Before I continue with this post, I have to ask that you please forgive me if what I’m about to say comes off as a little harsh. This is a conversation that I have all the time with my personal training clients and it always starts and ends the same…
I don’t get it, I really want to lose weight, I want to change my body, but I just can’t.
…and my answer is always the same.
You don’t want to change your body. You say you do…
Now, before I get to my point, I have to ask you the same question. Do you want to change your body? I mean it. Do you REALLY want to improve your physique?
Obviously, we all want a better physique. We all want to look better. Just not at the sacrifice of that one cookie. That same cookie is holding us all back.
Now, I’m just using cookies as and example here.
You’re at the office and you have been doing well with your nutritional plan. It’s Friday and a coworker decides to bring a box of cookies. You’ve been good all week, you deserve it. Besides, It’s just one cookie right?
The truth is, that cookie will not set you back. It can’t set you back. If it could, then I would be the first to tell you that this whole exercise and nutrition thing is just not worth it.
The problem comes when we continually try to justify all those little moments when we slip on our diet and exercise program.
You had a long day at work and had to put in a few extra hours. You got up early that morning and worked out hard yesterday anyway. You can take the day off right? it’s just one workout.
Just an hour ago I was working with a client and after a great workout I asked how her nutrition was.
“Oh, I’m doing really well. I did goof a little bit today… but it was only half a burger. I didn’t eat the whole thing”
“It was just half a burger.”
And that’s exactly when i started digging. A new burger joint has just opened up in the neighborhood. Five minutes into the conversation she confessed that she had already (within a one week period) gone to this spot three times and had half a burger on each occasion.
At the end of it all, within a one week period, it turns out that she had accumulated two FULL burgers, enough appetizers for a month, and half a milk shake. And who knows how many little things she forgot to mention.
We tend to justify and quickly forget about all the little things but believe me when I tell you…
It all adds up!
Now this is exactly why I ask my all clients to keep an accurate journal. It is important to record all nutritional and exercise behaviors so that by the end of the week we can accumulate all the little mishaps.
That one cookie along with that missed workout (which quickly became two if not three) along with all those other events that seemed minimal at the time have accumulated to one big set back.
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If you’re looking for a fun and effective way to shed fat and build muscle, then I highly recommend you look into this ranking system. You can find a trainer in your area by visiting the link to the right.
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There are many lifestyle changes that go along with the decision to get healthy and lose weight. For example, a new diet that consists of a lot of vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats replaces the processed carbs. Also, sitting around is no longer an option, as there are weights to lift and intervals to sweat through. However, an element of fat loss that is rarely spoken about, but can have a drastic effect on weight loss, is water.
Just like protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals, water is a nutrient. Approximately sixty percent of our body is composed of water and it is essential for just about every function in the body including maintaining body temperature and transporting other nutrients. Water is so important that even a three percent loss will result in decreased performance of the body and death occurs when the losses reach seven percent. In addition to these vital purposes, water also plays an important part of many processes that cause and support fat loss.
First of all, burning calories requires an adequate supply of water to operate effectively and dehydration will significantly decrease fat metabolism. Also the chemical reactions that occur during metabolism produce many toxins, water removes these from the body. Water is required by the muscles and joints to move properly and without pain and is a main component of blood, which carries oxygen and nutrients to these working structures. Therefore, dehydration can severely decreases the ability to exercise intensely and expel energy. In addition, water can aid in satiety (feeling full) when included with meals resulting in eating less and assisting in creating a negative calorie balance.
The most common, blanket recommendation for water consumption is sixty-four ounces (eight, eight ounce glasses). An individualized recommendation is to drink, in ounces, half of one’s bodyweight, in pounds, per day. However, these recommendations are for those at rest in a controlled climate as exercise and heat can easily double the body’s hydration needs. A minimum of eight extra ounces will need to be consumed for every fifteen to twenty minutes of intense exercise and all recommendations, both at rest and during activity, should increase by fifty percent in higher temperatures.
Ingesting the amount of water needed for optimal weight loss and healthy functioning will require daily conscious attention. Just as breakfast is extremely important to break the overnight fast and jump start the metabolism, consuming at least one glass of water (and preferably two) immediately upon waking will greatly impact everyday hydration. There are many tips on ensuring adequate water intake through the rest of the day such as drinking a glass at every transitional point during the day (i.e. leaving the house, arriving at work, every meal, etc.), drinking a glass every hour during the work or school day or drinking a glass after every trip to the restroom. The key is to find a system that works within your lifestyle and focus hydration around workouts (one glass fifteen to thirty minutes before, one glass every fifteen minutes during and two to three glasses after).
Water is an essential nutrient for weight loss. This zero calorie beverage is an important part of fat metabolism and burning calories as well as improving feelings of fullness during meals. Building a routine to drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day with focused replenishment surrounding physical activity is a fundamental lifestyle change to achieve the lean body you desire.
There is a principle developed by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto that states: “eighty percent of the effects comes from twenty percent of the causes.” Pareto’s principle has been applied to many business and health practices through the years since its inception in the early twentieth century and also relates to nutrition for both weight loss and maintaining the lean body that you crave. Most of the results from eating healthy are derived from two simple habits that can be immediately integrated into a daily routine.
Nutrition habits are superior to specific dietary recommendations because of their consistency. Daily habits will become ingrained and contribute more to your health than exact amounts that require too much calculation and preparation. With busy schedules it’s all about bang for our buck and this is exactly what a lifestyle change provides compared to the latest supplement or wonder drug. Remember the advice of another intellect from the past, Aristotle who said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
The first lean body habit to adopt is to make vegetables your primary source of carbohydrates. Vegetables are the most nutrient dense food source on the planet. This means that based on the calorie count, veggies are packed with lots of vitamins and minerals that aid in all of the processes of the body. Vegetables are also digested and absorbed slowly, providing prolonged energy. In contrast, other carbohydrate sources like bread, pasta and rice are calorie dense, contain few vitamins and minerals and are digested quickly, leading to returning feelings of hunger. By providing a plethora of these nutrients from vegetables, the body will decrease the hunger signals sent when a deficiency is detected.
The best types of vegetables are the green leafy, cruciferous (i.e. broccoli and cabbage) and brightly colored varieties. More starchy vegetables such as squash and sweet potatoes are still good choices but should be restricted to post-workout meals. Fruits, though rich in vitamins and minerals are composed of simple sugars that are absorbed quickly with spikes in blood sugar and limitation in the diet is recommended. Including vegetables with lean protein during every feeding will nourish the body without adding extra calories to the daily intake allowing you to lose fat and keep it off.
Designating water as your primary beverage is the other lean body habit that will greatly affect results. In addition to having absolutely no calories, water greatly improves digestive, cardiovascular and neural health. Hunger is often confused for thirst and feelings of fullness can be advanced with water intake. On the flip side, the body does not recognize the caloric content of liquids as well as solids and, therefore, drinking beverages such as pop, milk, fruit juice and even many sports drinks can easily increase caloric intake and fat storage without you realizing their effects.
Drinking a half gallon (8 cups) of water is day is recommended at rest and is at least double that with any intense physical activity. Making a routine in which a glass is consumed immediately upon waking and one glass with, and between every meal and snack will provide a healthy daily amount. Though it may be difficult, and some exceptions may be made for post-workout shakes, drinking only water as opposed to beverages that contain calories (especially alcohol) can lead to huge results in body composition and overall health.
The journey toward a lean body requires dedication and effort. However, some behaviors have a much greater impact than others. Consuming vegetables for the majority of carbohydrates and water as the main beverage choice will decrease calories and increase nutrients of your daily intake. These two habits are highly recommended and carry a large bearing on sculpting the body into the lean form that you desire.
Roadblocks in the journey to a lean body are inevitable. This process is neither linear nor easy, and the path will have twists, curves and dips. The ability to determine why fat loss plateaus are occurring and having solutions ready to get you back in the right direction is critical for continued success.
It is important to first differentiate between progress slowing and an actual plateau. The larger weight losses that occur at the beginning of a lean body lifestyle change cannot be expected to infinitely continue. Unfortunately, the body resists weight loss as a protection mechanism and the defense will only increase as the pounds fall off. As long as weight is lost, whether one pound or ten, the fat loss program is working. Always remember, lean body programs are more successful in the long term if they are a slow, continuous process instead of a dramatic, sudden instance. Losing less than one pound every two weeks or a weight gain should be considered a plateau and changes can be made to bust through it.
The nutrition and exercise programming that helped with the first half of the journey to a lean body is rarely the same as will result in the end goal. The reason for this and the most typical cause of a plateau in fat loss is the effect of weight loss on decreasing resting metabolic rate. The body will not expel as much energy at rest as it’s former heavier self. As a result, either the amount of calories ingested every day will have to be decreased or the intensity of workouts will have to increase, or both.
Stress is also a common roadblock to weight loss. Not sleeping for a healthy amount and living in a period of high stress can really affect the hormonal system, rendering it detrimental to fat loss. Stress can also result in seeking relief from old comforts such as the fridge or cupboards. Openly discussing stress, pursuing healthy stress relieving activities like socializing and exercise and prioritizing sleep, possibly by adopting some habits to promote it, may be the key to unlocking the next step toward the body you dream of.
If these two solutions do not push you past the fat loss stagnation, strict monitoring of nutrition to check for calorie creep may be necessary. Calorie creep is a phenomenon in which more calories are eaten without being accounted for or even consciously regarded. Calorie creep can occur due to inaccurate portion sizes, choosing the wrong types of food or extra calories due to add-ons such as dressings or condiments. This is especially critical in the later stages of weight loss when every calorie in the energy balance is important. Keeping a food journal, in which EVERYTHING ingested is written down, can be helpful, as can precise measurement of food quantities.
Obtaining a lean body is not an easy task. Worst of all, it becomes more arduous as you progress. Therefore, periods of stasis in weight loss are bound to occur. The best method is to determine the underlying cause behind this plateau and implement a solution. However, it is essential, no matter what the results, to remain positive and stay consistent in the behaviors that lead to fat loss.
To lose stored body fat, one must expend more energy than is consumed. By now, this is a widely known fact and has driven many people to hit the gym in order to sweat out the calories. Unfortunately many have ignored two very important parts of the weight loss equation, which has led to an excess of wasted time and energy and a lack of results. First of all, the consummation portion of the formula is the primary determinant of lean body success. A bad diet cannot be out trained and eating the correct foods at the right time in the recommended portions will guide fat loss more than any training program available. Secondarily, in the grand scheme of weight loss, the calories expended during exercise do not contribute to energy expenditure as much as commonly believed.
Three main factors contribute to daily caloric expenses. The thermic effect of food, or the energy required to chew, swallow, digest and absorb what we eat, constitutes approximately ten percent of the daily energy expenditure. This effect is maximized by frequent feedings (every two to four hours) and including protein with every feeding (protein takes more energy to absorb and digest than carbohydrate or fat). The caloric output of physical activity contributes twenty to thirty percent to our daily total. However, this number is not derived exclusively from exercise as, in fact, movement from everyday activities carries an even greater impact.
The largest factor, burning sixty to seventy percent of our daily calories, is the energy needed to keep our heart beating, lungs breathing and all the cells functioning. This is also known as the resting, or basal, metabolic rate and is influenced by such aspects as age, height and genetics. One other contributor to resting metabolic rate that can be altered, unlike the others, is our body composition. Muscle mass burns five times the daily calories per day (ten calories per pound compared to two) as fat and, therefore, increasing lean mass should be a priority of any lean body training program.
Although weight training does not expel the same amounts of energy during the workout as aerobic (cardio) or anaerobic (interval) training, the effects on increasing metabolism during recovery after the session are similar. However, basing the exercise choice for fat loss on in session caloric expenditure is short sighted. Weight loss studies have shown that performing aerobic and anaerobic training as the sole means of physical activity leads to loss of both fat and lean mass where as incorporating weight training results in fat loss only. Losing lean mass has dire effects on long term weight loss, as the resting metabolic rate will decrease. This indicates that consumption, physical activity, or both will have to be altered further to just maintain fat losses from cardio and interval training alone.
The most successful lean body programs that are sustainable focus on both sides of the weight loss equation. Advantageous consumption and the thermic effect of food plans involve eating smaller meals mostly composed of protein and vegetables every two to four hours. Physical activity is maximized through including extra daily activities when available and performing multi joint, larger load and shorter rest resistance training for at least three hours per week. Interval training is also beneficial and should be incorporated if more than three hours of exercise time is available with aerobic training utilized for recovery alone. These recommendations will aid in turning the weight loss equation into a formula for developing the lean body you desire.
It is often during hectic times that we forget the importance of maintaining our health.
Not only is it important to ensure that our children get the right vitamin and mineral supplements, it is also important that you get the vital benefits from vitamin supplementation as well.
So what do you look for when choosing a multivitamin? Interestingly, we assume all multivitamins are the same and it doesn’t matter which one we choose.
However, there are certain things you should look for when choosing a multivitamin. A recent evaluation by Consumer Labs actually found that 12 top multivitamin brands actually failed their tests.
Look for a product that provides at least the following 10 vitamins:
Finding a good multivitamin is a great first step in improving general health. It is important to remember that vitamins and minerals are essential to life but are not made by the body; they have to be absorbed from our diet or supplements.
Since it is often difficult to maintain a well-balanced diet, the incorporation of a multivitamin in every diet is recommended.
As important as exercise is, you just can NOT make up for a bad diet by spending extra hours in the gym.
So, you have chosen a lifestyle of energy, health, fitness and exercise. Ask just about any fitness trainer what the most important part of a well balanced fitness program is and most will probably answer – Exercise. Sure, we’re fitness trainers and that’s how we are conditioned. Well, as a fitness trainer myself and certified strength & conditioning specialist, I would have to strongly disagree with this far too common misconception.
This might sound backwards coming from someone who comes from a background dedicated to exercise, but there is an old motto that holds the truth…
No Matter How Hard You Train, You Simply Can’t Out Train A Bad Nutritional Plan
Think about it for a second and I’ll give you a quick example:
Imagine, you’re at the gym and you jump on a treadmill. The incline is set, there are absolutely no distractions and you’re zooming for an hour straight. When it’s all said and done, you burned a total of 500 calories – maybe 600 at most. You get home you feel great but all that work makes you hungry of course. Knowing that your post workout meal is important you put together a healthy low calorie dish. You are doing great and you are proud of your accomplishments. The next day you perform the exact same routine… A great workout followed by a perfectly balanced meal. Later that night your friends give you a call and they all want to go out for a quick social get together.
You think, what’s the harm? I’ve been good all week and now I deserve a little reward for all my efforts. With that, you accept the invite and off you go to meet your friends.
Before you know it, you get chatting and the beverages start flowing. First you started off with a vodka and diet Coke – it is, after all, the lowest calorie alcohol. Feeling good about your choice, you decide you still have yet to reward yourself and order a jumbo pina colada. Now the damage is done. Most cocktail beverages easily pack in a good 500-600 each and you didn’t stop at just one. Once your inhibitions were lowered, you proceeded to have three before the night was out.
Not only that but you were so overcome with your good mood after a hard work week that you decided to order up a plate of BBQ wings and then split a piece of German Chocolate Cake with Cherry and Caramel Drizzle with your friend. Now you’re easily looking at a 3000 calorie outing.
This 3000 calorie outing may have just in fact cancelled out the entire week’s worth of progress you made in the gym and with your diet. Essentially, that almost equates to one entire pound of body fat. Since there are 3500 calories per pound of fat and you consumed just about that amount on your social outing, you’ll have really done yourself in.
As you can clearly see by this simple illustration, it’s very easy to undo your effort if you’re not constantly making the right choices.
This doesn’t mean you can never indulge and treat yourself, but you must plan for it and still keep it in moderation. A 3000 calorie night out is not practicing moderation.
Phase 1 – Know Your Metabolism
The very first step is to make sure that you understand your metabolism. Your metabolism essentially represents how many calories your body burns on a daily basis just to stay alive. This includes the energy it takes to keep your heart beating, your lunges breathing, your brain functioning, your digestive system working effectively, as well as any other movements that you may perform throughout the course of the day.
The faster the metabolism you have, the more calories you burn over the course of the day and thus, the faster you will see fat loss take place. This rate is influenced by factors such as your total amount of lean body mass, your exercise volumes and intensity levels, as well as the foods you consume on a day to day basis.
If you work hard, you can actually increase your metabolism naturally so you’ll burn more calories over the course of the entire day. For most people, this is the primary goal.
As a general guideline to use, most individuals will find that their daily metabolic rate, including moderate activity levels (say 3-5 gym workouts per week) is between 13 and 15 calories per pound of body weight.
So you’d take however much you currently weigh in pounds and multiply that by 13 to 15 to get your daily maintenance calorie requirements. If you are someone who is more active (has an active job) use the higher end of that range, while if you’re less active, use the lower end.
Now to get fat loss happening, you’ll want to take in fewer calories than this number you arrived at, keeping in mind it totals a 3500 calorie deficit to equate to one pound of body fat.
Keep in mind that this is just a starting point though and you must learn your own metabolism. Once you know how many calories you’re consuming, if you aren’t losing weight, your metabolism is slightly slower than you thought. If you are losing weight at an acceptable rate, you’re right on track.
It’s easier than you think!
When structuring each meal, the easiest strategy is to follow the simple 4 step plan:
Step one – begin each meal by meeting your protein requirements. Remember that most people will need about 20-30 grams of protein per meal to meet their daily total requirements of one gram per pound.
Step two – Load up on the vegetables and fruits. As for a general rule, since fruit typically increases blood sugar levels consume fruits either early in the day or post workout when blood sugar levels are typically lower.
Step three – keep the meal within you per meal caloric budget (as calculated in phase 1). If and only if you are still within your caloric budget, then you can moderately add “Quality Carbs” to fill the remaining caloric demands.
Step four – do not allow fat content to exceed 30% of the caloric value of the meal. Of this, fats should be consumed from non animal source “healthy fats”