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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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Eugenia Reverse Sled Drag

 

1. Cardio Is Still Important

 

I’ve said many times in the past it’s possible to reduce your body fat and improve your body composition with little cardio. I’m not anti-cardio, so don’t take things out of context. There is a caveat.

If you’re a part of population that works the typical 9-5 shift sitting at a desk, your energy expenditure is going to be relatively low compared to the person who works in…let’s say, construction or delivery. Guess who needs cardio? In order to facilitate lipolysis (breakdown of fat) you have to increase your energy expenditure. So yes, that means you’re going to need to add in some form of cardiovascular/aerobic work in conjunction with strength training. Whether it’s high-intensity interval training or steady-state cardio, that’s entirely up to you. There’s no right or wrong. They both work.

2. Your Diet Is Whack

 

It’s no question folks looking to lose weight are more prone to fads and gimmicks — and because of that they engage in many dietary practices. Just because something makes you lose weight doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy for you (i.e. juice cleanses, detox). What you ideally want in a diet is sustainability, nourishment, enjoyment, and… does it actually promote a healthy lifestyle? Put another way, if your diet sucks no amount of exercise is going to overcome that.

Don’t mistake simple for ineffective. Rather than resort to extreme methods, you’ll find that all the magic can be found in getting quality sleep, adequate hydration, eating your fruits and vegetables, and minimizing junk food.

3. Fat Loss Is Not Linear

 

My primary goal has never been fat loss. It’s always been about getting strong and building lean muscle. That having been said,  what we need to appreciate more is that progress is never linear.  From a coaching standpoint, it’s really hard to pick the best course of action for individuals who keep second guessing if what they’re doing is right. If you expect to see results after having only done two weeks worth of training, you’re delusional.

It’s not a sexy answer, but you have to be patient. Just because the scale didn’t drop in one week doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not heading in a positive direction.

Take home message: the body transforms in a wave-like approach.

4. You Go “Screw It Mode”

 

I applaud discipline and consistency, but to deprive yourself of a certain food group results in unwarranted mood swings and self-sabotage. If you continuously tell yourself you can’t have something, all you’re going to do is fixate on that. On some level avoiding it entirely does help, but believe me when I say: the longer you restrict yourself, the bigger the binge.  One bite or serving of indulgence then all hell breaks loose and you have now entered, “screw it mode.” This phenomenon repeatedly happens — and unfortunately, it makes it more and more difficult for you to lose fat.

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More pressingly, food avoidance in an effort to lose fat only works in the short-term. In fact, I’ve found that not everyone can adhere to a protocol like that. True, it will create a calorie deficit which is essential for fat loss, but you’re missing the big picture. Rather than avoiding completely, practice portion control and mindful eating. You can still eat the foods you want and still make reasonable progress, but you can’t eat as much of it as you want. We want to develop good habits, and a rigid diet tends to lead us in the opposite direction.

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If you’re someone who regularly lifts weights and/or participates in any sport or discipline, then your knees have barked at you on more than a few occasions.

Trust me, I’ve been there.

Setbacks are a part of the game — no doubt about it. The pertinent issue is working around them to ensure you’re still getting a good training effect while providing yourself enough time to recover.

And let’s be real, with any type of commitment whatsoever or discipline that requires you to gradually push the envelope, there will be setbacks. If you think otherwise, then you’re not training very hard. But like I said, it’s how you work around them that’s going to determine the outcome.

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Photo Credit: T-Nation.com

Reverse Sled Drags

 

Backwards or Reverse Sled Drags have been such a great exercise not only for myself, but also for a few of my clients that occasionally experience achy knees. Interestingly, I’ve also found them to be highly effective for folks with arthritic knees — which lends itself to the fact that they not only serve as a tool to build muscle, but it’s also useful for rehabilitative purposes.

The cool thing about this, too, is that you can do them every workout or training session. It’s a concentric-based movement. Meaning, it’s less induced muscle damage — which makes this particular exercise a viable option to do at a high frequency.

Incorporating these in conjunction with a boatload of hip-dominant work (RDL, Hip Thrusts, Pull-Throughs, Band Sumo Walks) will get your knees feeling good again.

 

If you want to get stronger, build lean muscle, and decrease body fat, learn more about my coaching here. 

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