with alcohol are a summer time staple for many people. I respect people who don’t let their diet or nutrition plan interfere with their social life. I think there is something to be said about having a healthy balance between eating well, watching what you drink and socializing. Food and drink should never control your life. With that being said, there is a difference between smart choices and misinformed choices. The best example I can think of is people who buy diet soda or have  diet soda with alcohol because they are “watching their weight.”

The Science

  • Artificial sweeteners in diet soda could have the effect of triggering appetite but unlike regular sugars they don’t deliver something that will squelch the appetite
  • Sweeteners can inhibit brain cells that make you feel full. So while you may be saving calories in comparison with regular soda the artificial sweeteners will trigger your appetite and cause you to overeat in some other fashion.
  • Psychological licensing effect -If a person thinks that they are doing something that is benefiting them, they will be more prone to do something that may be potentially harmful, creating some sort of psychological balance. For instance, many people will work out for an hour or more, and then eat something unhealthy because “they earned it.” The same effect can be seen with diet sodas. People may think that diet sodas are more healthy, and they therefore drink more diet soda than they normally would. This will increase any negative effects beyond what they may expect from an infrequent consumption of cola.
  • Artificial sweeteners trigger byproducts in our gut called “short chain fatty acids” which can decrease satiety signals. (The component that relays messages to your brain to tell if you are full are interfered with as a byproduct of artificial sweeteners.)

What To Drink Instead

Honestly, the only things I ever recommend that people drink are water, black coffee, tea, unsweetened almond milk, and alcohol in moderation. If these don’t satisfy your cravings than opt for something that doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, or large amounts of sugar.

Examples

1. 100 percent pure juice from fresh fruit, not from concentrate, with no additives of any kind. ( I always recommend whole fruits over juices but there can be some compromise.)

Apple Juice

2. Fresh Vegetable Juice (Again, I always recommend whole vegetables but juicing vegetables can be a great alternative.)

3.100 percent pure fruit smoothie. ( I don’t trust any commercial smoothie joints just because you can never be sure what kind of sweeteners they use but do-it-yourself smoothies make for a great snack and thirst quencher.)

Conclusion

The jury is out. Diet soda is not a healthy alternative to regular soda. Not to say you should revert back to drinking regular soda where you know the sweetness you taste is actually real sugar and sugar additives. This is by no means better than artificial sweeteners. In my mind they are equally as bad and the decision on which to choose is a coin toss.  My suggestion is to play it safe and avoid all sodas and opt for water.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any comments or questions.

From South Bend,

Kevin

Is Peanut Butter Healthy?

Is Peanut Butter Healthy?

Peanut butter is a household staple in the typical American diet. It is most commonly used on bread, fruit, vegetables, and crackers as a convenient and “healthy” spread. However, is peanut butter actually healthy? The short answer is yes, with shades of grey.

Important Things to Consider

1. NEVER buy peanut butter with fully or partially hydrogenated oils. This “ingredient” is in about 90% of commonly consumed peanut butters and is an immediate red flag that should be avoided.

2. There should never be more than 2 ingredients in your product. Peanuts and salt (preferably no salt added is the best option). Look for products with one ingredient, peanuts.  If no products have just one ingredient than opt for the product with 2 ingredients, peanuts and salt.

3. Always buy natural peanut butter with the oil on top. Yes, it is a little bit inconvenient to stir, but this is peanut butter in its natural/unprocessed state.

4. Dont be duped by marketing slogans such as “reduced fat” or “smart balance”. The only thing you should be looking at is the ingredient list.

5. Numerous studies have shown that people who regularly include nuts or peanut butter in their diets are less likely to develop heart disease or type 2 diabetes than those who rarely eat nuts.

6. Peanut butter is full of vitamins, minerals, and potassium and a great source of protein and calories. With that being said, if you are watching your total calorie intake keep in mind 1 serving of peanut butter (2 tbsp) has ~200 calories.

7. According to research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, people who eat a diet high in foods like olive oil, avocados, and peanut butter are more likely to lose weight and keep it off than people following a more regimented, lower-fat diet.

Which Products To Avoid

Any peanut butter with more than 2 ingredients such as hydrogenated oils.

What To Choose

Natural Peanut Butters With Oil On Top And Contains Less Than 2 Ingredients

Notice the ingredients.  Peanuts… That’s it!

or

Natural, Raw, Almond Butter

  • The same principle applies to almond butter. Look for products where the ingredients listed are just almonds. Any unnecessary oils, sugars, or salts, should tell you to avoid that particular product which has gone through more processing with artificial additives to increase taste and shelf life.

Conclusion

Yes peanut butter is healthy. I use natural peanut and almond butter on broccoli, celery, half an apple, or half a banana.  Peanut butter paired with a fruit or vegetable can make for a great snack or side dish. Where people start to run into trouble is when they start mixing peanut butter with sugary jams and processed bread. 99% of Jam is fake/artificial sugar and when you couple that with 25-45 grams of processed carbohydrates from bread the once “healthy” peanut butter it can be transformed into a sugar and carb loaded nightmare. But to answer the question of the article,YES, 1 serving of natural peanut butter or almond butter is healthy as long as you are mixing it with the right foods.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any comments or questions.

From South Bend,

Kevin

A Great Snack That Helps Keep Fat Off

A Great Snack That Helps Keep Fat Off

Kale Chips

Kale chips are a healthy alternative to typical potato chips. They provide the same great taste and similar to all chips and snacks, most people find it very difficult to have just one. The great thing about kale chips is you can have more than a handful without stuffing yourself with empty calories from processed white flour or potatoes, unhealthy oils,  and salt.

Benefits Of Kale

  •  Kale is an amazing vegetable being recognized for its exceptional nutrient richness, health benefits, delicious flavor, and  is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet.
  • One cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.
  • Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K
  • Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds.
  • Beyond antioxidants, the fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.

Comparison Of Kale Chips With Other Popular Chips

Kale (1 ounce, 28 grams) 

  • Calories-15
  • Fat-0 grams
  • Fiber-2 grams
  • Sodium-12 grams
  • Carbs-3 grams
  • Protein-1 gram
  • Sugars-1 gram

Lays classic original (1 ounce, 28 grams)

  • Calories-150
  • Fat-10 grams
  • Fiber -1 gram
  • Sodium-180 grams
  • Carbs-15 grams
  • Protein-2 grams
  • Sugars-0 grams

Tostitos original tortilla chips (1 ounce, 28 grams)

  • Calories-140
  • Fat-7 grams
  • Fiber -1 gram
  • Sodium-120 grams
  • Carbs-18 grams
  • Protein-2 grams
  • Sugars-0 grams

How To Make them

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and put 1-2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil on baking sheet

2. Wash 1 head of kale and let it dry completely before putting it on the baking sheet.

3. Strip the kale from the stems into about 1-2 inch square pieces and rub in the oil from baking sheet. (Keep in mind kale will shrink when cooked.)

4. Lightly season with pepper and garlic powder

5. Cook for 20-25 minutes (Optional: Flip the kale halfway through)

6. Serve as you would chips, with or without the stems.

Conclusion

The nutritional comparison between kale chips and standard snack chips is a little bit ridiculous when you look at the calorie and carb difference alone.  Obviously when you take into account the processed ingredients involved in making generic chips the gap continues to widen. Yes, extra virgin olive oil will add some calories but it will also provide you with healthy fats that are a great alternative to the “vegetable oil” and “sunflower oil” found in generic chips. Anytime you can substitute natural ingredients/whole foods for processed/packaged foods is always a smart choice and will help you on your journey to achieve optimal body composition.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any comments or questions.

From South Bend,

Kevin