Archive for the ‘Nutrition’ Category

Nutrition is absurdly simple.

Hard, but simple.

By and large, though, we expend our time and resources looking at the wrong things — and the choices we ultimately make come down to which promises the fastest results.

Regrettably, there are no tricks or a “superfood” protocol that can shed body fat and get you from point A to point B lightning fast. But, there are some gold nuggets I’d like to share with you that can have a tremendous effect in terms of your health and body composition.

1. Don’t fear salt

 

We’ve been indoctrinated into this mindset where salt is to be avoided at all cost. Despite the widespread belief salt is bad for you, I’m here to tell you it is in fact a major contributor for optimal health and performance. I say this with a complete understanding it will likely take a couple more years before we erode the vilification of salt.

It’s an essential mineral.

It aids in digestion and regulates your metabolism, increases blood flow and circulation, which then helps deliver nutrients to the body, and helps remove waste.

Conversely, salt restriction can have an adverse effect on your health. You’ll start to run into problems such as: low blood volume, electrolyte imbalance, chronic fatigue, and headaches. These symptoms become more pronounced if you exercise regularly.

Likewise, when you cut out salt from your diet, your body compensates — it pulls minerals from your bones. In turn, you start to run on fumes, which then elevates your heart rate and blood pressure.

So, if you think about it the very thing you’ve been told to restrict is actually causing the problem.

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2. Consider taking a vitamin D supplement

 

It’s been well documented low levels of vitamin D poses a real risk to your health. Granted, it may not be the only micronutrient we want to pay attention to, but it is a major player.

It largely affects your mood, energy, sleep, and can negatively impact your cognitive function and brain health. It’s also worth mentioning that it plays a significant role in your immune system, and is strongly associated with your body’s sensitivity to insulin. In other words, if you’re low in vitamin D chances are carbohydrates aren’t your friend.

Sadly, more than 40 percent of American adults are considered deficient. In addition to sunlight, fatty fish such as tuna and salmon, whole eggs, and dairy are among the best sources.  

For adults, a safe range to supplement is 2,000-4,000IU daily.

3. Everybody should be taking a magnesium supplement

 

Once you have the point above in check, it’s important to outline the inclusion of another micronutrient, magnesium. Sufficient levels of magnesium is required because they aid in the absorption and metabolism of vitamin D.

Recent research suggests that vitamin D alone could possibly be dangerous. Too much leads to a surplus of calcium in the blood, which can cause calcification of the arteries.

Without magnesium taking vitamin D alone is rendered useless. What’s more, low magnesium has been shown to increase blood pressure, and has a negative effect on carbohydrate metabolism. There is also an increased risk of bone fractures, which could also be attributed to low vitamin D.

For males, shoot for 400-450 mg. For females, 300-350 mg. If you choose to go the au naturel route, nuts and leafy vegetables are among the best food sources of magnesium.

4. A brief period of eye-bulging discomfort is what you might need

 

Restrictive methods are completely unwarranted because at the end of the day if you can’t adhere to a plan long-term, then you’re bound to crash at some point. Meanwhile, there are certain individuals who need a degree of restraint in order to get the ball rolling.

I’m all for kicking your feet up and enjoying a savory meal, but for the sake of your progress, a brief period of eye-bulging discomfort is what you might need. Generally, those who are sedentary and have baggage need to consider eliminating, or at the very least, meticulously controlling their guilty pleasures.

Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh, but I’ll tell you what, it’s certainly the best approach to reduce your body fat and unsightly gut.

This strategy may not be sustainable, but for 30-60 days you’d be surprised how far better off you’ll be when you put aside things that are counterproductive. Effectively, you’ll improve your health markers which positively impacts body composition. It’s not punishment. It’s a rite of passage.

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5. Pay close attention to your gut

 

For some odd reason, people perceive gas and bloating as healthy.  This is especially true for those who habitually go on detoxes. Frankly, I find it mildly entertaining.

I hate to break it to you, but the only reason a detox might work well in the beginning is because you’ve eliminated the crap you normally consume.

Gas and bloating is not by any stretch of the imagination, healthy. And, if you’re going straight to the toilet that should already give you an indication that it is anything but. Moreover, continuing to consume foods or stay on a diet that causes gut distress wreaks havoc on your health and performance —  and it makes fat loss extremely difficult.

6. Hydrate first thing in the morning

 

This is one of those “Thank you, Captain Obvious” moments.

And, it’s certainly a drum I keep beating, for good reason. The vast majority are chronically dehydrated. Many disregard and fail to understand the importance of adequate hydration.

Instead of drinking a glass of cold water first thing in the morning, you’re reaching for a cup of coffee. I’m no purists, but the most important things we should give our attention to are often the simplest.

Along with sleep, drinking enough water is the easiest thing you can do to move forward.

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1. You can follow a well-designed training program to a T, but if you’re not doing the simple things such as drinking enough water and getting adequate rest, you’re just spinning your wheels.

2. It’s going to be hard, and it’s going to suck — there’s no easy way around it. Welcome and embrace the suck factor. Balance is to be appreciated, but recognize that to a certain extent you’re going to have to trend further away from that to get the desired result you’re looking for. Nothing amazing ever happens by staying in the middle. If you want to make significant changes in your appearance, suck it up.

I’m not saying you should suffer, but it’s foolish to think that it shouldn’t be difficult.

3. It’s a clear observation that completely disregarding the importance of proper nutrition is foolish, to say the least.  Look, I get it — it’s incredibly hard. But consider how many benefits have the potential to dramatically improve your physique and performance if your diet was on point.  Understand that there is a trade-off and you have to exercise serious discipline (not restriction).

4. At the risk of ruffling feathers, most folks would see promising results if they mitigated liquid calories (juices, alcohol, etc.) and increased their daily protein intake.

5. Progress takes time to manifest, and it’s no different than cooking up a fine meal in the kitchen. Don’t rush it. Be patient.

6. How many calories you burn in a workout pales in comparison to what you do the other 22-23 hours during the day. With that in mind, a lot who struggle to get lean overlook the value of daily activity.

As a frame of reference, my activity level is pretty darn high when you factor in my own training, and the hours I spend coaching my clients.  It’s the very reason why I have to eat a substantial amount of high quality calories in order to maintain my body composition. Now compare that to someone who works at a desk all day.

Get up, and get more movement in.

7.  Your environment can overwhelm you if you’re trying to improve your approach on the nutrition front. So, if you find yourself always hopping on and off the horse, you need to do a better job of preparing your meals ahead of time.

8. We all have our trigger foods. We tell ourselves just a few bites, but they’re just too irresistible. As much as I love pizza, it doesn’t give me a solid ROI in terms of having a positive outcome on health and body composition because I just end up eating the whole box.  There’s no guilt, but that’s just way too many calories. If you can’t control your portions, look into the possibility of cutting it out (for the time being).

9. It doesn’t matter what training protocol you do. You can’t out-train a destructive lifestyle. Regardless of the training method, all you’re doing is breaking your body down.  What you do outside is going to dictate your results. If you live for the weekends, you’re not going to get anything in return.  Yes, there are people who can get away with eating crap, and getting minimal rest. But, there is a tipping point.

Good intentions and justifying yourself on social media doesn’t mean much. Consider the different elements in your lifestyle that are a hindrance. Work to gradually change them and in turn, you’ll maximize results in the gym.

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Just so we’re clear, there is absolutely no supplement out there that is going to make up for crappy nutrition and destructive eating habits. Supplements are there to supplement your diet.

With that in mind, food is always going to be superior to supplements. There’s no debate in saying that your nutrition should primarily consists of whole foods — it’s a given. But, there are a handful that I strongly recommend looking into.

1. Curcumin

 

Curcumin is the yellow pigment associated with Turmeric — and is perhaps the most powerful supplement I’ve taken. In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, its other effects range from pain management to benefits that affect nearly every organ system in the body. One of my long-time clients who has osteoarthritis in both knees has experienced tremendous feedback from supplementing with curcumin.

The caveat, though, is that it has poor bioavailability. So, you need to ingest curcumin as part of a formula that contains piperine (black pepper extract) to enhance absorption.

2. Vitamin D

 

More than 40 percent of American adults are thought to be deficient in vitamin D.  In fact, every time I ask my clients for their blood work, more often than not, their vitamin D level is sub-optimal. Interestingly enough, when carbohydrate intake is controlled, I’ve found that supplementing with Vitamin D has a positive effect on Hemoglobin A1c. So, if you’re pre-diabetic, look into your Vitamin D levels. Of course this is just anecdotal evidence.

3. Magnesium

 

Magnesium is a big player for a number of biochemical reactions that keep the body functioning properly. Unfortunately, most people across the population are deficient in it. A deficiency has been shown to increase blood pressure and has a negative effect on carbohydrate metabolism.

If you don’t want to supplement, nuts and leafy vegetables are among the best food sources.

4. Fish Oil

 

It’s pretty obvious that we all should be taking this due to it’s variety of health benefits. There’s ample evidence that suggest it promotes healthier blood vessels, and lowers lipid count. Omega-3 fatty acids delivers potent anti-inflammatory effects, and the most obvious is that it has a positive effect on brain and cardiovascular health.

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