Tag Archives: diet

What’s More Important — Diet or Exercise?

30 Apr

Your genetic “blueprint”dictates a lot about your fitnesshealth, and wellness.  But we all have a window of opportunity within which we can have an impact.

And, while diet and exercise are both significant contributors, you can impact your metabolism to a greater extent through exercise.

Simply stated, pound-for-pound, muscle burns more calories than fat.

The best way to build muscle and burn fat is high-intensity interval resistance training (HIRT).  HIRT continues to build muscle and burn fat even after you have left the gym.

In one recent Italian study, lifters doing HIRT burned 18% more calories 22 hours after exercising than individuals who did traditional strength training.

Next time you’re in the weight room, try this approach:  Choose three exercises.  Start with the first exercise and, using 80-85% of your 1 rep max, do 6 reps and rest 20 seconds; do 2-3 reps and rest 20 seconds; do 2-3 reps.  That’s one set.  Do 7 sets of all three exercises.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Nutrient Timing — It’s More Important Than You Think

23 Apr

We all know that what you eat is important, but so is when you eat, especially if you’re active. In this infographic, John Berardi, Ph. D., and founder of Precision Nutrition, shares his thoughts regarding what to eat before, during, and after exercise.

This informative resource breaks down workout nutrition based on body type and composition, portion sizes, and protein and carbohydrate consumption.

Check it out!

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Eat Fewer Foods with Added Sugar

11 Dec

Want to make a dietary change that will help you feel better, look better, and perform better?  Start by minimizing (or avoiding) foods with added sugar.

By reducing or eliminating foods with added sugar from your diet, you will eat fewer carbs.  This strategy, combined with increasing your protein consumption, can lower your calorie intake and optimize hormones that regulate fat burning.

Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared.  They are listed in food labels under a wide variety of names, including corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, sucrose, and — of course — sugar, to name just a few.  This does not include naturally occurring sugars such as those in milk and fruits.

Added sugars, which are sprinkled on and processed into packaged foods and beverages, have become all too common in the American diet, says the American Heart Association. The group argues that sugar bingeing is helping drive the uptick in metabolic changes in the American population, including the exploding obesity rate (U.S. News and World Report).

Added sugars are commonly found in foods and beverages, such as:

  • regular soft drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks
  • candy
  • cakes
  • cookies
  • pies and cobblers
  • pastries, sweet rolls, and doughnuts
  • fruit drinks
  • dairy desserts

Check your food labels.  If the foods you usually eat contain added sugar, especially as one of the first few ingredients listed, consider it a red flag.  You can do better by choosing a healthier alternative.

Already doing a good job avoiding foods with added sugars?  The next step is reducing your consumption of refined grains, such as white bread, white rice, etc.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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You Can’t “Out-Train” a Bad Diet

30 Aug

Some of the athletes with whom I work are under the impression that, because they are active and workout regularly, they can eat whatever they want.  The truth is, the quantity, quality, and timing of your diet can make a difference in your training results and your performance, over time.  Your nutrition has a bigger impact on your body than you may realize.

Eating the right foods, in the appropriate quantities, at the right times, can complement your strength and conditioning efforts, and improve your body’s effectiveness and efficiency — as well as your overall health and wellness.  Here are some diet and nutrition tips that go “hand-in-hand” with your training:

  • Eat more frequently — 4-6 small meals and snacks per day — to stay satisfied and avoid hunger-induced binging
  • Snack on foods like fruits and veggies, Greek yogurt, and nuts and seeds
  • Reduce portion size to about the size of your fist
  • Choose lean proteins – tuna, salmon, egg whites, lean beef, turkey breast, ground turkey
  • Increase your daily protein consumption to about 0.6-0.8 grams per pound of body weight
  • Avoid sugary beverages and drink more water
  • Opt for healthy (unsaturated) fats, like those found in olive oil, nuts and nut butters, and salmon
  • Eat whole-grain, high-fiber carbs
  • Know your ideal, daily caloric intake and manage it, accordingly
  • Track your daily calories; you may be surprised

Eat healthy — don’t let your diet sabotage your training efforts and performance results.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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How to Eat Clean

9 Dec

Balanced-Meal[1]Here’s a nice resource from nutritionist, Amanda Carlson-Phillips.  The article, titled, How to Eat Clean, clarifies what it means to “eat clean,” and emphasizes the importance of avoiding processed foods and choosing nutrient-dense foods that are low in fat, high in fiber, and loaded with essential vitamins and minerals.

Amanda also discusses the benefits of clean eating, and that moderation is the key — not necessarily an extreme, fanatical approach.  She provides some simple tips for clean eating, and examples of “clean foods” from different food groups.

Please also see related article: Eat Clean, Get Lean, Feel Great

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Break Your Soda Addiction (Here’s Why)

14 Nov

Nodiet-soda[1]I’m not a big fan of extreme, fanatical diets or nutrition plans.  In my experience, with hundreds of clients, they don’t have a lot of “staying power.”  If you like Oreos, have one or two, occasionally.  You’re a fan of Buffalo wings?  Treat yourself to a few every now and then.  The point is, denying yourself an occasional indulgence is not necessary, provided you follow your nutrition plan and stay on track the majority of the time.  However, there are some good reasons to be even more careful about your soda consumption (or, even better, get rid of it altogether).

I’m reasonably sure you’ve heard and read plenty about why soda (yes, even diet soda) is bad for you. It’s nothing but sugar-water. It’s devoid of any nutritional value. It leads to obesity and diabetes. In the article, 9 Disturbing Side Effects of Soda, Rodale News details nine other disturbing facts about what soda does to your body,  Please check out the article to read more about why you should finally eliminate soda from your diet.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Be Aware of What (and how) You Eat

28 Oct

exps26136_C1442965D51B[2]Being aware of what you eat can help you make better food choices.  I’m not necessarily talking about dieting or limiting your calories (although quantity should be part of the equation for many of us).  Nor am I suggesting that you limit yourself to only certain recipes or foods.  In fact, nutritional awareness is just as much about how you eat as what you eat.

Here are a few tips to help you focus on the “how,” as it relates to your eating:

  • Consider how hungry you really are before eating.  Try to match the amount of food you eat to your hunger, and not necessarily your appetite.
  • Try eating with your non-dominant hand.  This will slow down your eating, allowing for that full feeling to take effect earlier in your meal, and help you avoid overeating.
  • Choose open-faced sandwiches and eliminate half of the bread or bun — and half of its carbs and calories.
  • Take mini water breaks between bites of food.  Not only will this slow down your eating, it will also help you feel fuller without adding calories.
  • Don’t deny yourself an occasional indulgence, but try to limit “cheat” calories to no more than 10% of your total daily calories.
  • Plan ahead and pack your own healthy meals and snacks.  A little foresight and planning — even the night before — can really improve your daily nutrition.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Whole Grain Doesn’t Always Mean High Fiber

7 Oct

fiber-one-cereal[1]I think everyone should be able to read and understand food labels, but I don’t always like the way manufacturers use this information to mislead us.  For example, just because a product claims to be “whole grain” doesn’t necessarily mean it is high in fiber.

As a matter of fact, the criteria for a food to be able to claim “100% Whole Grain” and “Whole Grain” are based on whole grain — and not fiber — content.  That’s why sugary cereals can claim to be whole grain and contain just 1-2 grams of fiber per serving.  Some of these whole grain foods contain more sugar and calories than those without the whole grain stamp.

You’re better off looking for foods with a 10:1 ratio of carbohydrates to fiber, or lower (Cheerios, for example, has a 7:1 ratio).  Foods with this ratio have more fiber and less sugar than those foods with higher ratios.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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The Worst Breakfast is No Breakfast

5 Oct

Breakfast[1]I always enjoy traveling to different schools and organizations to discuss Strength & Conditioning, Speed & Agility, and Nutrition.  Invariably, when discussing nutrition, we touch upon the importance of breakfast.  When I tell the audience that any breakfast is better than no breakfast, I usually get a few sarcastic responses like, “what about donuts?” or some other sweets or junk food.  Although I differentiate between a healthy, nutritious breakfast and a less sensible option, the point is this:  Eat something — anything — within 30-90 minutes of waking.  It will set the tone for the rest of your day.  It’s not that the quality of what you eat is unimportant, but the benefits of eating breakfast are indisputable:

  • Improves physical and mental health
  • Improves behavior and performance
  • Kick-starts your metabolism
  • Improves your mood
  • Boosts your energy level
  • Helps to minimize daytime hunger

Like any other meal or snack, the key is to aim for balance: clean carbohydrates (whole grains, high-fiber), lean protein, and healthy (unsaturated) fats.  Protein for breakfast is a must.  Eating a protein-rich breakfast can energize you, reduce food cravings, and prevent overeating later, according to research from the University of Missouri.

Don’t get hung up on eating “breakfast” food for breakfast… eat whatever you want.  Just keep it sensible, nutritious, and balanced.  Leftovers from last night’s dinner?  Eat ’em.

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Consistency is the Key

21 Dec

Consistency[1]I have a few clients who show up to train, sporadically, and are puzzled as to why they don’t seem to make any real progress.  I’ll see them maybe once or twice over the span of weeks or months.  Some of them think their exercise selection is the problem.  They want to try all kinds of different modes of exercise (which is not necessarily a bad thing), but they don’t stick with any of them on a regular basis.

The reality is, you don’t have to take an extreme or fanatical approach in the weight room to be productive.  Same goes for your speed training and diet. Establish a goal, create a plan, ensure that your plan is aligned with your goal, and commit to it on a regular basis.  I realize that’s easier said than done, but the process itself is not complicated.

Strength and Conditioning

Research shows that strength training two days per week — about 30 minutes per session — can help individuals build strength, power, muscle mass, and endurance.  Focus on exercises that work large and multiple muscle groups like the squat, deadlift, bench press, and row.  As a rule, choose free weights over machines.  Free-weight exercises generally require more balance and stability to perform, increasing the intensity level and degree of difficulty.

Speed and Agility

Strength training plays a key role in the development of speed and agility (remember, speed and agility is largely impacted by the amount of force you can generate against the ground; stronger legs generate greater force).  You can be more efficient with high-intensity interval training (HIIT), regardless of your mode of cardio training (run, bike, elliptical, treadmill, etc.).  Try this 10-minute approach: go hard (aggressive pace) for 30 seconds, and easy (very light pace) for 90 seconds.  Repeat four more times.

Diet and Nutrition

Follow the 80/20 rule.  Adhere to your diet and nutrition plan, strictly, 80% of the time.  Allow yourself a “cheat” meal every fifth day.  I’ve read about a physician who recommends 10% discretionary calories, every day, for his patients.  For example, on a 2,000 calorie per day diet, you could eat 200 calories worth of whatever you want, every day — but only 200 calories — as long as you stick to your plan for the other 1,800 calories.  This plan allows his patients to reward themselves for “good” behavior (positive reinforcement).

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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