Tag Archives: protein

What Does it Mean to “Eat Right”?

Eat right and exercise – the generic plan for most who embark on the journey to getting better, healthier. At the turn of the New Year, it was the promise or resolution made by many. Now at almost half way through only the second month of the year, did they ever clearly know what it meant? Exercise is easy, right? Join a gym or a program, start running, or use the exercise equipment received over the holidays. But eat right right? What does that even mean?


Eating right has got to mean eating more fruits and vegetables and I think most would agree. No one has gained weight from overeating vegetables or fruit. But wait! I thought fruit was dangerous from the sugar. Hold on. Proof number one of the dietary myths that permeate the landscape. Fruit in and of itself is nature’s candy sweetened by a substance known as fructose. However, in the presence of the fiber and water that accompanies fruit that is consumed should offset the “fear” of eating fruit for its sugar content. Fruit juice on the other hand is simply sugar flavored water, no where near the same thing. While most would agree consuming more fruits and vegetables is a good start, I would question where or how they actually increase consumption of the two. Potatoes are not a vegetable. They are a starch. Corn is the same thing. A starch is defined as a type of carbohydrate, or more specifically a complex carbohydrate, since it is made up of long chains of sugar molecules. Other sources are peas, beans, pasta, rice and grains. No vegetables here. What about the dangers of carbohydrates? Proof number two of bad dietary myths. Carbohydrate is an essential macronutrient to our living, functioning bodies. A small, small percentage of the population has to control and monitor their carbohydrate consumption due to its effects on their blood sugar. For most of us, carbohydrate presents no reason to avoid it like the plague. Its gross popularity has grown from the simple fact that we consume way too much food in general, not just carbohydrate. Carbohydrate gets its undeserved reputation because it’s in more than 70% of all food consumed. Eliminate or drastically drop how much carbohydrate you consume and of course changes are going to occur. You do the math! What about meats and proteins? Everything from grass-fed, to antibiotic, cage free, wild caught, sustainable, etc. has created a big furor of, “What the hell am I supposed to eat?”. These terms are only meant to describe how the animal is treated and/or harvested. Says nothing about a protein being good or bad. Protein is another important macronutrient to the body and vitally important because our bodies don’t manufacture protein on its own, a component to all living tissues and cells.So my question again is, do people really know what it means to eat right?

A General Consensus

Most of us will eat the way we were raised; what we learned from our parents. Food science has changed a little bit, but not that much. Fat, protein, and carbohydrate are essentially the same thing we knew them to be over 100 years ago. We have a better understanding of how we react to certain macronutrients but in small percentages, not the vast population that marketers and the pseudoscience would have you believe. Nutrition is a very individual concept. What works for others may or may not work for you. As frustrating as that may seem, you have to go with what works for you and no one or no diet may have the answer for you. Not overeating is a great start and if you think you don’t overeat, I would suggest examining closer just how much you consume. Quantity and quality of food are very different. Cut down on the amount of everything you consume and instead focus on quality of the food you consume (less processed, less dining out, etc.) and you’ll be on a better way to eating right.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

12 Days of Fitness 2018: Day 8 – Dieting Made Simple

(This is part 8 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

I can’t stand diets. In fact, if you tell me you’re on a diet or just trying to “jump start” your metabolism I interpret that as you’re prepared to fail. And why do I feel that way? Plain and simple, DIETS JUST DON’T WORK! Period! You’d think after all of these years of constant failures we would get the message. This time of year, people often look to trend diets for a quick way to lose weight. But, as I’d hope you know and understand, sustainable, healthy eating habits are the key to achieving lasting results. No question. It’s not easy but proven to be much more successful in the long term, which should be the goal. Here are a few simple tips and I emphasize simple.

1. Eat a variety of colorful fruits & vegetables. But you knew that already, right?
2. Consume protein at regular intervals throughout the day. Protein is the only macronutrient our bodies must consume from the outside. Fat and carbohydrate can both be manufactured by the body. And the importance of protein cannot be understated. Everything about you minus bone is made of protein. Digest that one.
3. Focus on consuming healthy fats. Fat is not the enemy. To lump them all together is admittance in not knowing or understanding basic nutrition. And fat does not make you fat. Energy (calorie) excess does.
4. Choose whole grains when available. Carbs are not the enemy either. To lump them all together is also another admittance in not knowing or understanding basic nutrition. Carbohydrates is the preferred energy source of the body.
5. Drink fluids throughout the day and during exercise based on individual needs. Hydration is key and is not to be taken lightly.

That’s it! Simple, right? There’s no sexy way to go about it other than to stop confusing real nutritional science with the ton of nutritional pseudoscience that’s out there. May be the day will come where the consumer is wiser than the manufacturers will give us credit for. Until then, you must fight on.

See you tomorrow for Day 9 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.


Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #1 – Weight Loss Once and For All
Day #2 – 10 Pieces of Equipment Everyone Needs to Work Out at Home
Day #3 – Are You Afraid of Eating Fruit?
Day #4 – Healthy Foods?
Day #5 – 21 Ways to Combat Emotional Eating
Day #6 – 8 Reasons Why Your Workout is Failing You
Day #7 – The Problem With Added Sugars


12 Days of Fitness 2017: Day 8 – 7 Common Myths About Fat Loss

(This is part 8 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

As it is with many subjects, fat loss is awash with mythology. What’s unfortunate is that most people blindly follow the latest and greatest “fad” or are clinging to outdated information that in the end really hurts their efforts to get leaner. Then there all of the ridiculous programs promising to “cleanse” the body and “reset” the metabolism as if there were some magic ctrl-alt-delete feature for the body. Furthermore, weight loss and fat loss are not synonymous with each other as there can be weight loss without fat loss and vice versa. Following are what I consider to be a few of the many myths about fat loss in the hopes of offering you some clarity.

  1. Eating For Fat Loss Isn’t Always The Same As Eating For Good Health

Despite what various diet marketers will tell you, losing weight is pretty much all about calorie control. Sure, the proportion of fats, proteins, and carbs do play a role (more about that later in this article), but ultimately, if you consume less energy than you expend, you’ll lose weight, even if those calories come from “unhealthy” foods or food ingredients. Now there’s an interesting corollary to this: if you’re fat — let’s say even obese — you’ll improve your health by getting leaner, regardless of what you ate to lose the weight. I’m not necessarily suggesting you eat “bad” foods to lose weight; I’m just trying to achieve some clarity on this subject. And as much as many people will cringe when I say this, but you can and will lose weight eating cookies and chips and ice cream and any other forbidden foods you can imagine, as long as you eat too little of these foods. Again, I’m not advocating these foods; I’m just making a point.

  1. The Dangers Of “Chemicals” And Food Processing Are Largely Overblown

Why you ask? Well for starters, everything you eat or drink is a chemical, and everything you eat or drink has been processed to some degree. With that being said, some chemicals are less healthy than others, and of course, some types of food processing are worse than others. As the old saying goes, “the devil is in the dose:” even pure spring water will kill you if you drink too much of it. And even arsenic is safe if you consume a small enough amount of it. This isn’t to say that you should be completely indiscriminate in your food consumption. Some types of processing, such as trans fats, have been shown to adversely affect human health. Other types of food additives and processing methods are still the subject of vigorous debate in scientific circles. With that said, is there really a downside to eating an extremely “natural,” totally organic, and/or “unprocessed” diet? Aside from the potential expense, probably not. It’s just that such an overly cautious approach probably isn’t necessary. So why make things more difficult than they need to be?

  1. No Single Food Is “Fattening”

I mean that literally. Ice cream isn’t fattening. Big Macs aren’t fattening. Pizza isn’t fattening. What is fattening then? Eating too much food relative to your energy needs. Once again, pizza and ice cream certainly aren’t “helpful” foods if you’re attempting to lose weight, and they’re also not particularly great for your long-term health. But they certainly can be eaten as a part of a fat loss strategy, as long as your overall food intake is appropriate.

  1. Low/No Carb Diets Can (And Often Do) Work, But Not For The Reason You Might Think

People love weight loss diets that give you hard and fast rules, and I understand why: it removes the uncertainty from the process. So I’m not against rules necessarily, nor am I necessarily “against” low carb diets, but it’s important to understand that they don’t work for the reasons that their proponents state. For example, the common rationale usually put forth about low carb diets is that when you eat carbs, your body produces insulin, which is a fat-storage hormone, so the result is, you get fat. There are a few problems about this scenario however: First, insulin does act as a fat storage hormone, but it also has very beneficial properties also — that’s why it exists in the first place after all. Secondly, carbs aren’t the only types of food that produce insulin — proteins for example, also stimulate insulin production. Third, your body can store fat without insulin. So even if you find a way to totally prevent insulin secretion, it doesn’t mean you can’t still gain weight. So how do low carb diets work? Any time you remove large categories of food from your diet (such as carbohydrate-containing foods, or animal-based foods, just to cite two common examples), you tend to eat less, and therefore, you lose weight. Simple right? Actually, it’s so simple most people never consider it.

  1. Most People Have No Idea How Much They Eat

If losing weight isn’t about what types of foods you eat, but rather, how much you eat, then it’d certainly be important to know how much we’re eating, right? Unfortunately, research has shown over and over that most of us tend to significantly under-estimate how much we eat, and most people also tend to over-estimate how much physical activity they do over the course of a day. The solution? Self-monitoring. By the way, the most common characteristic among people who lose weight and keep it off for long term is self-monitoring.

  1. It Doesn’t Really Matter How Many Times A Day You Eat

 One of the oft-repeated myths about nutrition and fat loss is the idea that “you need to eat every 2-3 hours to keep your metabolism from slowing down.” Like most folklore, there is a kernel of truth in this idea: going long periods with no food does indeed decrease your metabolic rate, and eating anything does in fact speed up your metabolism. But when you look at the science, what we find is that, on a practical level, it doesn’t make much difference if you eat twice a day or 6 times a day. What does  matter is how much you eat in 24 hours.

So if you’re one of those people who don’t get hungry until noon or so, don’t worry about eating breakfast. Or, if you find that your energy levels and overall mood is better when you eat more frequently, go with that. In other words, use whatever meal timing and frequency that will make your overall nutrition program more effective and easier to comply with. Just make sure that in the space of 24 hours, your caloric intake and nutritional needs are being met.

  1. Fiber And Protein Make Any Diet More Successful

As a final suggestion, I’d like to leave you with a quick and easy tip that will make any nutritional program more effective, both in terms of weight loss and long term health: Most people would be better off with more fiber and more protein. There are a number of benefits to both, but for this discussion, I’m mostly talking about the satiety (feeling of fullness) that these two nutrients provide. The irony is however, that calorie per calorie, foods with a relatively high protein and/or fiber content are much more satisfying on a calorie per calorie basis. Feeling full is a GOOD thing because it makes you less likely to binge on less-productive types of foods.

See you tomorrow for Day 9 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.


Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #1 – Top 10 Reasons Why People Don’t Exercise
Day #2 – The Dangers of Dieting
Day #3 – The New Rules to Strength Training
Day #4 – How to Stay in Shape When You’re Busy
Day #5 – How Natural is “Natural Flavoring”?
Day #6 – Understanding Food and Nutrition Labels
Day #7 –  Minimalist Fitness






12 Days of Fitness 2016: Day 8 – The 10 Biggest Lies of the Weight Loss Industry

(This is Part 8 of a 12 part series to provide you with some useful health and fitness info over the holiday season)

The weight loss industry is big business, grossing nearly $60 billion per year (and still growing). It grows nearly parallel to the increasing obesity levels worldwide. I don’t know about you, but that clearly means to me it’s not working or people just don’t care. I like to think that the $60 billion makes me believe otherwise. Couple that with fellow “colleagues” (I use the term very loosely) in the fitness industry who claim to offer all the outrageous solutions and you have a land of confusion. Both industries are full with false truths, misleading info, scams, and lies. It’s time to start ignoring the propaganda and listen to the truth, although not always as sexy or glamourous and selling boat loads of books and magazines.

Lie #1 – Fast Weight Loss is to be Expected

Popular media and  TV shows like The Biggest Loser reporting dramatic body transformation that make headlines perpetuate the idea that you should be able to lose 5lbs a week, or even 30lbs in a month. This can happen, but is a far cry from the norm. Most people will safely lose between .5-1% of their body mass per week. This will ensure maximal muscle retention while losing body fat. The Truth: Don’t expect to lose 50lbs in a couple of months. Real life transformations take time. The dramatic transformations you see can inspire you to make positive change, but they can also discourage you when you don’t get similar results. Be patient. Strive to make continual progress, however small that progress may be. Want to make a difference? Do your part to stop the lies and feel free to share this article!

Lie #2 – Fitness Magazines and Tabloids

There are some good magazines out there, but I’d say 90% of the ones you see at the checkout registers are plastered with attention-grabbing headlines that are flat out lies. Women’s health and fitness magazines are the worst offenders. Headlines like “get abs by next week”, or “10 exercises to tone your butt in no time”, are put on the cover to sell magazines, usually accompanied by some celebrity who recently lost some weight. The Truth: You are being told what you want to hear so that you will hand over your hard earned money. There is nothing easy and fast about transforming your body and life. Don’t get fooled.

Lie #3 – Weight Loss All Comes Down to Eating Less and Exercising More

If it were only that easy. Tell that to all the people eating 1200 calories per day and doing an hour or more of cardio but can’t lose weight. Unfortunately, that scenario is far too common . Weight loss is a function of negative energy balance over time. However, a negative energy balance isn’t automatically created by eating less and moving more. That’s because your metabolism adapts to large calorie deficits by down-regulating important fat loss hormones and by using the calories you eat more efficiently. You might lose weight quickly for a while, but that is sure to come to an end in time. The Truth: Sustainable weight loss all comes down to eating as many calories as possible that still enables you to lose weight, while exercising safely and effectively with the ultimate goal of improving your health and fitness.

Lie #4 – You Need to Create a 500 Calorie Daily Deficit to Lose 1 Pound

We’ve all heard that there’s approximately 3500 calories in a pound. Based on that, the standard advice is to eat 500 calories per day less to lose 1lb per week. Lucky for us, that math doesn’t always transfer over to the real world. The problem with this advice is it starts people out with lower than needed calories right from the get go, and when their weight loss stalls, they cut another 500 calories from their diet – effectively lowering their calorie intake to close to nothing. The Truth: Even small reductions in food intake can cause significant weight loss. Many times a 100 calorie reduction per day is enough to see your 1lb/week weight loss pace continue forward.

Lie #5 – Eating 5-6 Small Meals a Day is Best for Weight Loss

That’s the standard advice that’s been coached for years. Usually it’s 3 meals and 2-3 snacks. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this advice accept for the fact that a vast majority of the population has a difficult time fitting that many meals into their lifestyle. The good news is that it makes no significant difference whether you get 2000 calories from 5 meals or 2000 calories from 3 meals. At the end of the day you’re still eating 2000 calories and creating the same calorie deficit. The Truth: When deciding on a meal frequency you should choose one that you’re going to be able to stick with for the long term. Eating 6 meals a day is not best for you if it causes you so much stress trying to sneak in a meal that you end up giving up on your eating plan.

Lie #6 – You Can Target Fat Loss in a Certain Area With Exercise

Spot reduction is a myth that never seems to die. Entire fat loss programs are based around the concept of blasting away fat in particular areas (think buns of steel, or one of the hundreds of six pack abs programs). If only it were that easy. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to choose where the fat went on, and we don’t get to choose where it comes off either. The Truth: Fat loss is systemic, not localized. Combining a quality diet that maintains a calorie deficit with a balanced exercise program is the only way to lose fat from all those trouble areas.

Lie #7 – All Food Labeled as Healthy is Healthy

Food marketers have really started to push the legal limits of what’s considered true and what’s not. There has been a huge boom lately in the health food industry. It seems food manufacturers are trying to make a healthy version of every “pleasure” food you can imagine.  A processed food is a processed food, and it doesn’t matter if it’s made with all organic ingredients or not. Sure, it’s nice to not have that artificial crap in it, but the healthy cookie is still packed with sugar and flour, and is void of any real nutrition. The Truth: Food marketers have almost free reign to sell on the fronts of food packaging, but they are much more tightly regulated when it comes to the food label on the back. Look closely at the ingredients section. If the first ingredients are sugar or flour, it’s likely not as healthy as the box claims.

Lie #8 – Use a Protein Powder if You Want to Lose Weight

The protein powder market is huge. Supplement sales total over $11 billion every year, and the biggest portion of that are protein supplements. Don’t get me wrong.  There’s nothing wrong with supplemental protein but it is not  going to help you lose weight if you don’t create an energy deficit. Products claiming to be weight loss powders should come with a big caveat – when used in conjunction with a quality diet and exercise program that maintains an energy deficit. The Truth: There’s no such thing as a weight loss protein powder. Protein powders are supplements. They should not take the place of real foods. While convenient, powders cannot compare to the vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant properties of whole foods. Feel free to use them, but don’t expect weight loss miracles.

Lie #9 – Every Single Weight Loss Commercial

I tried hard to think of a weight loss commercial that wasn’t packed with every marketing trick in the book. I’m sure they’re out there, but I’ve yet to see or hear one. Most of these commercials use gimmicks like lean fitness models demonstrating a product they have never used before. Then, they use words that speak right to your insecurities, followed by hope, and then a call to action to purchase their product at a discount if you act quickly. The Truth: If the product claims to help you lose weight fast and easy, while eating anything you want, without having to exercise, and you’ll be looking skinny like you did in high school, just laugh and give yourself more credit than that –  you’re not a fool.

Lie #10 – You Must Eat “X” Calories/Day to Lose Weight

I’m not exactly sure where these numbers came from: 1200 calories/day for women and 1800 calories/day for men. Supposedly it’s how much we’re supposed to eat to lose weight. Eating 1200 calories leaves you absolutely no room to further cut calories once your weight loss stalls, and it will stall. Pretty soon you’ll be eating under 1000 calories. That’s a recipe for unbearable hunger, nutrient deficiency, a slowing metabolism, and eventually giving up. The Truth: Eating less than 10 times your body weight is rarely needed to achieve weight loss, and most people can eat much more than that if they would just be patient and let their bodies adapt to a higher calorie intake.

See you tomorrow for Day 9 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better


Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day 1 – Why Not Eating Enough Won’t Help You Lose Weight
Day 2 – 5 Ways You’re Self-Sabotaging Your Workouts
Day 3 – 10 Fitness Fibs You Tell Yourself
Day 4 – Never Diet Again!
Day 5 – Benefits of Exercising in Winter – Outdoors!
Day 6 – Understanding Your Metabolism
Day 7 – The Most Addictive (And Least Addictive) Foods

Nutritional Common Sense

downloadPhilosopher Voltaire said, “Common sense is not so common.” While that could be true in most aspects of life, it is certainly accurate when it comes to healthy nutrition. Eat right and exercise is the common sense response you will get asking a neighbor or from listening to the morning talk shows to the million dollar question of what is the best way to get into shape and lose weight. Yet if the majority of people knew that to be true, why is there such an alarmingly high incidence of obesity in this country? Could it be that we just don’t eat right? Could it be that we just don’t exercise enough? Is it a combination of both? These questions pose interesting points to ponder; points that can not be easily answered in one word answers or explanations. However, the answers to these questions can be traced back to the source of the evil, and that evil is misinformation and confusion.  And nothing can cause more confusion than what does it exactly mean to eat right.

A Platter of Disaster

Each year, a new diet book debuts on The New York Times Best Sellers list that either completely contradicts the other diet books already on the infamous list, or simply adds to the confusion. One book preaches the “evil” of carbohydrate consumption; another one cites the necessity of eating foods in certain combinations; one talks about eating like caveman did; yet another claims that all one needs for optimal health is to eat a particular food item. What is one to do and who are you to believe?  If you kept track of everything you ever heard you were not supposed to eat, you would be left with nothing at all.  While so many people say they need to eat right, the truth is they really have no idea where to begin.  An understanding of nutrition fundamentals, not folklore, and a little common survival sense should clear some of that confusion.

In the Beginning

First, understand that at the cellular level, biochemically all humans are relatively the same.  That being said, what fundamentally affects one of us at the cellular level will most likely affect all of us.  There are only three sources of energy that our bodies can ingest.  They are collectively called macronutrients, better known as protein, carbohydrate, and fat.  Our bodies need all three sources of energy, so eliminating or drastically decreasing intake of any one of then with no consideration for what the effects and potential consequences are is like playing Russian roulette with your health.  Sure, you may see some immediate satisfaction, but chances are sooner or later it‘s all going to blow up in your face. It’s not as simple as eat this, not that, and there is no magical combination of foods that is going to yield a desired result.

Stop With The Dieting

Want to eat better and start feeling great – stop dieting! Looking closer at the root of the word “diet” and you will see the word d-i-e – die. To DIEt guarantees failure and not always in the short run, which is where too many of us have our focus.  If you still believe you must diet, ask yourself these questions: Is the diet realistic? Is the diet maintainable? Is the diet palatable? Is the diet livable? If you answered “No” to any of those questions, stop while you are ahead.  Learn to love and appreciate real food and make it a larger portion of your calorie intake as opposed to fast, packaged, and highly and deceivingly marketed processed food.

Keep It Real

What constitutes real food? Basically, any consumable that is as close to its original biological make up as possible: meats, fish, poultry, eggs, legumes, fruits, vegetables, unrefined sugars and starches, and water.  A movement known as “eating clean” has gained some popularity but here’s no objective definition of what that means. Packaged and processed food, even those labeled or perceived as healthy, are deceptive. Reading labels and recognizing more than just the calories but the ingredients will make you question a lot of what you put into your body.  It is however not always just about what you eat, but how much you eat.  Portion distortion is what the “experts” have named the typical American plate.  Our perception and the reality of meal portion sizes are vastly different.

Eating is a necessary and vital human function. Why it has become so gray and diluted is because people are always ready to make a buck at your expense. When it comes down to it, nutritional common sense comes down more to the two old axioms “You are what you eat”, and “You get out only what you put in.”  And that is all the nutritional common sense you will ever need.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

Can I Lose Fat Without Losing Muscle? 2013 – 12 Days of Fitness: Day 3

(This is Part 3 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

fatlargeThe #1 reason most people start an exercise program is to lose weight which unfortunately most times overlooks the other benefits of exercising. When someone says they want to lose weight they’re generally referring to losing the fat.  It’s an important distinction because losing weight and losing fat are two separate things. The goal with any type of such program should be to lose fat while maintaining and/or increasing lean (muscle) tissue mass. Inevitably due to improper training or adherence to dietary recommendations, lean tissue mass also decreases. Furthermore, fad or scheme dieting plans characteristically decrease body weight by decreasing muscle mass which is not good for long term successful fat loss. So is it possible to lose fat without losing muscle? Absolutely! It will take a little more effort than simply eating less and moving more, but the long term effect is sure winner. Here’s how.

Keep Your Calories Up

If you’ve ever began an exercise program to lose weight and after the initial couple of weeks progress stalled it’s because you’re not eating enough calories to lose weight. Contrary to what most believe, but when you go too low on calories, negative feedback survival mechanisms kick in such as a decreased metabolic rate, reduced thyroid output and lean tissue loss. Muscle becomes expendable because it burns too many valuable calories that are needed to maintain key body functions. Always better to err on the side of starting higher with your calories and then come down as needed – not vice versa.

Stimulate The Muscles

If you don’t give your body a reason to hold on to your muscle, it’s going to break it down and use it for energy. Some form of resistance training is mandatory if you want to lose fat without losing muscle. If you try dieting without any concern for muscle, you will still lose fat, but the ratio of weight loss will start shifting more towards muscle loss. As stated previously, weight loss and fat loss are not the same thing. If you want the majority of your weight loss to come from fat stores, give your body a good reason for why it should hang on to your muscle.

Keep Your Protein Intake High

Muscle is mostly made up of protein. Protein not only makes up your muscle tissue, it’s also a key component in every cell of your body. Protein is one of two essential macronutrients that you don’t want to under-consume. The amount of protein you need will vary based on many factors like your activity level and gender, but generally speaking, an intake of .8-1 gram/lb of lean body mass will be sufficient to maintain a positive nitrogen balance and prevent muscle wasting when under calorie restriction.

Don’t Run Out of Gas

Carbohydrates are stored in the muscle as glycogen where it can readily be broken down at the muscle for energy through two different pathways: aerobically and anaerobically. For short intensity activities such as lifting weights or H.I.I.T (high intensity interval training – proven to be most effective for fat loss) muscle glycogen is the primary source of energy for prolonged anaerobic activity. Without it or limited amounts, your workouts despite your best efforts will suffer. The easiest solution is to eat complex carbohydrates periodically throughout the day to build those stores.

Cut Back on the Cardio

For many people, cardio and weight loss go hand and hand. But here’s the truth – cardio exercise as you know it is not necessary to lose weight. Can you lose weight doing cardio? Of course you can. Is it necessary? No. The only thing that is necessary for weight loss is a calorie deficit. Better yet, find ways to make your strength training more intense so that you can incorporate cardiovascular training at the same time.

You don’t need to kill yourself with exercise every day of the week to get results. While you might burn a few hundred calories during your workout, you burn thousands the rest of the day just by being alive. Focus on using exercise to create a favorable metabolic environment and creating a sustainable calorie deficit through your diet to lose unwanted fat, not just weight.

See you tomorrow for Day 4 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

5 Health Myths and Their Close Examination – Part 1

scientist-microscope2The amazing thing about science is that we are always learning.  Like a reset button for our way of thinking, ideas or theories that were once accepted as true are amended or sometimes even completely thrown out as our knowledge gets better.  With exercise and nutrition, that phenomenon occurs all the time which is one of the reasons why I love to read and study about it as much as I do. In this post, I want to examine 5 of the common myths regarding nutrition and in a future post I will discuss some of the myths regarding exercise.

The Problem With Myths

Ever since the dawn of man, myths have proliferated every walk of life to the point where most don’t even know what the truth is anymore. Myths are generally never founded on pure factual data.  They are an interpretation or skewed vision of the reader seeing what they want to see from the data.  For example, the old axiom, “Is the glass half full or half empty?”, could go either way depending on who’s drawing the conclusion. Problem is myths tend to persevere because they become the popular thought, not one based on published or anecdotal research.  Case in point, here are 5 nutritional myths that have spawned not only our way of thinking, but created niche markets in both food advertising and pharmacology.

1. A diet high in saturated fat causes cardiovascular disease.

A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition combined the results of 21 previous studies and found that a diet higher in saturated fat was not linked to a higher risk of heart disease or stroke. That’s not to say saturated fat can’t be dangerous, but it also goes to show that the overall sentiment of the last 30 years to limit red meat and dairy was both overblown and inaccurate. Studies aren’t everything. And one study in isolation isn’t necessarily reliable. But 21 studies is a pretty good analysis to assess the impact. And when you consider the numerous benefits of other research on people who follow high protein/fat diets, it becomes easier to rest assured that fat (and saturated fat, specifically) is not the enemy.

2. Eating late at night makes you more likely to store fat.

When you find a study that shows that late night eating—in a calorie controlled environment—makes you fat, please let me know. Here’s what you really need to know about your body: It does not work on a 24-hour cycle. If you eat 2,000 calories in the morning and eat the same 2,000 calories at night, your body will process it the same way. In fact, when Israeli researchers compared people who at their biggest meal at breakfast to those who at their biggest meal after 8 pm, they discovered that the late-night eaters lost more weight and more body fat. What’s more, a study conducted by the USDA found similar findings: That people who ate most of their calories after 7 pm had more muscle and less fat. That’s not to say that you have to eat late at night. It just proves that the timing of your meals isn’t as important as you might have thought.

3. Eating multiple meals (4-6) speeds your metabolism more than eating fewer meals (2-3).

The myth about multiple meals started in the early 90s.  That’s when everyone began to move away from three square meals a day, and begin grazing on smaller snacks and meals. In theory, the concept was great, except for the part where an entire nation has become fatter over the last 20 years. When you eat, your body burns calories. This is known as the thermic effect of food (TEF). Every type of food (protein, carbs, fats) has a different TEF, with protein being the most “metabolic” food you can eat. However, the frequency of meals does NOT influence your metabolism, as shown in a study done at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Again, the point is NOT to say that eating 5 or 6 meals a day is bad. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with it. The best diet is the one that fits into your schedule and helps you stay consistent, whether it’s 3 meals, 6 meals, or grazing spread throughout the day. And the only “flaw” with the grazing method is that the size of our snacks has increased more than 200 calories during the last 30 years. So if that’s your preference, just make sure to watch your serving size.

4. Egg yolks are bad for your cholesterol.

This is one of my favorites but rest assured, eggs are not bad for you, and the yolk will not skyrocket your cholesterol. There’s so much research that disproves the theory that I could fill this entire article with links. In fact, not only has research shown no link between egg yolks causing cholesterol or heart problems, but researchers in Thailand found that eggs actually improve your HDL (the good cholesterol).  When it comes to eggs, the only thing you really need to keep an eye on is the fat content and how it fits into your daily goals. And yes, fat is fine. But too much of any nutrient is not good for you

5. A high-sodium diet is one of the biggest problems causing high blood pressure.

First thing to understand is that sodium is an electrolyte, an important mineral that aside being one of the primary charges of all muscle contractions, helps you hydrate when you’re sick or exhausted. We need salt in our diet to help maintain our natural blood pressure levels from dropping to low. Which is just another way of saying the war against salt has been overblown—and that’s probably an understatement. There’s a lot of salt in most people’s diets, but it’s not causing as much damage as you might believe. The people who are most at risk are those with very high blood pressure, and even then, you can still improve your health without a sodium adjustment. (eating more potassium can help counter the effect).  That’s not to say a very high sodium diet can’t have other health drawbacks, but the typical criticisms aren’t necessarily accurate. In people with healthy blood pressure—even those who eat much more salt than recommended—there’s not a need to make a dramatic change. In fact, some research even indicates that cutting out all sodium can lead you susceptible to other health problems.

As I stated previously that is the beauty of science – the landscape is ever-changing, and we’re always discovering new foods to eat, better ways to exercise, and more effective techniques to take care of our bodies. It’s why I’m committed to share the tips you need to live the life you want. Your health is what you make it. No amount of research could ever dictate all of the personal choices you make. And sometimes, research is just that: Information that occurs in a vacuum to help us question certain truths. But making informed decisions, and knowing why you take certain actions, is the foundation of any successful plan. You don’t have to be an expert to live a better life. You just need to give your body the time and information it deserves.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

My 2012 Fitness Challenge personal update – 26,300 push ups done as of publishing time