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
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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

Does Cardio On An Empty Stomach Burn More Fat?

Does Cardio On An Empty Stomach Burn More Fat?

cardio on empty stomach Does Cardio On An Empty Stomach Burn More Fat?

The blog this week can be found athttp://www.builtlean.com/  or by following this link http://www.builtlean.com/2012/05/29/cardio-empty-stomach/. This blog describes the positives and negatives to eating before you workout versus performing cardio on an empty stomach. This topic is heavily debated so a lot of research went into this one and hopefully this helps people decide on whether or not to eat before their next cardio workout.

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

From South Bend,

Kevin

Breaking Through Plateaus

Breaking Through Plateaus

I thought this article was appropriate seeing as so many people are trying to get lean for the summer.

Weight loss plateaus can be both mentally and physically taxing for anyone. Progress and results are what drives people and keeps them motivated to continue a healthy diet and exercise regimen. But what happens when you are doing all the right things and suddenly your results become stagnant?  Anyone that has lost weight has experienced a plateau in some form or another. Whether these plateaus last a week or a year, breaking through a weight loss plateau is crucial for your physical results and your psychological well-being.

 The Science Behind Plateaus

The progression from initial weight loss to a weight-loss plateau follows a typical pattern. During the first few weeks of losing weight, a rapid drop is normal. In part this is because when calories from food are reduced, the body gets needed energy by releasing its stores of glycogen, a type of carbohydrate found in the muscles and liver. Glycogen holds on to water, so when glycogen is burned for energy, it also releases water, resulting in substantial weight loss that’s mostly water.

A plateau occurs because your metabolism — the process of burning calories for energy — slows as you lose muscle. You burn fewer calories than you did at your heavier weight even doing the same activities. Your weight-loss efforts result in a new equilibrium with your now slower metabolism. At this new equilibrium, calories eaten equals calories expended. This means that to lose more weight, you need to increase activity or decrease the calories you eat. Using the same approach that worked initially may maintain your weight loss, but it won’t lead to more weight loss.

How To Overcome Plateaus

1. Make A Plan And Stick To It

Look back at your food and activity records. Make sure you haven’t loosened the rules, letting yourself get by with larger portions or less exercise. Track everything to ensure you aren’t cheating and you are sticking to the system and keeping yourself honest.

2. Change Your Workout

They say variety is the spice of life, and this holds true when it comes to your workouts. Without change you might find yourself dreading the monotony of regular gym sessions and simply lose motivation. Additionally, your body can become used to the same caloric burn and muscle exertion as it becomes more efficient at completing regular movements. Give your brain and brawn the wake up call they need by shaking up your usual routine with some new additions.

  • Try increasing the speed as you exercise and do short bursts of intense exercises (such as sprinting) for one to two minutes followed by small rest periods. These short bursts of anaerobic activity will stimulate your body to release human growth hormone, which helps to burn fat while maintaining muscle mass.
  • Maintain your body’s adaptation period by changing the intensity, duration, frequency and/or the mode of exercise and include interval training if necessary.
3. Pack More Activity Into Your Day
Think outside the gym. Increase your general physical activity throughout the day by walking more and using your car less, or try doing more yard work or vigorous spring cleaning. Little things like this will increase your overall caloric expenditure over an entire day.

4.   Calorie Cycling

This technique takes some pre-planning, but it could be just what your body needs. Cycle your calories by toying around with your daily caloric consumption. Maintain the same caloric intake over the course of a week, but eat 100 calories more one day, followed by 200 fewer calories the next day. Some folks call this the “zigzag” method, but no matter what you call it, this method disrupts your body’s equilibrium and will rev your weight loss engine. If you have been losing weight eating 1400 calories a day, eat around that many calories for three days. On the fourth day eat 300 to 400 calories more. Make sure those calories come from healthy foods mixing protein, carbs and fat. Those extra calories should not come from nachos and beer.

5. Spike Your Calorie Intake With One Meal A Weak

The human body will adapt to ANYTHING you do consistently over time.  This refers to weight training, cardio conditioning, and nutrition. Over time your body will adapt to the new caloric intake unless some type of adjustment has been made. Try offsetting your eating schedule by spiking your calories one meal a week by 400-600 calories. To increase your caloric intake on those “cheat meal days”, simply eat more nutritious food.  This will not only offset your metabolism, but will also keep your digestion and metabolism working optimally, ensuring a greater amount of fat-loss.

6. Cut Carb intake

Try reducing your carb intake to 50-100 grams per day to reduce insulin production and fire up your fat metabolism. Make sure that you’re eating enough protein for your weight (Shoot for 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight) eating the right vegetables and snacking on high-fat foods to keep you feeling satisfied.

7. Find Ways To Keep Your Metabolism Elevated 

  • Eat six small meals a day. Eating small portions throughout the day will help keep your metabolism going. This is an extremely useful tactic in breaking your weight-loss plateau. Eat something when you wake up in the morning, perhaps a small omelet or some steel-cut oats.  Pretty much keep your meal times as normal; breakfast, lunch and dinner with a meal in between each and something for the evening.  Keep it higher in protein, small in calories, and nutritious.
  • Drink cold water. Drinking cold water can elevate your metabolism for several hours following completion.
  • Eat metabolism boosting foods. Things like cinnamon, curry, jalapenos, oatmeal, beans, green tea, ginger, grapefruits, apples, coffee, almonds, blueberries, watermelons and turkey can all help boost your metabolism.

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

From South Bend,

Kevin

Heavy Weights or Light Weights?

Heavy Weights or Light Weights?

People who skip breakfast are 450% more likely to be obese! Fuel up with a high protein/fiber breakfast to kick-start your day.

I get this questions all the time. “Should I lift heavy weights for low reps or light weight for high reps?” The common misconception in the fitness world is simple. To tone, use high reps with light weights. To bulk up use heavy weights with low reps. This is why you often see women doing lighter weight and more aerobic exercise while men are primarily lifting heavier weights to bulk up. NOT SO FAST!

New Research

New research and studies show that both men and women can largely benefit from the use of both heavy weight with low reps and light weight with high reps. The key is pushing your muscles to fatigue. Straining to lift very heavy weights isn’t the only way to pump up muscles, say researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Similar results can be achieved, they say, by lifting light weights a greater number of times.The secret is simply to pump iron until muscle fatigue sets in, says Stuart Phillips, PhD, associate professor of kinesiology at McMaster.“Rather than grunting and straining to lift heavy weights, you can grab something much lighter but you have to lift it until you can’t lift it any more,” Phillips says in a news release.

The Science

Researchers recruited 15 healthy men with an average age of 21. Each was told to lift light weights and heavy weights with varying repetitions.

  • The weights represented a percentage of their best or heaviest lift. Heavier weights were set to 90% of a man’s best lift, and light weights at 30%.
  • Weights were set to 80% to 90% of a person’s best lift required five to 10 repetitions before fatigue set in. At 30%, it took at least 24 lifts before similar fatigue developed.
  • The researchers measured fatigue at the cellular level by examining results of muscle biopsies done 4 hours and 24 hours after workouts.
The Results

Similar amounts of protein used in muscle-building were produced whether volunteers lifted at 90% of their maximums until they ran out of steam and when they lifted only 30% of their best until they could lift no more, the researchers say. The key in both instances was lifting until fatigue. If in either set the subject stopped short of fatigue there was less of a muscular response.

Why This Is Important For You

Subjects trying to lose/maintain weight-Often times people are discouraged from lifting weights because they think it’s specific for body builders or those want to bulk up. The truth is that muscle mass is largely dependent on genetics, cells, diet, and hormones within the body. If you are a woman trying to maintain or lose weight, lifting weights is not going to make you bulk up.First, it is physiologically impossible for you as a woman to put on large amounts of muscle mass; you’re body’s hormonal makeup is not one that will allow you to do so. I cringe when I see people coming into the gym and going for a light jog on the treadmill every day for a half hour when their time and effort could be used much more efficiently doing full body/weighted exercises. People don’t understand that performing these exercises will burn fat more efficiently and help redefine your body composition.

For kids– Parents are afraid to let their kids lift weights because they think it will inhibit joint and growth plate progression. Light weights and high reps can provide less joint and bone strain while still producing the essential benefits you get from lifting weights and exercising.

For older adults or people with injuriesOlder adults and people with injuries can have joint problems or limited range of motion which would prevent them from training with heavy loads.  This study shows that they have the option of training with lighter and less intimidating loads and can still receive the benefits.

The Catch

While light weights and high reps can still activate the anabolic response in your muscles and produce similar muscle volume characteristics as heavy weights, pure strength gains are better generated by using heavy weights with low reps. There is also some debate about whether heavier weights gives you more of a myogenic tone ( A harder and firmer look) and training in higher rep ranges promotes more sarcoplasmic (fluid) hypertrophy (which in turn yields a “softer” pumped look). This is a topic for an entire blog in itself but regardless, experts agree that similar benefits can be achieved through lifting both heavy and light weights. The key is working to fatigue.

My Recommendation

Here is my current routine that I think people will find very useful and easily adaptable no matter what your fitness goals are.

Monday: Total Body: Heavy Weights With Core

Tuesday: Sprint Intervals

Wednesday: OFF

Thursday: Total Body: Heavy Weights With Core

Friday: Sprint Intervals or Steady State Elliptical

Saturday: OFF

Sunday: Total Body Light Weights/High Reps With Core (For the past month I have been doing a body pump class which consits of 4-5 minutes of each major muscle group lifting light weight until exhaustion. Takes about 45 minutes)

For another great study on this topic check out this article at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120430105358.htm

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

From South Bend,

Kevin

The Truth About Nutrition Bars

The Truth About Nutrition Bars

In a recent study published by consumerlabs.com 30 nutrition bars were broken down/analyzed and over 60% of the bars failed to meet labeling claims! What is really in your “health or nutrition bar”?

Thank you to Rachel for the suggestion on this topic.

Meal replacement bars, snack bars, weight loss bars, energy bars, and protein bars are a convenient and easy way for people to get a quick snack or meal when they are on the go. The problem is that 99% of the products out there are loaded with carbs and sugars that spike insulin levels and promote fat storage. Despite the hidden ingredients and artificial additives, marketing gurus have duped consumers into thinking that these “nutrition bars” are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals when in reality this is far from the truth. The FDA claims that it currently does not have any formal guidelines for nutrition bars or the labeling on nutrition bars.

The Breakdown

“Protein Bar” is an extremely deceptive term.  Most bars contain more carbs than protein. The consumer labs study found that a typical bar is made up of

  • 49% of calories from carbohydrates (mostly from sugars)
  • 29% of calories from protein
  • 22% of calories from fat
What To Stay Away From 
Clif Bars
The concern here is the 45 grams of carbs and 21 grams of sugar (for comparison a snickers bar has 35 grams of carbs and 28 sugars). If you are not an endurance athlete than that amount of carbs in the form of a small snack is way to high. Ever notice how the Clif Bar rapper conveniently covers the ingredient list. Here is why. With over 30 ingredients, it is hard to decipher what exactly the bar is made up of.  Organic rice syrup, evaporated cane juice, organic evaporated can juice, organic date paste, are all fancy names for sugar that make up this so-called “nutrition bar”. While ingredients like evaporated cane juice are not as detrimental to refined sugar, it is close enough.
The Take Away– Stay away from Clif bars
Atkins Advantage Bar
With Atkins Advantage you get more bang for you buck because the lower carb and sugar levels. You also get a solid 15 grams of protein with only 210 calories. The unfortunate part is the saturated fat and ingredients. With over 50 ingredients, there are several hidden land mines such as glycerin, sucralose, cellulose, artificial flavors, which are all code names for SUGARS!
The take away- Eat only if there is no whole/unprocessed foods available like fruit or nuts.
Nature Valley Bar
I commend General Mills for their bold and forthright honesty. They are not trying to hide anything. The second ingredient is SUGAR! With high levels of carbohydrates and sugar, nature valley bars have nothing “natural” about them. High fructose corn syrup and brown sugar syrup are two ingredients that have single handily added to the obesity problems in the US.
The take away- Don’t even think about it
Power Bars
This label is also very informative as it provides the disclaimer that the FDA has no regulation over these “health bars”. With 45 carbs,  27 grams of sugar, ingredients such as evaporated cane juice, glucose syrup, and fructose, a power bar is basically a glorified candy bar. At least they have less than 30 ingredients as opposed to some of the other examples listed right?
The take away- If you are going to have something with the nutritional equivalent of a candy bar why not actually have a candy bar that tastes great? Opt for a snickers or twix instead.
Why so much sugar?

In their early development, nutrition bars were bland and primarily eaten by fitness enthusiasts. However, the bars underwent a transformation to appeal to general consumers. The bland, stiff, and protein packed bars didn’t necessarily appeal to the general population. To compensate, manufacturers made their products more flavorful by adding corn syrup, sugar, sugar alcohols, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, colors and hydrogenated oils, which are all bad for your health.

What To Eat Instead

Kind Bar

Definitely the best nutrition bar out there. The calorie, carbohydrate, protein, and sugar content is a well-balanced mixture that can provide an adequate snack  in between meals. What I love about these bars is the simplicity of the ingredients and the natural additives. Unlike the rest of the bars, you don’t see a list of 30 ingredients with names that are too long to pronounce.

The take away– A good snack that offers a variety from eating nuts or dried fruits by themselves or with trail mix.

Conclusion

As a general guideline, the less ingredients the better. Eating something in its most natural state is always your best bet. The best example I can think of is a product like peanut butter. When buying peanut butter look for one ingredient, PEANUTS! Avoid products with ingredients other than peanuts like what you see in most commercial products.  For example, Jif regular peanut butter’s list of ingredients includes peanuts, salt, sugar, fully hydrogenated vegetable oils, and diglycerides. I never encourage people to eat anything processed like nutrition bars but I understand there or some times when nothing else is available. If that is the case, choose something like a KIND Bar where there are only a few ingredients or prepare ahead and always carry around some nuts and fruits.

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

From South Bend,

Kevin

The Truth About Fruit

The Truth About Fruit

Fruits are a summer staple and excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Whether it’s the antioxidants from berries, the cold preventing properties of citrus fruits, or the hydration benefits of water based fruits like watermelon, each fruit has a unique set of benefits. The recommended daily amount of fruit  is dependent on total calorie intake but can lie anywhere between 3 and 7 servings. Here is an example of what you would be looking at to meet these requirements.

  • 1/2 cup (4 fluid oz.) 100% fruit juice
  • 1 medium fruit
  • 1/2 cup fresh, frozen or canned fruit
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit
Now Comes The Point Of This Article
With summer right around the corner, people start to become more concerned with their body image and composition. Being cognizant of  foods you are putting in your body is essential to a lean physique. Fruits are no exception. Believe it or not, too much fruit or the wrong fruits can lead to increased body fat due to an excess amount of sugar ( in the form of fructose and glucose). Especially for those that aren’t as active as they should be, (you know who you are) limiting carbohydrate and sugar intake is important to keeping body fat off.
What To Eat

Choose 3-4 low carb fruit servings
  • Berries– Blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are a staple in my diet. They are loaded with antioxidants, provide a great source of fiber, have a low glycemic value, and taste great. Add 1/2 cup to your oatmeal or breakfast in the morning (1/2 cup)
  1. Calories- 42
  2. Carbs- 12 g
  3. Fat- 0g
  4. Protein- 1 g
  5. Sugar-8g
  • Grapefruit– Grapefruits  have high amounts of water content which helps boost metabolism as well as containing numerous antioxidants. Grapefruits have a low glycemic value and contain soluble fiber which will help fill you up while being low in calories. (1/2 medium grapefruit)
  1. Calories- 40
  2. Carbs- 9g
  3. Fat- 0g
  4. Protein- 1g
  5. Sugar-5g
  • Watermelon– One of the main health benefits of watermelon is its status as a powerful antioxidant, found in vitamins A and C. Watermelons are moderately high in sugar with a glycemic value of 72, but small amounts, especially after a workout can be part of a healthy diet.  (1 wedge- approximately 1/16 of the watermelon)
  1. Calories- 86
  2. Carbs- 22g
  3. Fat- 0g
  4. Protein- 2 g
  5. Sugar-18g
  • Kiwi– Kiwifruits are an excellent source of vitamin C, as one large kiwifruit contains about as much vitamin C as 6 oz of orange juice. They are also a very good source of vitamin K, and a good source of potassium and copper. (1 medium sized fruit)
  1. Calories- 46
  2. Carbs- 11 g
  3. Fat- 0g
  4. Protein- 1g
  5. Sugar-7 g
When To Eat Fruit
  • In the mornings-A low glycemic fruit in the morning before breakfast will kick-start your day with powerful antioxidants and soluble fiber that will keep you feeling full. The sugar in the fruit will be burned off throughout your daily activities and workout as well. NOT AT NIGHT.  A midnight snack is OK but don’t reach for the fruit and think it’s a healthy choice. Fruit digests out of the stomach in 20-30 minutes. If fruit is consumed at night, it will sit on top of the slower digesting foods and cause indigestion/excess fat storage.
  • Before a workout– A simple carb (fruit) 30-60 minutes before a workout  will be converted into glucose and used by the body as energy during your workout.
  • After a workout– A simple carbohydrate within  30 minutes after your workout will help restore glycogen levels and raise insulin levels which will help  muscle growth. This is the only time of the day when a high glycemic fruit is acceptable such as a ripe banana or a dried apricot. Make sure you don’t overdo it on portion size and try to pair the simple carb with a protein source for an optimal recovery source.
Have an orange. Not orange juice

Fruits are essential to a well-balanced diet. Like all food, moderation is key. Whenever possible, stay away from fruit juices as most contain artificial sweeteners and loads of added sugars. Fruits like apples, bananas, and dried fruits have high amounts of sugars and carbohydrates and should be timed appropriately around your workout. Eat fruits that you will give you the most bang for your buck. Things like berries, which are loaded with antioxidants but relatively low in calories, carbohydrates, and sugars will help contribute to an optimal diet and ideal body composition.

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

From South Bend,

Kevin