Nutrition Science


Success is a mindset

“One of the most valuable lessons I have learned in the military is that what happens in your life is what you believe will happen”

 

Here at FitnessVT we consider ourselves to be teachers, coaches and mentors. We strive to inspire, motivate and engage with each and everyone of our clients.  A wise man once told me,

“John, you can’t change everything about a person; however, you can change one aspect of a person that could influence the world.”

There is not a day that goes by where I don’t hear that quote in my head. Ladies and gentlemen, I am here today to talk to you about changing one aspect so that you can influence the world.  What is it? The mentality to succeed.

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned in the military is that what happens in your life is what you believe will happen.  If you truly believe that you will lose 200lbs, you will eventually lose 200lbs.  A perfect example of this is a friend of mine named Wes.

If I were to ask Wes to give me two words that helped him accomplish his weight loss goal, without a doubt he would say, “mental strength.” He was always heavy, and coming out of high school he weighed 330 pounds. During college he had a lot of family turmoil; his mother, father, and brother passed away during his college years. By the time it was all over Wes weighed 420 pounds and didn’t realize how unhappy he was. That was when he developed the mental strength to change his lifestyle. Wes will tell you that he didn’t do it alone, that he had a lot of good people supporting him and helping him along the way.  But ultimately, it had to be his decision to lose weight and create change in his lifestyle.

Wes is awesome!In his own words:  “It is very demanding to wake up every morning and work out; it is difficult to eat and drink constantly even during work hours; it takes discipline to not eat foods that you are used to eating (especially when you think of how good fast food and beer can be!).

However, if you make the decision to do something and get the information on how to do it, any goal can be accomplished if you have the mental strength.”

Wes was given the opportunity to change his life completely by a couple of friends that he now considers family. We gave him the information on the right foods to eat and were in contact with him each day about his workouts and diet.  We also gave him moral support during the times he felt like quitting.

Wes affirms that “if you have a positive mental attitude and a good supporting team behind you, it makes a difference.” It took one year for him to lose 175 pounds. We were all convinced that this only worked because in his mind he wanted to make a change and took the necessary steps in order to change his life. The decision to lose weight is not the hard part; the process of changing your lifestyle to lose weight is truly the difficult decision.

Here stood a young man weighing 420 pounds, coming off the most depressing time of his life, and trying to make a change with no idea how to do it. But Wes had developed a no-quit mentality and was determined to make a change that would bring new meaning to life. Wes now has more confidence than ever (which some would say is a bad thing considering his charismatic personality) and recently became engaged to a beautiful woman named Leah.

 

So what is your excuse today?

 

See, what Wes doesn’t know is that my wife and I have a picture of him hanging in our home.  To us, that picture not only represents a true friend, but is also a reminder of what hard work, dedication and determination looks like. So I say to you, “No more excuses!” Have the mentality to succeed. When you truly believe in something greater than yourself, you will draw strength beyond your belief. No one said that this was going to be an easy journey, but no one said you have to go at this alone either. Let FitnessVt teach, coach and mentor you along the way. We can’t wait to write your success story in our future articles.

stress

 

You slept through your alarm.

 

You couldn’t find your keys.

 

You missed breakfast.

 

And hit every red light to work!

 

Stressed yet? The worst part is that your day has just begun :(

 

What a lot of people don’t realize is that stress is a “silent killer”  – a huge contributing factor to obesity.  Obesity is quickly moving its way up the charts as one of the major leading causes of death in America.

So let’s ask ourselves, what are some ways in which we can mitigate stress? All the while ensuring we stay on the right path to reach our fitness and nutritional goals as well as elevating our mood throughout the day?

Let’s take a look at one thing stress does to our body:

 

Problem: Cortisol

When we are stressed out our body releases a hormone called cortisol. So, what is cortisol? Cortisol is a chemical hormone produced by our body to manage stress.  There are some benefits to cortisol (such as when you need a “flight or fight” response), however, a constant rush of cortisol in the blood stream over a significant period of time (chronic stress) could cause a serious negative response to our body. Some of these responses include high blood pressure, a decrease in muscle tissue, and a change in digestive process which can lead to obesity.

 

Solution: Elevating your Serotonin Levels Through Tryptophan

What we eat, how much we eat and when we eat plays a huge roll on how our brain produces serotonin.  So what is serotonin?  Serotonin is a type of neurotransmitter, found mainly in the central nervous system, that helps regulate mood, sleep, appetite, learning and memory. The driving force behind this process is an amino acid called tryptophan.  Tryptophan is found mostly in turkey, fish, chicken, eggs, peanut butter, nuts, pumpkin seeds, soybeans and dairy products. (Now I’m not saying it’s time to go on an all-meat diet plan to feel good and have less stress throughout the day!)

The only way tryptophan is absorbed into the brain is if the blood stream is carrying relatively high levels of tryptophan and low levels of other amino acids. Interestingly, a good way to boost the relative levels of tryptophan in the blood stream, and thus the brain, is to eat carbohydrates.  When you spike your insulin (caused by eating carbs), it acts like a springboard for tryptophan and launches it straight to the brain.  When the opposite happens, and if your tryptophan levels decrease and your serotonin levels stay low, well then your bad day just got worse.

Understanding what you eat and what it does to your body will help you meet your fitness and nutritional goals, and more importantly, it will allow you to choose the path you want to walk and the mindset you want to keep.

apple with tablets capsules.

Is it as easy a taking a pill?

It is a safe assumption that eventually someone is going to invent the miracle pill.  This miracle pill will change your weight in the matter of a day or so.  After taking this pill you will have the physique of a gymnast and the abilities of an Olympic decathlete.

Maybe someday, but we’re not there yet.  Qysmia, or Qnexa, is the latest “miracle’ pill.  Sold as a weight loss drug, it is actually a combination of two older drugs: Topiramate, or Topomax, a drug used to treat epilepsy, and Phentermine – formerly known as Fen-Phen, the weight loss drug.

Qysmia has to be prescribed by a doctor so you can’t get it over the counter.  If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have overactive thyroid, taking a MAOI anti-depressant, or have any heart conditions, don’t even think about it.  Actually, you shouldn’t even think about it regardless of any of these factors.  As with any drug or things manufactured by man, there are unwanted consequences.

Qysmia causes a loss of appetite.  Naturally, if you don’t eat you will lose weight.  But this is far from the best way to lose weight and one of the more dangerous methods.  Qysmia may also cause rapid heartbeat, anxiety, nervousness, insomnia, dry mouth, numbness, tingling in the limbs, diarrhea, dizziness, depression, nausea, memory loss and memory problems, and slowed movements.

It gets worse:  You have to gradually increase the dosage.  If you don’t, you risk permanent damage.  When coming off this drug you have to gradually wean yourself off of it or you have seizures.  Remember, it has an epileptic drug as one of its components.

So sure, this pill is a real godsend.

Now for the REAL miracle pill.  The things you eat, along with when and how you eat them, can be stronger than any drug man has ever made.  And you know exactly what effects you will get so there are no unwanted consequences.  The right nutrients, when eaten at the right time and in the right amounts, produce the desired results.  These facts are as sure as mathematics and are the foundations of all nutrition plans produced by FitnessVT.

Is it as easy a taking a pill?  No, but nothing worthwhile is ever that simple.  Just having a little discipline and a heartfelt commitment can alter your life forever.  Pharmaceutical weight loss just cannot compete with the efficacy of Mother Nature.

scale-female-300

“The problem with this is sometimes people will overlook the actual aesthetics of their body and just stare at the scale.”

 

To many people on a weight loss program, the scale is the end all be all.  Truth be told, it is a great way to keep track of progress, but it’s not without its faults. In this article I want to go over some of the biggest pitfalls of judging progress strictly off the scale.

I’m going to talk about how the scale can lie, and I want to make clear that just because the numbers are not dropping doesn’t mean that you’re not losing.

Having worked with nutrition for the better part of my life, I have had the opportunity to not only see the physiological side of weight loss, but also the psychological side. Some people have the belief that if they achieve a certain weight that they are going to look a certain way.

The problem with this is sometimes people will overlook the actual aesthetics of their body and just stare at the scale.

Each individual is built differently. Some are taller, some have a larger frame, and because of this, if you achieve the weight of your favorite model or actor, you might not have the same look as them.

To be clear, the most important thing that people need to look at is the one thing they tend to overlook the most: “How do I feel?” This needs to be the number-one factor. If you’re losing weight or even achieving the look you’re aiming for, if you do not feel good you’re not going to have any lasting effects. You need to concentrate first on how you feel, and then on how you look. These aspects tend to work synergistically together.  Once you get this proper mindset down, then you can move forward to making lifelong changes.

Let’s say you’ve been working your program and are feeling great, but the problem is that the scale is not moving.  The scale can be a tricky thing.  We all know that water cannot make us fat because it contains no calories. But one thing that many people forget is that just because it does not make you fat, does not mean it cannot make you heavy. If you weigh yourself, then drink a gallon of water and step back on the scale, you will now be eight pounds heavier. You did not gain eight pounds of fat, you are just heavier because the water has not had time to leave your body. This seems super simple once you think about it, but a lot of people don’t realize how much water truly affects that number on the scale. 

Here are some things that will influence the amount of water your body holds, and in turn will affect the number on the scale:

Timing of your weigh-in
Many people do not realize that over the course of a day you can fluctuate 5-10 pounds based on how much muscle you have, your size, how much you’re drinking, or external factors like hot weather. If you weigh yourself first thing in the morning it will give the the truest weight because you will be holding the least amount of water. If you weigh-in at night, you could be a lot heavier based on how much you ate or drank before the weigh-in.

Amount of sleep you are getting
While you sleep, your body releases water through breathing and sweat. Your muscles are relaxing and repairing themselves from the day.  During this time you can lose a great deal of water. If you have a night that is short on sleep, your heart rate could be raised throughout the day and you tend to hold more water.

Sodium intake
The amount of sodium you take in regulates how much water your body will hold. If you ingest a lot of salt or sodium over the course of a day, your body will hold a lot of water.

Dietary fiber intake
Dietary fiber is found in things like fruits and vegetables. Because of its makeup, dietary fiber holds a lot of water. It can not make you fat — because your body cannot absorb it — but eating it will have an impact on the scale.

Carbohydrates
When we eat carbohydrates our body eventually stores them as glycogen — a source of fuel for future activities. For every gram of glycogen, our body stores three grams of water. Many people who have gone on high-protein diets have lost a quick few pounds. The reason for this is the decline of glycogen held by the body, thus the loss of the water held by the glycogen.

Amount of water you are drinking
As crazy as it sounds, when we hold water the best way to rid the body of the excess is to drink more water. When your body feels dehydrated, it releases an anti-diuretic hormone called vasopressin. The body does this as a security measure to slow the release of water. When you continually drink water, your body senses that it has more than enough, therefore it starts releasing it on its own.

The intensity and type of your workouts
Working out causes damage to the muscles being worked. Just like any type of injury, your body creates inflammation. Doing this causes the body to hold water. Many people go up in weight after a hard workout and get discouraged, not knowing that they did not actually gain fat, they’re again just holding water.

Knowing what causes your body to hold water will help you to truly address your weight-loss goals. It can help you find out if you’re achieving success, just holding water, or if you need to adjust some things in your program.  But don’t get caught in just looking at the scale — make sure you consider all the facts and factors first!!

I am ready

 

If you’re reading this, then like me you have made the decision to change your life for the better by setting a goal of enhancing your health and well-being through the power of proper nutrition. This goal, like any other goal worth setting, comes with its own unique set of challenges, the most difficult being consistency.

How many times in the past have you set out a path to lose those unwanted pounds, only to find yourself a few hours into the first day, stuck at work, STARVING with nothing to eat? It has certainly happened to me, and what inevitably comes next? The walk of shame to the vending machine to sort through the same old assortment of sugar and fat-filled garbage that is always available to curb those hunger pains. After a few days of this issue we often “fall off the wagon” and are back to the same old unhealthy habits that we started with.

The good new is we can change this diet-derailing cycle with just a little bit of foresight and preparation.

 

The first step towards diet success is to pick your food prep days. For my wife and I, we prep our food for the week ahead on Sunday and Wednesday. Like any other change in our routine it was challenging at first, but after a week or so it was just another part of our week, like dropping the kids off at school or cutting the grass.

Using your FitnessVT grocery list makes this preparation step a breeze. The first thing to invest in is some quality Tupperware – it will be your go-to food prep tool. The second investment is a good quality cooler or lunch box. Then you simply look ahead on your FitnessVT program for the week, and prepare all the food listed up to your next selected prep day. Separate each meal into individual Tupperware containers for the week and label each with the time or meal number. Before bed when you’re eating your last snack, fill your cooler for the following day. Make a point to do this at the same time each night so it becomes a habit.

It sounds simple, but more often than not people simply don’t take the time to plan their food for each day and are stuck having to make quick “fast food” choices throughout the week. By bringing your prepared cooler to work each day you avoid falling into this trap. Now I know it might look a little silly rolling a cooler into work, but I’ll take being the strange guy or girl with a cooler in great shape and with perfect health over the poor souls lined up at the vending machine — any day!

 

Unfortunately, most of us believe there is no way to improve our testosterone levels without taking the old “Vitamin S”

 

If you have spent any time at all watching late-night television, chances are you have witnessed advertisements for some type of drug or therapy that increases testosterone levels.

You know the ones I’m talking about: the infomercials with the older guy who was in a bad way, and now, with his young female friend (who is half his age) by his side, he is a strapping lad once again.  And it’s all thanks to Product X!  The makers of Product X will tell you that if you have felt tired, depressed, anxious, have unexplainable weight gain, low sex drive, or have been more emotional than usual, you probably have low testosterone and you should get their product RIGHT NOW.

 

Funny thing is, there is truth in that statement – just not the part about Product X.

 

All of us – men and women – need to be aware of our testosterone levels and understand what they mean.  Age, activity, sport, and generally just feeling “normal” are all affected by our hormone balance.  Lower-than-optimal testosterone can and does lead to a host of unhealthy issues in the human body, and this applies to both genders.

 

Unfortunately, most of us believe there is no way to improve our testosterone levels without taking the old “Vitamin S” (anabolic steroids) or completing hormone replacement therapy (or Product X, if those ads did a job on you).  Happily, this is just not the case!  Obviously there are some folks who will require actual medications or testosterone supplementation or complete replacement, but the vast majority of us can prevent that from ever happening by minding our diets.  A sound diet, strategically planned and tactically executed will yield far better results than any snake oil sold in infomercials, and with none of the side effects that accompany medications and hormone replacement therapies.

 

So many things about our bodies are regulated by the production and utilization of this hormone called testosterone that everyone should know a little more about it.  Testosterone is an androgen, a steroid hormone produced primarily in the testicles of men and to a lesser degree in the ovaries of women, as well as a small amount in our adrenal glands.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Women produce and utilize testosterone just as well as and for the same reasons as men – they just don’t produce as much and are also more sensitive to its effects.

 

The creation of testosterone from cholesterol is a rather interesting process that we will not spend much time on.   It should just be pointed out that testosterone is derived from cholesterol, like most hormones, and the prohormone (precursor hormone) pregnenolone. Pay attention to this part: Pregnenolone itself is very sensitive to stress.  High stress means low pregnenolone levels, after a time.  Low pregnenolone means low testosterone.  So the moral of the story is: find ways to limit or cope with stress and get the manly benefits you are looking for, naturally.

 

So how does diet fit in with testosterone?  Just like any healthy diet, yours should have the right mix of vitamins, minerals, proper fats, and proteins.  Vitamin A is essential for healthy ovarian tissue as well as healthy testicular tissue.  It is also required for testosterone formation.  Eating carrots, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, and yams are just a few ways to get a natural abundance of vitamin A.

Vitamin E is another component that aids in the production of sex hormones and leads to proper blood circulation to the tissues that produce said hormones.  You can get plenty of vitamin E from nuts, spinach, asparagus, peas, and beans, just to name a few sources.

 

B vitamins are another key requirement for a healthy and optimal functioning endocrine system.  These vitamins aid directly by being a component of testosterone formation and a weapon that the body uses to fight the effects of stress.  Lastly, they also aid the body with maintaining endurance and daily energy.   Some good sources of B vitamins are eggs, beans, beef, broccoli, whole grains, nuts, and poultry.

 

Saturated fat, though given a bad name for so long, is vital to health and vitality.  Saturated fat is how the body manufactures cholesterol.  Without cholesterol, the human body has no means of producing testosterone, and no means of producing any hormones at all.  In fact, without cholesterol we would be dead!  Another important contribution we get from fats are Omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that combine with other fat-derived products and hormones, vitamins, and minerals to create testosterone.  The best sources of fat and cholesterol come from lean meats.  The saturated fat in lean beef provides plenty of quality cholesterol.  Cold-water fish such as salmon provide good sources of Omega-3.  Range-fed beef, free-range chicken, and wild-caught salmon, while all expensive, do provide complete sources of protein, Omega fatty acids and cholesterol, as well as vitamins and minerals.  Olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocados are also sound vegetable sources of fat.

 

 

Minerals such as zinc, magnesium, and selenium are key factors in the processes involved with the creation of sex hormones.  There is a great deal of biochemistry involved and you probably do not want to know the details.  But as an example, vitamin B6 + zinc + omega 3 fatty acid + cholesterol = testosterone.  This is a very simplistic equation and the process is so much more involved, but this should suffice to give you an understanding of how each component is needed for complete health.

 

Other natural methods to support testosterone production include exercise (in the form of heavy resistance training where you utilize large muscle groups), limiting alcohol consumption, and getting plenty of rest. Resistance exercise, as well as running sprints, stimulates testosterone production and prevents the male body from producing estrogen instead (yup, that’s possible).  While alcohol does reduce testosterone levels, a few drinks now and then will not turn a man into a woman.  Over-consumption, however, will be detrimental to healthy levels of testosterone.  Rest, as we all know, will help stave off the effects of stress as well as support recovery from exercise.  Also, the body produces most of its testosterone during sleep, with the highest levels of the 24-hour cycle coming just after waking for the day.

 

While this is a simplistic explanation testosterone production, the main point is that diet is the single dominating factor controlling the human body.  Diet can make you sick or make you well.  Apply the bits of information provided to help ensure your vitality and vigor – no Product X needed.

 

“Thoughts create words, words create action, action creates habits, habits create character, and character defines your destiny.”

 

When approaching nutrition, sometimes it seems that the harder we try, the farther away from our goals we seem to get.

It’s a lot like falling asleep: the more I concentrate, the less likely I am of actually falling asleep! Similarly, when we start a diet, we tend to concentrate on the things we can no longer have, which creates a struggle.

 

We can constantly fight that struggle and maybe see results, or better yet we can just remove the struggle altogether. 

 

For example: let’s say you’re somewhere talking to your significant other, and a very attractive person wearing provocative clothes walks by. The struggle would be not to look. The general idea is to tell yourself, “don’t look, don’t look, don’t look.”

 

The more you think about not looking, the more the option of looking is on the table. A better approach would be to simply concentrate on looking at your significant other.

So, how does this apply to nutrition? If I start eating clean and tell myself I can’t have pizza, the more pizza will be on my mind. Instead of concentrating on what I can’t have, I need to start concentrating on the things I can have. Removing the struggle does not happen overnight, just as habits aren’t created overnight, but controlling our thoughts is the first step in doing so.

Controlling your thoughts is a huge step in the right direction for achieving a life change with nutrition. Let’s say you’re concentrating on the right foods and doing a great job.  You’re seeing results, you’re making changes, and then all of a sudden a birthday or a wedding pops up, your best friend made you your favorite food, and you stray from the routine you’ve tried so hard to get into.

This is usually where the second pitfall comes into play. For many people, thoughts like this run through their mind: “Well, I blew my diet.” “Everything went down the toilet.” “I cheated, so might as well really cheat.”  If we go back to the word “diet” and think of eating in a habitual way, we soon realize that for you to be upset means you actually thought you were going to go through life never eating your favorite food, or cake, or pizza etc…Not very realistic.

When thinking about nutrition, you have to think of it like finances.  It would be funny if you went out and bought something a little out of your budget and said, “Well, I am in debt, so may as well get really into debt.” Of course not.  On the other end though, saving money is great, but if you save your entire life without spending it doesn’t really serve a purpose.

Its the same thing with nutrition.  Soo you’ve been doing a great job and you have a piece of cake.  You can either enjoy it or beat yourself up over it. If you enjoy it and stop thinking about it, you’re in the proper mindset of no struggle.  If you beat yourself up over it, you are now reverting back to the struggle and bad thoughts, which in turn usually brings on more eating.

One of the biggest pitfalls of many diets is looking at the issue and not the problem. For instance, let’s say I want to lose weight and the problem is I overeat. Now there are a lot of physiological reasons why that is and we will address them in detail in later chapters, but psychologically there are many reasons why this happens as well.

A general approach to someone who overeats and wants to lose weight is to give them fewer calories. Sometimes we take it a step further and try to fill someone up with fewer calories using larger quantities of food. Using this approach is a lot like giving gum to a smoker. Can it work? Absolutely, if the issue was that they just needed to stay busy.  Telling someone to eat less is like telling a smoker to stop smoking – they would if they could. Instead of addressing the problem (smoking /eating), we want to address the issue. Why are they smoking in the first place? Do you smoke when you’re bored, stressed, tired, to help you sleep, or to wake you up? These are the real issues. If you take boredom away, then your desire to smoke will decrease. If you pay more attention to reducing your stress level, you’ll also be less likely to smoke.

Applying this to nutrition is quite simple once you start listening to your body.  Do you eat when you’re bored? When you watch T.V.? Stressed? If you believe that your desire to eat is only triggered by hunger, go to a supermarket when you’re not hungry and just walk around the aisles looking and smelling the products – see how quick that desire for food comes.

For each of us, there’s a standard we hold in all aspects of our lives, whether it’s our financial standing, our job ranking, or even our social status.  It’s human nature to become complacent in certain aspects of our life. Some aspects we strive for and continue to grow in, and others just go into the “will get to pile”.

One way to explain this is to imagine you go on a vacation and gain 20 lbs.  When you get back, you feel so disgusted with yourself that you do whatever it takes to lose that weight. The reason for this is because that excess 20 lbs is below your internal standard. Once you get back to your original weight though, you go back to being complacent and hoping to lose that little bit of excess weight.

If you look back at your first paycheck at your first job, you might be thinking, “how did I live off of that?!” This reason it seems so hard now is because our standard of living typically increases as we increase in salary. To go back to that initial salary for many people would be extremely difficult.  And the same is true for many people who start to hit their nutrition goals.

Once someone sees that six pack pop, any time he (or she!) starts to let themselves go, that standard kicks in and they get back on the ball to get back to that body they wanted. My point is that first you need to truly increase your standard, and once you hit that new standard, you create a thought process that lasts forever. 

You’ll never want to go back – once you look in the mirror and see the body you want and wake feeling the energy you’ve missed for so long.  Those foods that were so attractive before start to lose their appeal. But creating this new standard requires you to take charge of yourself as if you were the boss. If you were in charge of someone, you wouldn’t allow them to show up to work late every day.  No, you would require them to work the entire day, and the word “can’t” would be frowned upon.

Take charge of your life, create a high standard, and keep yourself accountable!!!

 

“A man that cannot motivate himself must be content with mediocrity, no matter how strong his other talents.” – Anonymous.

 

Everyone will tell you that they have the perfect diet, the latest pill for weight loss, or even the latest and greatest workout equipment for a 5 minute makeover. The truth is that the most powerful weapon you have is your mind and motivation. If I give you the perfect diet but you don’t follow it, it’s worthless. And motivation is built just like everything else in your body.

Just like any other part of your body, it needs to be fed. You feed it and it’ll grow. Write down what your motivation is.  This is something that should take some serious thought.  Is it energy to play with your kids/grandkids, the ability to walk on the beach and feel great about the way you look, confidence to go talk to that special person, or is it to be the best athlete you can be? Whatever it is, write it down!!!

Put it somewhere where you’ll see it every day.  When you’re thinking about what you can’t eat, concentrate on that paper instead.  Lastly, you have to believe that you are going to achieve your goals. If you can’t visualize it (think it), then there’s no way it’ll ever come true.

Once you believe you’re going to accomplish this life change, you have to ask yourself, “what am I willing to do to accomplish it?”. One of the most memorable people I worked with was like a brother to me. One night we had a conversation and I asked him this very question.

It’s very easy to say, “ I would do anything!”, but I broke it down to him and asked him some very important questions. When you truly decide to make a life change, you have look beyond the moment. It’s easy to stick to a diet when you’re sitting around talking about your goals, but it’s totally different when you’re sitting around on the weekend with nothing to do.

At the time this friend was 420 lbs. I asked him, “Can you give me 6 months of your life?” Meaning, no matter what comes up for six months, you’re not going to veer to the left or right – you’re going to walk the path.  Nothing matters, no excuses!! If you’re at a birthday party, wedding, it’s the weekend, it’s your anniversary, someone comes and brings you a pie, whatever excuse we come up with, you’re not caving.

He promised me, and even more importantly he promised himself. To show you his motivation he actually put his house up for sale and moved from Texas to Virginia to live with me!  He gave me six months, and went from 420 to 240 lbs!!!

When this happens, your life literally changes. Of course the tangibles were there – he looked better and he had more energy, but it’s the non-tangibles that were really exciting!!  The confidence, the mentality that he could accomplish anything, and the work ethic to actually do it!! When people imagine their goals, they only see the body of their dreams. People usually don’t have the confidence, the energy, or desire to do and accomplish more and attack things they never thought possible. For many people,W six months is a small price to pay for an entire life of benefits.

 

With the holidays upon us,

we should all take the time to enjoy ourselves and celebrate the good things about our lives.

We deserve it – it has been a tough few years.   Family and friend gatherings, celebration dinners, holiday feasts…you should participate to the fullest.

No one wants to be that guy or gal who cannot enjoy the moment for fear of “breaking” the diet plan.

But you should also understand your options before you make a choice.

With regards to this, we at FitnessVT want you to understand soft drinks and what consuming one or many means to you.

Soft drink, soda, pop, cola – whatever you may call it, we have all experienced the fizzy sweetness at one time or another in our lives.  Some of us love soft drinks and suck them down daily while some of us avoid them completely.  Whatever your individual preference may be, here are some things to consider about soft drinks and carbonated beverages in general.

 

Sugar – The Obvious Culprit

Start with the obvious: sugar content in your average soda is astronomically high.  In most cases, a single soda contains more sugar than the average person should consume throughout an entire day.  A term used often, “empty calories,” refers to the caloric content in a soda due to the sugar.  But there is nothing “empty” about said calories at all, oh no…

 

The amount of sugar content is plainly stated on the label.  You down the carbonated sugar water, and since your liver cannot immediately process all that sugar, your body responds by releasing insulin and storing all the sugar for later usage – as fat, of course.

 

Diet Soda and those Sneaky Sweeteners

What about diet soda?  It certainly does not have sugar in it so it must be OK, right?  Well, that is a matter of opinion.  But consider these facts.  While it’s true that there is no sugar (and thus no calories) in a diet soft drink, they do have to be sweetened with something, and normally this something is aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame K or a combination of some or all of the above.  Not one of these sweeteners occur in nature.

 

Each was designed in a lab.  Some were even meant to be a component in bug poisons.  That’s right, you are sucking down roach dope and insect pesticide with every fizzy sip.  All of said artificial sweeteners have been linked to neurological disorders or a possible carcinogen.  As an example, aspartame, once ingested, is broken down and converted into…formaldehyde.  Formaldehyde was once used for embalming corpses.  In essence this is what you are drinking.  Again, just keeping the folks informed.

 

Health Issues and Soda, Continued 

The physiologic response of our bodies has a psychological consequence as well.  A short time after consuming a soft drink, our body ups dopamine production, stimulating the pleasure centers of the brain – similar to the response after doing heroin.  This is not to say that heroin and soda are comparable.  However, it does say quite a bit about people’s emotional attachment to soft drinks and cravings for soft drinks.

 

Soda is acidic.  The average soda has a pH of 2.5-3.0.  The human body is typically pH 7.1-7.5.  Lowering the body’s pH has many negative effects on health.  Just a few of these are lower metabolism, increased inflammation and inflammatory responses.  The acidity is a result of sodas containing phosphoric acid and carbonic acid.  High levels of dietary acid have been shown to result in kidney stones and renal problems.

 

In addition, phosphoric acid and calcium share a relationship.  Anytime a drink such as soda is consumed, the body must release minerals in order to buffer the acids and non-mineralized liquid (carbonated water).  Phosphoric acid is buffered by calcium.  Where does this calcium come from?  Bones, teeth, muscle tissue…these are the places where the human body stores calcium and other minerals.  While this may not cause outright osteoporosis, consuming acidic, non-mineralized beverages such as soft drinks does not help one maintain optimal health.

 

So there we have it.  Soft drinks are something we have an option to drink every single day.  But so is water.  The above information should help us all make smart, informed choices for ourselves and for those we are responsible for.  Could we survive by never drinking a single soft drink?  Certainly!  Will drinking the occasional soft drink immediately cause us to dry up and fall over dead?  Of course not.  Stay safe and stay hydrated, and make smart choices about what you drink.

“Drinks all around!”

 

Alcohol consumption is common practice in America and has become a large part of our culture.

But while alcohol is very popular, drinking it comes with a whole host of risks and can derail anyone from reaching his or her dietary and fitness goals.

Other than the drastic drop in athletic performance, alcohol leads to mental impairment, addiction, diabetes, stomach, liver and kidney disease, lower testosterone, and weight gain — just to name a few. 

 

Like the other macro-nutrients that provide the body with calories, alcohol provides the body with seven calories per gram. This is just two calories less than pure fat, raising one’s total caloric intake when alcohol is consumed.  These calories, however, are not used the same way.

 

Alcohol Leads to Fat Storage

When alcohol is ingested, it is converted into acetate in the liver which then floats in the blood stream. Under normal circumstances, the body prefers to use carbohydrates and fats for energy, and as a last resort, it will use protein.  But when acetate is present in the blood from consuming alcohol, the body quickly begins to burn it for energy instead of using carbohydrates and fats.  So, because there is no longer an immediate need for those carbohydrates and fats, the body will shuttle them to fat stores for later use.

 

To make this problem worse, when we’re out drinking we often have more carbohydrates and fats in our system due to the fact that alcohol often leads to poor food choices. There are not many bars out there serving healthy whole food options at happy hour.   What we often see are wings, pizza, and anything else that can fit in a deep fryer.  Even though you might otherwise refrain from eating these types of foods, alcohol also tends to increase our appetite and lower our inhibitions. This is quite a dangerous combination, especially for someone dedicated to accomplishing their fitness goals.

 

Alcohol has also been shown to lower testosterone. Testosterone has a powerful fat-reducing effect and is also a very anabolic hormone. Lowering it will halt its full potential as a fat burner and decrease gains in lean mass. This ultimately will lead to a lowered metabolic rate, making weight loss an even bigger challenge. The higher someones metabolic rate, the more calories he or she will burn at rest.

 

Alcohol also can damage the stomach, especially when consumed in excess. This can lead to a decrease in the rate and efficiency in which food can digest.  This again will interfere with someone’s healthy metabolic process and weight loss process.  Lastly, alcohol use can lead to liver damage, which is where fat is broken down into fuel. Damage to the liver will slow its ability to carry out this process.

 

Is it crazy to think someone will completely refrain

from drinking alcohol? 

 

Depending on a person’s goals, no it’s not. However, drinking is a part of our culture and customs. Understanding this fact and the facts about alcohol’s effects on your performance will ultimately lead to a greater success rate in reaching your goals.

Alcohol will have a negative impact on any effort to lose body fat and will greatly lower performance. The most important takeaway message is to always drink in moderation and never lose sight of your goals.

Traveling and good nutrition for most people go together like water and oil.

 

So to truly accomplish a life change, we have to attack this way of thinking head on.

It is not realistic to think we have to stay in the same routine, never travel, and never go on vacation to stay on point with our nutrition goals.

In this article, I want to give you the knowledge to adapt on the move and to empower you to plan ahead and stay in the game!!

 

When addressing traveling and nutrition, we have to always plan ahead. I cannot say this enough!! When training for an event, you do not just show up; you prep and game plan. This might sound intimidating, but it’s really quite simple. Start by making a road map of your entire trip and plan accordingly.

 

First you need to consider: are you flying or driving?

 

When driving, loading the car with food and drinking water is relatively easy. But when flying, you don’t want to load your one carry on bag with a bunch of food, and we all know you can’t take liquids through security. To address this, I carry an empty half-gallon bottle with me and just fill it up at the drinking fountain once I’m inside the airport. And in terms of food, you want to carry things that don’t spoil fast and don’t require utensils.

 

Don’t get me wrong — you can totally cook and carry Tupperware into the airport, but it’s definitely not for everyone.

 

When choosing travel foods, choose those that are predominately one food group. For instance, a doughnut is fat and carbs. Two food groups, not a good choice. Some good examples are as follows:

 

Carbohydrates: Apples, Oranges, Pears, Bagged Celery, Cucumber.

Protein: Jerky, Chicken Pouches, Tuna Pouches

Fats: Walnuts, Almonds, Macadamia Nuts, Cashews

 

You can easily bag a few of each of these foods and carry them everywhere you go. The most important thing is to have something with you at all times.

 

Once you get into this habit, the next items to address are portion size and timing. To help you understand how much of each food we need, I believe it’s beneficial to know what each food group does for our body.

 

Fats are our bodies primary source of fuel when we are aerobic, meaning when we have oxygen to fuel our muscles. Aerobic activities include sitting, standing, walking, and jogging. When you’re on vacation, these are probably going to be a majority of your activities, which means a majority of your calories should come from fats. In addition to fueling your body, fats release a hormone called leptin, which tells your body you’re full. This feeling will come in extremely handy while you’re on vacation :).

 

Carbohydrates are our bodies primary source of fuel when we’re anaerobic, meaning without oxygen. Such activities include lifting, running at a quick pace, Crossfit, or MMA training. This is the time that starchy carbs, like rice, quinoa, and barley, come in handy. Besides fueling your muscles, carbohydrates create glucose, which is your brain’s primary source of fuel. To fuel the brain, we want to eat the fruits prescribed to keep insulin spiking to a minimum. Starchy carbs fuel the muscles for anaerobic activity while fruits and veggies fuel the brain. We use our brain all day long, so we need to provide it with adequate energy.

 

Protein is used to repair and rebuild muscle. Typically on vacation we are not looking to build or break new records in terms of muscle gain. With that said, we still need the hormonal response from protein. When consuming protein, our bodies release a hormone called glucagon. This hormone tells your body to release stored energy. Typically, we have tons of energy stored as glycogen from carbs or lipids from fats. Telling your body to do this will increase your energy while keeping your body fat low.

 

Hopefully now you have a basic understanding of what different foods do for your body. Choosing what to eat should be based off this knowledge. If I need to release energy, I would consume protein; if I need to fuel my brain, fruit and carbs; and for overall energy, consume fats.

 

We need all these foods continuously throughout the day, so when having a snack or meal we should incorporate some of each. Your portion size should be dictated by the amount of muscle you have, the size of an individual, gender, and the amount of activity. A 200-pound man with 10% body fat should have a meal of 1 fruit, 12-16 nuts, and about 4 oz of meat. If you’re higher in body fat, lower in weight, or female, lower the intake slightly. If you’re leaner, bigger, or if your activity is more strenuous, increase the amount slightly. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just consistent.

 

The last important thing when it comes to travel and nutrition is timing. When traveling, it is extremely easy to lose track of time. Whether you’re racing to make your flight or just stuck in security, food usually is not on the top of your to-do list. When this happens, we let time slip away and then, all of a sudden, we are starving!!! So remember – we have to stay ahead of the hunger!! To prevent this scenario, set a timer on your watch or on your phone and have it go off every three hours to let you know it’s time to eat.

 

Once you get to your, destination you still have to plan. Keep food and water with you everywhere you go. When your timer goes off, eat!! Another issue that will come up is eating out at a restaurant or eating at a friend’s house. When eating at a restaurant, stick with foods straight from the earth: salads with no dressing, cheese, or croutons, and meats that are lean. Opt for anything with loin in the word or lean chicken breast, shrimp, oysters, lobster, or fish. Stay away from any meats with the word rib in it, like ribeye, prime rib, or ribs in general. If you get a lean steak, you don’t have to add any fats because you get plenty in the meal. If you just get a salad with lean chicken, you can put a little olive oil and vinegar as dressing to get your fats.

 

If you’re eating at a friend’s house, stick with the same rules and keep portions to the size of your hand. Remember, it is not a contest of how much you can eat. If you have a tendency to eat everything in front of you, tell the waiter to pack half the meal in a to-go bag or tell your friend to give you a small serving.

 

I am now confident you have the knowledge to go out anywhere and stick to your program. Thanks again for using FitnessVT!!