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Carbs: The Enemy Or The Answer?

carbs-pictureCarbohydrates have recently been under a lot of scrutiny in the weight loss world.  Many people think carbs are what is making them hold onto, or gain more fat on their frame. But, are carbs really to blame for that?  I’ll answer that in a minute, first lets talk about what carbohydrates are, and what they do.

 

Carbohydrates can come in two forms, simple and complex, and both get broken down by your body into sugars, which is how your body uses them as energy. We’ll start with simple carbs. You can probably guess what simple carbs mostly look like.  They are generally going to be things that are more like “treats.”  For example, white bread, candies, cakes, pies, and pop (or soda, depending on where you are in the world) are all types of simple carbs.  Ok, you’ve definitely had some experience with these carbs. I know I have!  So what then is a complex carbohydrate?  A complex carb has more to it than a simple carb. Complex carbs come from more fiber and starch based foods. A few examples of complex carbs are Potatoes, oats, fruits, vegetables, and whole grain rice/pasta. Don’t sound as exciting do they?

Ok, that is a really quick and easy difference between the two. Hopefully you’ll be able to tell which is which, and I’m sure you’ve heard people suggest that you limit the amount of simple carbs you eat, and try to get more complex carbs. I suggest that to clients all the time.  But, why? What is the actual benefit or harm between simple and complex carbs? It has to do with how they digest, and the nutritional benefits between the two types.

Carbs and weight loss

Carbs seem to have a big connection in the media and fitness world lately.  Carbohydrates definitely play a role in weight loss, but weight loss is still, and always will be based on eating fewer calories than you burn. No matter what type of calories they are, you have to burn more calories than you eat in order to lose weight.  Now, Many people think you shouldn’t eat any carbs, ever.  Many people think you should eat a high carb diet.  I’m of the opinion that you need carbs to survive, but finding the proper nutrient dense carbs (complex carbs) is the best way to do it.

Here’s why: Complex carbs can help fuel your body and provide a sustained energy supply to help you get through your day. Your brain also depends on carbs to function properly, so cutting them out of your diet all together isn’t a good idea. Simple carbs give you a little bit of energy, for a little bit of time. Then you crash…bummer, your boss found you sleeping on your keyboard…nobody wants that.

Simple carbs are probably helping to store a little bit of that winter insulation around your midsection…nobody wants that either.  Why does this happen?  When you eat simple carbohydrates (mostly sugar) your body digests them really quickly because there isn’t much of a nutrient composition for your body to break down. Remember, simple carbs are mostly made of sugar. When this happens all that sugar (that’s what carbs get broken down into in your body) gets into your blood stream, like ASAP.  It’s like doing the self checkout at Target with only one item, no time at all.  All that sugar in your blood stream causes your insulin levels to elevate, which isn’t a good thing in this scenario.  Insulin tells your body to use that sugar as energy or to store it as fat. But with all that sugar getting into your blood stream so fast, your body can’t use it all as energy, so guess what happens to it…..that’s right, it becomes that muffin top, or those bat wings…bummer.

Complex carbs also get broken down into sugars, but there is a big difference between the two that gives complex carbs the better outcome.  Complex carbs have more fiber. At Target, complex carbs are the worst. thing. EVER! They are like the new kid checking you out for the first time and you bought one of everything from the store…there goes your Saturday…  But in nutrition,  Fiber is your friend, fiber takes way longer for your body to digest than most things (if your body can digest it at all, that’s a different topic though). This is the main factor in which type of carbohydrate you should choose to eat.  Because of the fiber it contains, and being so nutrient dense, complex carbs digest at a much slower rate. In turn, this provides your body with a longer lasting energy source. Only a little bit of that sugar gets let into the blood stream at a time, just enough that your body can use it as that energy and not have to store the extra amounts as body fat.  See the difference?

Complex carbs and Simple carbs are opposite of your Target visit.  At Target you want to be fast and efficient (simple carbs), not slow and steady (complex carbs). But if you remember from my previous article, you want your body to be the opposite of efficient. So, slow and steady wins the race.

When to eat simple vs complex?

The best time to eat simple carbs is around your workout. Right before works, but in my opinion right after your workout is THE BEST time.  That’s when your body can use all that extra energy right away instead of having to store it as body fat.  After your workout your body will be depleted of its energy sources and will be craving those carbs to help rebuild your muscle and recover from your brutal workout.  What? Your workout isn’t brutal? You’re not lifting enough weight then.

Any other time of day, I would suggest basing your meals around 1) your protein source, 2) a complex carb, then 3) your fat source.

Now, I’m not saying your can’t ever eat a donut againdonuts. But, if you are trying to lose body fat, you’ll need balanced meals with a complex carb that will keep you fuller for longer, and will give you some helpful nutrients along with it.  oh yeah, and to eat fewer calories than you burn in the day.

I hope this helps you understand a little but more about how your food choices affect your waist line, and as always if you’ve got questions send them my way right here!

 

Choose wisely today,

Z

Why does my trainer ALWAYS tell me to eat more protein?

Have you ever wondered why your personal trainer always pushes you to eat more protein?  Well, the easy and short answer  is… because you aren’t eating enough of it!  So go get that steak/chicken/salmon out of the fridge and start chewing on it!

But in all seriousness, is this really necessary? Do you always need to be eating more protein?  Well, the right answer for that question is: It depends….  A person’s protein needs depend on their specific situation and goals.  But, with that being said I will say that almost everyone I have ever trained needed to increase their protein intake.  Especially the women.  Why do you like Carbs so much ladies?

Ok, back to the protein.  Before I give the benefits of eating more protein let’s look at what protein actually is.

WHAT IS PROTEIN?

Proteins are a Macronutrient (Proteins, Carbs, and Fats), and are often referred to as the most important “Macro” in building muscle.  Proteins are the building blocks of all the tissues in your body.  Most people know that protein helps build muscle, but did you know that protein is also involved repairing your hair, skin, & nails? Technically, every organ in your body needs protein.  In order to repair or grow properly cells need protein, and every organ is made up of cells, therefore every organ needs protein.  Proteins are made up of long chains of Amino Acids.  Amino Acids (there are two types of amino acids: non-essential and essential) are like little Lego blocks that are snapped together to create a larger object, the proteins.  Essential amino acids are the ones you must ingest in order to get into your system, these are the most prominently discussed amino acids in the fitness industry (isoleucine, valine, leucine, tryptophan, threonine, methionine, arginine, lysine, histidine).  Non-essential amino acids are the ones your body produces on its own.

In relation to exercise, the protein you eat is what helps your muscles repair after your workout (especially if you are training with me and those free weights).  If you didn’t know, during your workout  your muscles develop tiny micro-tears (picture your muscle fibers doing a Hulk Hogan shirt rip in front of the mirror, at least that’s what I do…).  The protein shake you drink after your workout is then broken down into Amino Acids,  which are then pushed off to your muscles through your blood stream and sent to those mini Hulk Hogans in your biceps.  This arrival of amino acids is what helps those micro-tears repair and grow larger and stronger.  Without the protein those muscles take a lot longer to repair, and you won’t get much muscle growth if you get any.

 

SO WHY IS YOUR TRAINER PUSHING PROTEIN?  WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

#1) As stated above, getting enough protein is what helps your body recover after those tough, heavy, killer workouts.  Do you really want to go through that workout and then not eat enough protein to actually take advantage of your progress? Eat your protein. Problem solved.  Most people know the information about working out, muscle-building, and getting enough protein.  Work out, eat protein, get muscles. Easy peasy.

#2)  Eating more protein increases the fat burning in your body.  Did you know that it takes longer for your body to digest protein than it does carbs or fats?  Well you do now!  Breaking down protein takes twice as much effort by your body in order to convert it to glucose, which is what your body uses for energy, than it does carbs or fats.  Therefore it takes more energy to actually break it down, which means your body will be working harder and need to take energy away from your already stored fat.  Boom! Eat protein, burn fat!  Well, this is true, but it doesn’t take a huge amount of that stored energy away.  So you may not notice it much after a week, but after a couple of months it will definitely add up to more fat loss! Remember, everything takes time in the fitness world.

#3)  Eating protein gives you a feeling of Satiety.  Satiation is the feeling of fullness.  There are a few reasons behind this. The first is that the protein takes longer to digest and stays in your stomach for a longer period of time.  Like I stated above, proteins take longer to digest, and if your stomach is full of food you won’t feel as hungry as soon.  So eating a steak will keep you less hungry longer than eating a bowl of pasta.  Reason number is that when you eat protein and it begins digestion there are certain hormones that get released in your body.  I won’t bore you with these hormones, and to be honest I sound like an idiot trying to pronounce them… so we’ll skip over that.  But, when the protein digest it sends out these hormones to your brain saying “I’m full!” and your body stops producing the hormones that tell you to eat.  So eating protein overrides those chemicals that tell you to eat more, whereas eating something like a candy bar actually send those “I’m hungry!” signals and make you want to eat more.

The translation for these benefits comes out to this:  Protein helps you build muscle and recover after those intense workouts.  Protein Helps you burn more fat while increasing your satiety levels. And Protein keeps you fuller for a longer period of time, which in turn helps you eat fewer calories during the day.  These all add up to helping your lean muscle mass increase, you eat less junk because you are eating more protein, and you will lose fat because your body is working to digest proteins and send them off to those muscles for repair.

Now get to that kitchen and cook that meat, or mix that protein shake because your inner Hulk Hogan is calling.  😉

 

Stay Strong,

Zach

What is the perfect diet? Here is your answer.

If you’ve ever wondered what is the best meal plan, or diet to follow you are in luck! I’ve got the answer right here.  But first, let me explain what the word “diet” means.  The original meaning of diet is this: “the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.”  Pretty self-explanatory, right?  Your diet is WHAT you eat.  But throughout the years it has come to a different meaning. It has now been developed into a WAY of eating, most notably a way to lose weight.  Probably around 99 % of the time when I hear someone say the word “diet” they are referring to eating less food in order to lose weight.  In my book, that’s not the correct use of the word, but since the dictionary has adopted it as a definition I can’t really argue that anymore… what I can do is inform people on how to use the word, and also how to improve nutrition so they don’t have to use the word diet!

Back to the point, What is the perfect diet? Are you ready? Here it is… there isn’t one.  Well there you go. Good luck finding out what works for you!

 

 

Just kidding, I couldn’t leave you in the dark like that! So, there isn’t one specific diet that works better than others.  There are a plethora of diets out there that can/will help you to lose weight. For example, carb cycling works, IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) works, Atkins, Paleo, even the Twinkies diet works.  Yes that says Twinkies…and if you do it right you could eat nothing but Twinkies and lose weight.  You will look like garbage, but you will lose weight if you get your calorie numbers in the right range.  All kinds of diets will help you to lose weight, IF they are lower in calories than you are burning.  Burn more calories than you eat, and you lose weight. It’s like science or something…

The real trick is finding a diet (a way of eating) that works for you, and that you can sustain.  You can’t do the Twinkies diet forever and live a healthy life because you would get about zero nutrients from your food (if you can call it that).  Finding something that works for you doesn’t mean you won’t have to make some sacrifices along the way.  For example, drinking booze. People tend to have a hard time giving up booze. I’m not saying you have to give it up forever. But, if you’ve got a goal to reach then why in the world wouldn’t you give up one little thing for a while to reach that goal? Guess what, you’d save some money too…  But, just because you gave it up for a while doesn’t mean you can never have it again.  If I was doing a bodybuilding show I would probably give up my favorite food of all time (buffalo wings) for a while in order to reach my goal, but it wouldn’t be forever. I would definitely get some after the show!  Sacrifices may become a necessity if you want to reach the goal. You just have to decide which one is more of a priority. Do your personal health goals mean more to you, or do those wings and drinks? It’s up to you, but your choices mean you don’t get to complain because you aren’t getting results. You chose it, remember?

As far as a meal plan or diet goes, I like to suggest carb cycling or IIFYM because while you still have to eat a majority of healthy foods like lean meats and fruits and veggies, these give you a little bit of wiggle room to add a fun snack in here or there.  As long as it fits into your calorie or macro numbers.  But, sometimes it is difficult for people to sustain keeping track of things (if you really want the success you’ll do it, but that’s for another post).  The goal is to find something that you can sustain, for a long period of time, like forever… that won’t stress you out and won’t make you go on a crazy eating rampage.  It may take a month for you to figure out what works for you, or it may take years for you to find what works. Everyone is different in how many calories they need, what their goals are, and how their body functions on different nutrition.  Some people are geared towards needing more carbs (mostly athletes), or fats, while others need more protein (bodybuilders, women, ok everyone needs more protein).  Cookie cutter meal plans don’t work the same for everyone, you need to step into the lab (kitchen) and get to know your food and how your body responds to it.  If you don’t ever make that link between your body and the fuel you feed it, you will never reach the success you want.  Could you run a gas-powered lawn mower with electricity? Nope.  Does your TV remote work with the wrong size batteries? Nope.  You have to find the right fuel source and way of eating for your body to work properly towards reaching your goals.

So what is the perfect diet? The perfect diet is the one that works for you. It’s the one you can keep doing, forever.  It may be completely opposite of what your spouse does, or what your best friend does. But that’s OK. They don’t have the same body as you, and they don’t have the same goals as you do. So why would you want to do the same thing as them if it doesn’t work for YOU?  That’s right, you don’t.  And if you don’t know where to start, lean meats, fruits, and veggies are a great place to look. But, your personal trainer may have a few tips for you to look into.  It won’t hurt you to ask them. Actually, it’ll help you.

 

Zach

Where Do I Start? Good Nutrition or Exercise? The Chicken or the Egg?

You want to get in shape you say? But what is the best way to start that process? Do you want to be the chicken and run around the yard all day? Or do you just want to eat eggs and watch the chicken run around?  Trick question!  The correct answer is both and neither at the same time.  Exercise and nutrition in combination will show you more results and get you healthier than one or the other. And, you want to be something that can both catch the chicken, and then eat the eggs.

You can exercise and eat like garbage, and not see results (believe me, people know how to do this…)

You can eat better and not exercise, and while you may lose weight there is a good chance you may still feel…flabby.  no exercise = no muscle mass = skinny fat.  Go lift some weights, you’ll thank me later when you finish reading this.)

According to a study (you can read about it here) completed by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine, The people who implemented both improved nutrition and an exercise routine had greater success with sticking to it consistently.  As the article says, the participants weren’t necessarily shooting to lose weight, but to improve healthy habits.  Which is the exact way to go about getting in shape. Do it consistently.

Consistently making strides to improve your health and your healthy habits is the only way you will ever get to your goals.  If you start in January, and you have quit by March…you missed the boat. But, If you continued through the summer you made progress. Maybe you haven’t lost as much weight, or gained as much muscle, as you would have liked but you still made progress because you have developed a habit of improving yourself. If you keep going, you WILL get there. Don’t quit.

Another reason I believe that starting both at the same time is a great idea is because they help you stay accountable.  I can’t even tell you how many times I have heard someone say “I can’t eat that, I don’t want to ruin my workout from earlier.”  Or how often do you see things like “that piece of pizza is a million burpees to burn it off”  which is a whole other leaf I won’t turn over. But, you get my point. They help to keep each other accountable because they work in unison.  Exercise reveals your nutrition progress, and good nutrition improves your workouts. That’s a win-win in my book!

But, say you can’t do both (which is a bunch of…bad words…another issue I’ll address later on). If you really think it is impossible to do both at the same time, then exercise should be your first choice. The researchers found that, though not as successful as doing both, people who started exercise before improving nutrition were better off than people who started with nutrition.  The people who just tried to improve nutrition had a hard time ever getting to the exercise, and in order to get in shape you will need both nutrition and exercise. Leaving one out won’t get you there.

So, with that information I hope you can see the benefits of starting them together.  You don’t want to be the chicken and just run around the yard, and you don’t want to just eat the eggs and not run around the yard.  We want you to be the Fox.  You’ll get your exercise chasing that chicken around the yard, and then after you catch it you can start your recovery with a complete food source of the egg. The Fox won’t stop after catching the chicken, it wants both. The combination of the two will get you to that fox-y self you are looking for. Don’t pick just one, because chances are you won’t then get to the second half. Pick both and start getting foxy today, because if you don’t start you’ll find yourself being chased by the fox…and that doesn’t end well for anyone but the fox.

I’ll see you at the chicken coop,

Zach

Is it weight loss that you are really looking for?

If you punch “weight loss” into the internet search engine of your choice you will discover the many options you have to pursue. I have no problem saying there are probably millions of articles, websites, and business devoted to helping people lose weight.  But, is that really what you are in search of?

My guess is that you just think that you want to lose some weight, but in reality it has nothing to do with how much the scale says you weigh, or how many pounds you want to “lose.”  It is more likely that you want to look better and feel better physically and emotionally.  That doesn’t come from “weight loss” that comes from fat loss and learning about yourself and what you are capable of (hint: you can lift more than that).

In my experience dealing with personal training clients they think that just losing weight in general will get them to where they want to be.  If you’re one of the people I have been lucky enough to train you have definitely heard me say “the scale just says a number, it doesn’t define you as a person” or “The scale is just a tool to measure where you were and where you are now.”  Guess what, I have to tell them all more than once…repeatedly actually… Our society is so stuck on the term “weight loss” that it is now ingrained into everyone’s head, and health professionals sometimes have a hard time breaking through that thick skull people develop.  But it isn’t about the number the scale says, looking good and “fit” comes from fat loss.  Fat loss comes from 2 main things, #1 is eating better.  Improving your nutrition will go a long ways in helping you find that former athlete or looking good in that 2 piece bikini.  But #2 is often overlooked when people are trying to “lose weight” and that is strength training.  AKA lifting weights.  Yes ladies you need to keep reading this, guys (most guys) have no issue going to the gym and throwing the iron around, but for some reason a lot of ladies shy away from that part of the gym.  That is a shame  because there are so many benefits of strength training.

Strength training helps your muscle stay fuller, which is what makes you look good while rocking that bikini.  “But I don’t want to get huge…”  If I had a nickel for every time I heard that… I would be a millionaire already, that’s just in 5 years of personal training. You do not get “huge” just from lifting weights, there is a lot more to it than that.  If it was that easy I would look like Mr. Schwarzenegger, and I don’t…  It takes a lot of nutrition, rep ranges, rest periods, volume of work, the right hormones, etc in order to get huge.  So ladies, don’t worry about getting huge unless you are secretly taking testosterone or steroids.

I’m not saying cardio is a bad thing, it definitely has its place in the fitness world.  But, If you aren’t strength training…well, you should be. Doing only cardio will help you lose weight, definitely. But it won’t get you beach ready. It will get you, what we say in the fitness world, “skinny fat.”  That isn’t what you want.  Yes that means you weigh next to nothing, but it also means you have no muscle. You look thin with your clothes on, but with them off you look…skinny fat, with no definition.  Definition brings curves, you want curves (I’m sure that’s a great tag word ladies will love to hear).

If that doesn’t get you lifting, then here are a few more reasons that you should incorporate strength training into your weekly workout plan:

1) It helps you stay leaner.  Once you lose the unwanted fat strength training helps you to keep those muscles working for hours after your training session.  When you lift weights you are making tiny tears in your muscle fibers, that’s a good thing, and it takes hours/days for them to rebuild. Which means that your body is working hard to recover, and that translates into more calories burned while you are resting, at work, or watching that new season of Orange Is The New Black

2) It keeps your bones strong.  Putting heavy stress on your bones (weight training) causes your body to reinforce them with the nutrients you take in.  So lifting weights will help to keep your from breaking your hip when you are 90 years old.  Your old self, will thank you for that.

3) My favorite one… It makes you stronger.  After strength training you will develop the super human strength to carry all of the grocery bags into the house at once.  No thanks superman, supermom has this under control!  But seriously, strength training will help you to be able to lift up your kids, move boxes without hurting your back, or push your kids really high in the underdog swing move.

4) It helps to prevent other diseases.  Heart disease is the leading killer in the Unites States.  Lifting weights improves your heart strength.  Jump rope for heart should really be turned into pushups for heart. Maybe I’ll start that… That’s just the beginning, Diabetes and glucose levels can be controlled or reduced (depending on which type) with strength training and healthy lifestyle changes.  It can also help with arthritis pain, I bet you wouldn’t have guessed that!

and the last one I’ll mention is

5) It can help reduce stress and improve your mood! Strength training can increase your endorphins (happy chemicals in your brain), it has been proven to be an amazing antidepressant tool, and it makes you feel freaking strong (refer to #3) lifting heavy weights!  That always makes me feel good about myself!

So I’ll end with this.  Don’t go in search of weight loss, go in search of fat loss, through strength training!  You’ll be happier, you’ll be stronger, and you’ll be even more amazing!

In the weights I (we?) trust,

Zach

Is your diet right?

All over the fitness industry the term “diet” gets thrown around, but do you really know what it means?  Almost every fitness professional uses this term on a daily basis, but many of them (including me at one point) use the word diet in the wrong way.  The original definition of diet is “The kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.”  This basically means the food you usually eat throughout your day, week, month, and year.  As fitness has become more popular and in the news, the term DIET has become more of a weight loss term, and it shouldn’t be.  Diet is what you eat, not how you eat it.  You can plan your diet in a way that makes you lose weight, or gain weight, stay the same, gain muscle, or lose fat. But, you don’t “go on a diet.”  You are always on a diet, unless you stop eating all together, and if that happens we have bigger issues to address.   I’ll never tell you to “go on a diet” I’ll definitely tell you to adjust your diet and eat better foods, but don’t be fooled by gimmick “diets.”  I mean, do you really want to be following something that doesn’t even really know what it is saying?  I may be nit-picking a dumb word choice, but to me it is more than that.  It is about being aware of what you are teaching people as a Health Professional, and not leading people in the wrong direction.  Be aware if your trainer says go on this “diet” and you will lose weight, because I would bet that the same exact thing has been given to previous clients without any tweaking for your personal use. There are definitely great trainers and fitness professionals out there, but there are some people who promote fitness without any actual knowledge of anything related to fitness. So my point is, don’t “go on a diet” and be aware of the so-called “knowledge” that is thrown around in the fitness industry.  Do your own research, ask around and find someone who has a great knowledge base in the industry.

 

Stay healthy,

Zach

Don’t Think So Much…

I have found myself thinking a lot during my days lately. Which is weird to me because I have never thought of myself as a “thinker.”  I’ve always thought that I was a “do-er.” I go fishing, I go hunting, I go to the gym and work out, I do things.  But a lot lately I’ve been noticing all of the “thinking” I’ve been doing (See what I did there?).   I’m sure it is very different thinking than what most people do. Almost all of my thinking revolves around fitness, health, or activity of some sort.  For example tonight I was creating a workout to send to someone who doesn’t live close enough to train with me. So, I was thinking of different workouts, different orders of exercises, different ways that I could create this program to make sure that every detail was in the right spot and that this person would love every part of the program.  But then I stopped and thought about it… and something that I have told many people (but never really told myself) came to mind.  This was that you don’t have to make the program perfect, you just have to DO the program (I did still create it in order to reach specific goals for them, though).  See, whether you are training for a marathon or working towards a bodybuilding show, you’ll have a program to follow in some form.  It could be the greatest program ever created and include every aspect of every fitness option available. But, if you don’t do those exercises… you can’t get those results.  So the next time you are worried if you are doing the right exercises/style of fitness, just remember that if you enjoy it and you can keep DOING it, then you are doing the right thing.  Exercise and fitness doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as going for a walk or as difficult as lifting 500 pounds, but as long as you DO the activity, consistently, you will see benefits.  So don’t stress about running vs. lifting vs. crossfit, just pick something and move, people. You’ll thank me after your workout.