Monday, July 28, 2014

Get Some Sleep

Get Some Sleep!

Sleep deprivation screws up hormones and can cause weight gain.

As many of you know already hormones control everything in our body. Sleep is the body’s natural way of resetting, including everything and maintaining homeostasis (balance in the body).  When the body is deprived of sleep it does not regulate hormones correctly.  Many of these hormones control appetite and fat oxidation (the burning of stored fat for fuel).  When these hormones are not regulated correctly it can lead to excessive food intake or even alter what types of foods you eat (possibly high calorie low satiety foods) which can inevitably lead to weight gain. 

As part of my own anecdote I find it interesting that over consumption of food has increased over the past several decades (which has led to an increase in overweight and obese individuals) and the tendency to work more and sleep less has also increased.  What I’m saying is that over the past several decades the amount of sleep that people get has gone down, and weight gain has increased.  It’s possible that there is no connection between the two, but it’s not impossible either.  I have no evidence to support my theory (although I haven’t searched for any to be fair); this is why this paragraph is purely anecdotal.

Escott-Stump, Sylvia, and Janice L. Raymond. "Nutrition for Health and Fitness."Krause's Foods and the                 Nutrition Care Process. By Kathleen L. Mahan. St. Louis, Missouri: Elsevier Saunders, 2013. 469.                     Print.

Check out my video on my Transformation from fat to muscular!

Monday, July 21, 2014

HDL and LDL Cholesterol

What is the difference between HDL and LDL cholesterol and how to increase the good and decrease the bad.


Circulates in the blood stream and binds free cholesterol to itself. Carries that cholesterol back to the liver where it is used for other functions.  Without HDL cholesterol, free cholesterol would stay in the blood where it could attach to arteries and cause blockage and/or disease.

HDL cholesterol also helps remove cholesterol from the blood which leads to less buildup of plaque and also removes cholesterol from the arterial wall.  High HDL is associated with lower risk for precursors to heart disease.

HDL can be increased by replacing saturated fats and trans-fats with monounsaturated and following a low fat (25%-35% of total calories) diet.


Saturated fat raises LDL cholesterol the most (should be less than 7% of total calories).  Trans fats also raise LDL cholesterol.  Replacing SFA with MUFA and PUFA decreases LDL cholesterol.

LDL carries cholesterol from the liver to other tissues of the body.  When LDL circulates in the blood for too long it can cause inflammation of the arties which causes precursors to CVD.

Eating foods high in antioxidants (especially vitamins C, E, and Beta-carotene) can prevent LDL cholesterol form causes inflammation of the arteries which leads to CVD.

Margarine spreads that are fortified with plant sterols and stanols have the potential to decrease LDL and total cholesterol quite significantly.  Substituting a product like Smart Balance Heart Right margarine spread could significantly reduce cholesterol levels if substituted for margarines with high saturated and trans-fats or butter. Of course, more does not mean better so use these spreads modestly and also in accordance with a healthy calorie intake.

Weight loss in overweight individuals may be the number 1 way to decrease LDL and total cholesterol because of the wide range of benefits it has on the entire body.

LDL can be modestly-greatly reduced by having a high soluble fiber intake (because soluble fiber stops cholesterol from being produced and also causes bile acids, which are made from cholesterol, to be excreted, which leads to more cholesterol being used to make bile acids which means that there is not as much cholesterol to circulate through the blood) during digestion and allows it to be excreted rather than absorbed.

Check out my video on my Transformation from fat to muscular!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Kill The Risk of Cancer

Kill The Risk of Cancer With These Foods and Nutrients!

Vitamin D- Vitamin D has been shown to decrease the risk for having colon, breast, ovarian, renal, pancreatic, prostate, and other cancers. Supplementing with 2000IU of vitamin D3 per day will achieve the necessary levels of vitamin d necessary for decreased cancer risk.  Foods high in vitamin D include salmon, trout, tuna, halibut (and many other fish/seafood), fortified dairy products, and fortified cereals.

Calcium- Calcium supplementation and high diary intakes have been associated with decreased risk of colorectal cancer.  However it has also been shown to increase the risk for prostate cancer.

Coffee- Coffee contains many antioxidants which have anticancer properties.

Tea- Tea, like coffee, contains various antioxidants which have been show to prevent certain cancers.

Fruits and Vegetables- antioxidants in fruits and vegetables such as vitamin C, vitamin E, Selenium, and Phytochemicals (more on these later) have been shown to protect against mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophageal, cervical, lung, and stomach cancer.  Green and yellow vegetable re believed to play particular roles in protecting against stomach cancer.

Soy and Phytoestrogens- the isoflavones in Soy have been shown to protect against breast cancer especially when consumed before reaching adulthood.  Evidence is controversial however for soy’s’ benefits for adult women and woman during menopausal years.  Soy products should also be limited to 3 servings per day for woman who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.  Foods high in soy may be beneficial for men with Prostate cancer.  Foods high in soy include soy milk, edamame beans, and tofu.  Typically, foods high in soy are better than supplements derived from soy products due to a potential lack of isoflavones.

Check out my video on my Transformation from fat to muscular!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Fluids and Electrolytes


Proper fluid balance allows blood to be supplied to the skin which helps regulate body temperature from exercise.  Without proper fluid intake the body can easily overheat.

Adequate fluid intake is especially important when the climate is hot or hot and humid since both these conditions increase the need for fluids to maintain proper body temperature.

The DRI (daily recommended intake) for fluids in general is 130 oz. / 16 cups per day for males and 95 oz. /12 cups for females. However this figure dramatically increases for those who exercise in general and those who exercise is hot climates.  Approximately 20% of fluids need to come from fruit/vegetable sources and the remaining 80% should come from water, juice, milk, coffee, tea, soup, and sports drinks.

About 14-22 oz. of water or 17 oz. of sport drink should be consumed 2-3 hours before exercise.
During exercise, 6-12 oz. of fluid should be consumed ever 15-20 minutes.
After exercise drink 16-24 oz. of fluid for every pound of body weight lost during exercise.


In order for the body to be completely re-hydrated from exercise electrolytes must be reintroduced to the body.  Essential electrolytes include sodium and potassium (potassium is usually maintained in proper levels through diet so it won’t be discussed here).

Check out my video on my Transformation from fat to muscular!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Vitamins, Minerals, and Antioxidants

Maintaining proper levels of vitamins and minerals in your body is essential to achieving optimal exercise performance.

Zinc, iron, and vitamin b12 are of concern to vegetarian/vegan athletes.

A daily intake of less than 1/3 of the RDA for thiamin, riboflavin, b6, and vitamin C may lead to decreased exercise performance.

Supplementation may help fill in gaps where the diet does not fulfill nutrient requirements, but excess amounts of supplemented vitamins may cause health problems and interfere with vitamin, mineral, and other nutrient absorption.  More is not always better.

B vitamins
B vitamins play a role in energy metabolism.
Individuals following a vegan, vegetarian, or prolonged low calorie diet are likely to be deficient in vitamin b12.  In this case, it is suggested a B-Vitamin supplement be consumed.
Vegan sources of Vitamin B12 include fortified cereals, grains, and legume products.  Supplementation will not be necessary if adequate amounts of these products are consumed on a near daily basis.
Other sources of Vitamin B12 include: chicken, beef, pork, seafood, and freshwater fish.

Because exercise can produce free radicals which are harmful to the tissues of the body it is essential to consume nutrients that combat these free radicals.
Antioxidants neutralize free radicals which protects the cells of the body from damage.
Studies have shown that athletes deficient in antioxidants recovered significantly more slowly than athletes with abundant antioxidants in their systems when both groups were subjected to identical training programs. (Watson and colleagues 2005)
A diet rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables ensures that the body is receiving adequate amounts of antioxidants to help the body recover from damage.
Tea and coffee also have many antioxidant properties.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C is important for exercise metabolism and is believed to play a role in increasing performance. 
Supplementation with Vitamin C can be beneficial for individuals who do not obtain adequate amounts of Vitamin C from the diet.
Great sources of Vitamin C include: red and green bell peppers, guava, oranges, fortified cereals, parsley, kale, broccoli, and many other fruits and vegetables.

Vitamin E
Vitamin E has been shown to act as an antioxidant in so far as it reduces oxidative damage to tissues from free radicals.
Great sources of Vitamin E include: wheat germ oil, hazelnut oil, fortified cereals and peanut butters, vegetable oils, and many nut butters.

Iron is critically important for individuals engaging in regular activity.
Iron helps the cells of the body transport oxygen from the lungs to all the tissues of the body.
Iron also plays a role in the production of ATP which is needed for exercise and optimal performance.
When someone is iron deficient his/her aerobic capacity and overall work capacity is limited to less than optimal levels.  Even partial depletion of iron in various tissues and organs of the body can have detrimental effects on exercise performance.
Individuals especially vulnerable to being iron deficient include: females with heavy menstrual losses, people with energy restricted diets, distance runners, and individuals in hot climates who suffer from substantial sweating.
Because supplementation with iron can be toxic in high doses and to individuals with genetic pre dispositions iron supplementation should be overseen by a registered dietitian who is aware of your medical history.
Foods abundant in iron include:  thyme, parsley, spearmint, fortified cereals, cumin, lamb, duck, goose, and liver.

Check out my video on my Transformation from fat to muscular!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Optimize your exercise with the right nutrients for the job

Optimize your exercise with the right nutrients for the job

Duration and intensity
The type of exercise that someone is participating in determines the types and amounts of food that are necessary to get the job done right.  The two main variables that determine these things are intensity and duration of exercise.

Intensity refers to how hard you are working (specifically what percentage of maximum oxygen uptake you are working at).

Duration refers to how long the exercise is taking place.

Intensity and duration are related to each other in the following way: the higher the intensity of the exercise the shorter the duration of the exercise and vice-versa (biologically speaking).
The duration of your exercise determines what kind of fuel your body will primarily use for its activity. When an exercise bout or event is very long (greater than 2 hours of continuous work) the more fat is used for fuel.  Up to 60-70% of energy used for exercise lasting 6-10 hours comes from fat.  However, in order for the body to use fat for fuel there must be a continuous stream of carbohydrate coming into the body.  The body will use stored carbohydrates (glycogen) in the liver and muscle, but once these run out fat can no longer be used for energy. Thus, exercise capacity is greatly reduced.

High intensity short-duration exercise(such as sprinting, all out swimming, all out cycling, and powerlifting) uses anaerobic production of ATP (ATP is the energy source that allows muscles to be contracted). This is because it is the fastest way to get energy to the muscle.  In this case glucose (carbohydrates) and glycogen are used for fuel. Glucose or glycogen is used 18-19 times faster anaerobically than aerobically so people performing high intensity exercise or competitive races run the risk of running out of stored glycogen.

People performing very high intensity outdoor activity such as vigorous swimming, cycling, and running should be sure to eat a high carbohydrate meal 3-4 hours before beginning the exercise to optimize performance.

People who perform very long exercise (greater than 3 hours) but with lower intensity such as cycling, jogging, swimming, and hiking should be fine eating a regular diet (such as the one listed below).  However, if exercise lasts longer than 6 hours a carbohydrate containing meal will be needed during the exercise to allow further burning of fat for fuel.

Individuals involved in general fitness programs can usually meet their macro nutrient requirements by following a diet of 45%-55% of calories from carbohydrates (1.35g-2.25g per 1LB body weight), 10%-15% of calories from protein (.35g-.45g per 1LB body weight), and 25%-35% of calories from fat (.23g-.68g per 1LB body weight). 

Those involved in more vigorous forms of exercise such as vigorous swimming, cycling, or running may need to increase their carbohydrate intake beyond the recommendations above.

When muscles are used the first source of energy that is used is stored carbohydrate in the muscle (muscle glycogen).  Once these stores are depleted the body uses stored carbohydrate in the liver and creates more glucose from other substances to fuel the active.  Once all stores and substances have been used the body cannot go on.  This is what is referred to as “hitting the wall” is commonly.  This does not typically happen unless exercise is substantially long.  A good example of when this could happen would be a marathon.
Glycogen stores can also be depleted by continuously vigorously exercising multiple days in a row and not replacing the used carbohydrates through diet.

Carbohydrate intake before exercise.
The pre-exercise meal increases performance in two main ways. 
  •       It keeps you from feeling hungry during exercise
  •    It maintains proper levels of blood glucose for muscles to use for energy.

Without adequate carbohydrate in the blood, muscles, and liver the body cannot perform for long duration's or optimally at any duration.  This is where high carbohydrate containing meal comes into play 3-4 hours before beginning to exercise.

Check out my video on my Transformation from fat to muscular!

Monday, June 16, 2014

High Intensity Interval Training

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to incinerate body fat?

Everyone loves to throw around the word cardio to burn calories, lose weight, and get into shape, but most people don’t realize there are different types of cardiovascular exercise that impact the body in different ways such as recovery time, body fat loss, muscle loss, calories burned.  Two major types of cardio are HIIT and LISS (Low Intensity Steady State Cardio), and each one has its place in a healthy active lifestyle.
Many people claim HIIT is much better than LISS when it comes to burning calories, body fat, and getting in shape.  In order to see just how beneficial HIIT really is I spent a few days researching the topic and this is what I have found:


An example of HIIT would be sprinting for 15-60 seconds at 90-100% effort followed by a 30-120 second active recovery of walking or light jogging. This allows people to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time due to the high intensity bursts. These workouts typically can only last about 10-15 minutes due to the high level of intensity.


HIIT will increase endurance capacity and cardiovascular health.  This is nothing different from what LISS can do for you.  In fact LISS is more effective at increasing endurance capacity since it is performed for longer duration's.  Since HIIT is a high intensity training system it will burn a lot of calories very quickly.  Some people will say that training at high intensities will allow your body to burn far more calories for the remainder of the day.  I personally have not seen conclusive research on this and have never heard any exercise professionals with degrees discuss this potential benefit.  So I say take that theory with a grain of salt. Some people say that HIIT will burn more body fat than LISS but this is not necessarily true.  Any differences between the amount of actual body fat burned between HIIT and LISS will be extremely insignificant.  The primary factor determining fat loss will be overall calories burned, and if your overall calories burned exceeds your overall calorie intake.

Downsides of HIIT.

HIIT will almost definitely decrease your recovery ability if you are weight training with beneficial amount of intensity and/or volume.  This can lead to decreased muscular performance and possibly muscle loss. This is why it is not suggested that weight trained athletes perform HIIT to a significant degree. 

Conclusion on HIIT cardio.

Overall I personally do not feel HIIT has any real benefit over LISS.  They produce the same amount of fat loss as long as they produce the same amount of caloric burn.  They both increase cardiovascular health and endurance but LISS increases endurance more, and HIIT can impede recovery from weight training whereas LISS does not (at least to a far less significant degree).  The only real benefit I see from performing HIIT cardio would be burning calories quickly.

Check out my video on my Transformation from fat to muscular!