All You Need to Know About Protein

Protein – it’s what every gym rat likes to talk about.

The truth is, protein is very important for everyone looking to maximize their health. To keep it simple, protein is made up of the building blocks of tissue – amino acids. In addition to muscle, protein also makes up hair, skin, nails, hormones, and enzymes.

Besides being important for rebuilding muscle, protein has a few other pretty important attributes;

  • Protein helps with satiety, or fullness, and will help control overall intake and hunger pangs (especially late at night!)

 

  • 20-35% of calories from protein are burned through digestion or the Thermic Effect Of Food (vs. 5-15% from carbs, and 0-5% from fat) – so eating a higher protein diet keeps your metabolism revved up. Have you ever gotten the meat sweats after eating a ton of meat? It’s a real thing.

Where Do I Get Protein?

High protein foods are pretty much anything that comes from the flesh of animals, or anything produced by an animal that is edible (milk, eggs, and dairy-based protein powders).

High protein, non-animal sources include tofu and beans – which also are a moderate protein source at best and also a significant carbohydrate source.

What About Protein Shakes?

Protein shakes are technically supplements – but, they are whole food supplements. They are made from whole foods like milk, eggs, meats, or plants. They are a GREAT option to help fill in some gaps in your nutrition and are NOT just for gym bros.

Protein powders have come a very long way, and most are actually quite tasty. I recommend building a custom blend based on your needs over at TrueNutrition.com – and use coupon code “MGFITLIFE” to save some $$$

Protein is the most under-consumed macronutrient in the average American diet. For a healthy, lean, and active individual looking to maximize performance (performance not necessarily meaning athletic performance, but overall performance throughout the day to day tasks), health, and overall strength, I always recommend eating 1 gram per pound of bodyweight.

(200 lb. healthy male = 200g of protein per day, 150 lb healthy female = 150g protein).

The current US RDA for protein is a sad recommendation of 46 grams per day for females and 56 grams per day for males. These are the level you need to be at to prevent muscle wasting. Not optimal health, but the bare-bones minimum to make sure you don’t get too fit and healthy. Just another reason to trust the government…

Where this recommendation changes a bit is in overweight or obese individuals.

If looking to lose body fat, a caloric deficit is still crucial, and if somebody is 300 pounds, eating 300 grams of protein per day might not be possible or necessary.

In these cases, I like to use 1.25 grams per pound of Lean Body Mass.

Let’s say that someone is 260 pounds, and 40% body fat. 260 x .4 = 104 pounds of body fat. Taking the total weight (260) minus the body fat (104) gives us 156 pounds of lean body mass x 1.25 = 195 grams of protein.

If you are serious about your training (or health for that matter), you need to be serious about your protein intake.

Training is catabolic – meaning it breaks down muscle tissue. Sufficient protein is key for proper recovery and boosting performance. Yes, you actually BREAK DOWN muscle in the gym and build it outside of the gym!

If you are more sedentary, maybe it’s time to consider getting some weight training in – but that’s for another time. Our bodies eventually get to a point in our 30s and 40s where we start losing muscle mass – aka sarcopenia.

It’s been proven that this process can be slowed or even reversed by following even a basic full-body strength program and eating enough protein to facilitate recovery and maintain muscle mass.

How Do I Start Getting More?

Take a good look at how much protein you currently eat, and most likely you will be looking to increase your intake. If you are currently eating 100 grams, and your goal is 200 grams, I don’t recommend trying to make that jump overnight.

First, try to find what your consistent daily average is. For this example, we are going with 100 grams.

Then, try increasing by 10 grams per day for the whole week (110 grams per day). Keep increasing by 5-10 grams per day every week until you get close to your goal intake.

When people focus on increasing their protein intake, they start cutting out less nutritious foods, especially foods that are loaded with junk carbs and greasy fats – because most processed junk is high in carbs and fats, but not protein.

By simply starting slow, and slowly increasing until you get to your desired goal intake, you will be one step ahead of everyone else who is still trying to jump from fad diet to fad diet.

Now go get that protein!

If you need help getting started, look no further than online coaching. Training and nutrition! Let me help you find the best plan for you – from anywhere in the world.

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Less Exercise, More Progress?

When it comes to losing weight, we are all aware of the biggest factors – what we put in our body, and what we burn, (calories in, calories out) right? Yes. This IS the premise and most basic understanding of fat loss.

To lose body fat, the body must be in a calorie deficit (eating less than you burn!). This triggers the body to breakdown stored fat for energy to power your body for even the most routine everyday tasks.

So wouldn’t it make sense that if we added more to the other side of the equation (burning more calories) it would work the same way?

In essence, yes, it would. But for most people, this is NOT the way to look at it, and here’s why.

3 Reasons Adding More Exercise Is a Terrible Idea for Fat Loss

1) You already are crunched for time.

I’ve had clients talk about their stressful week for a whole session, then end with “I think I need to work out more.” To this, I ask, “when are you going to do this?”.

More exercise might seem like a simple thing to do versus paying attention to your food. But let’s be real if you already are working 60 hours per week, running your kids to and from events, sports, etc. or failing to get 7 hours of sleep per night – you don’t need to make your day any more jam-packed.

I’m a big fan of a minimum of 3 days per week of serious training, and more CAN be better if, and this is a BIG if, you are properly recovering from it and balancing your life overall.

2) You haven’t given ANY thought to your food.

You cannot outrun your fork. You cannot outwork a crappy diet.

“But Mike, my friend started working out every day for 2 hours and lost…”

Where is that friend now?

Look, you will lose weight anytime you go from doing nothing to something. However, is spending 2 hours a day working out, packed into a gym, or living in sweat-soaked clothes something you want to do the rest of your life?

Many people who live by the workout burn, “die” by the workout burn.

They don’t actually die, but their progress is often short-lived because inevitably, life gets in the way. and they can no longer get in 14 hours of exercise a week, they burn out, or they start getting too loose with their food.

3) Your Life is Stressful

Here’s a shocker. Stress sucks.

When we talk about adding more exercise, usually people are referring to more intense exercise. Another weekly boot camp, another HIIT workout, another long run, another WOD…

These types of workouts all add stress to your body.

Now, if you are properly balancing out that stress, this is fine! Exercise stresses your body – this is normal and physiologically needed. However, if you are constantly piling up the stressors, throwing MORE stressors on top of things WILL NOT WORK.

What else stresses our body out?

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Dieting
  • Social media exposure
  • Caffeine consumption
  • Screen time usage
  • Alcohol consumption

Well, I think I just described 99% of people who are forcefully struggling through trying to sweat off the pounds.

When we are stressed, our body releases cortisol and a lesser-known hormone, betatrophin.

Betatrophin was once thought to be a potential aid to those struggling with diabetes but now has been found to prevent fat loss – by blocking the breakdown of adipose (fat) tissue.

SO IT’S ALL MY HORMONES FAULT!

No.

Many nutritional gurus like to blame hormones for everything. Truth is, they can be a major catalyst in struggling with fat loss, but it always comes back to that tried and true calories in, calories out that we discussed above.

When you are stressed, overworked, under recovered – you are psychologically more likely to gravitate towards calorie-dense junk food – which is pretty much everywhere.

You are less likely to care about your food intake, but then get frustrated when you don’t see the results you want.

You are most likely either eating more than you think or not burning as much as your little gadget tracker tells you.

When you are stressed, under-eating, and over-exercising – you will get sick, you will burn out, and you will eventually give up. This is no way to live life, no way to try and lose weight, and no approach that I will ever advocate to anyone.

WHAT CAN WE DO?

Chill out.

Stop trying to add more exercise, or cut more calories.

Exercise should be treated as a means to build, not burn. Build muscle, build strength, build confidence, build endurance, build functional strength, build health.

Replace your desire to add a 5th HIIT class with a 30-minute chill session every night before bed. Meditate, read a calming book, or just chillax.

If you are currently spending 6+ hours per week exercising, but not paying any attention or care to your food – here’s what we do:

  • Get your lift on because you enjoy it – 3 days per week, 45 minutes maximum.
  • You now have at least 3 hours of your week back to plan meals, shop, cook, prep, track your food, etc.

I GUARANTEE that you will get better results if you do this.  

Be patient with yourself and realize that if life has you down right now, or you are busier than busy can be – now might not be the best time to go hardcore on training or dieting – and that’s okay too!

This doesn’t mean to live like a slob and eat your way to obesity.

You can still be active and pay attention to your food choices. Be mindful of what you do to de-stress. Be mindful of your food quality – and realize that quality food often leads to quality feelings/health – but you don’t need to put the pressure of diet and exercise on yourself.

Funny enough, you will probably still lose significant weight even if you do this.

Check out these other ways to decrease your stress levels HERE!

 

If you need help getting started on a sustainable, realistic plan – look no further than online coaching. Training and nutrition! Let me help you find the best plan for you – from anywhere in the world.

For more information, click HERE!

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Get More Sleep, Lose 10 Pounds?

“All you need is more sleep, and you will lose 10 pounds, easily” – Overheard at the airport.

Yes, I was eavesdropping. I can’t help it. Every time I’m in a public place, and hear people talking about fitness or nutrition topics I become intrigued. How do you think I come up with half of my article topics?

I ESPECIALLY tune in where I hear people talking about fads, guru logic, and quick fixes. Part of me wants to interject and save them from their own demise, but more importantly, it is essential as a fitness and nutrition professional to know what the average person is hearing about health through the pop media sources.

When I heard this person say the previously mentioned sleep line, I started instantly internally debating the topic. Can more sleep, in itself, lead to fat loss? Maybe…but highly unlikely from JUST adding more sleep.Image result for sleep

However, sleep IS very crucial to optimal fat loss, performance, and well-being. It can oftentimes be a missing piece of the puzzle when everything else seems to be in check.

Will Getting More Sleep Alone Lead to Fat Loss?

Short answer, NO. A caloric deficit will lead to fat loss. However, there may be some less obvious added benefits of getting enough sleep…

From a hormonal standpoint:

Studies have shown that when sleep is deprived, less than 6 hours per night, the bodies levels of ghrelin increase. Ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates hunger, plays a huge role in how much we eat, and thus overall caloric consumption. Lack of sleep increases ghrelin and thus makes us want to eat more.

From a Captain Obvious Standpoint:

This may be a no brainer, but we also cannot eat when we are sleeping – thus less time for caloric consumption. We have all had those nights, drunkenly mindlessly eating popcorn, chips, ice cream…just because. Or is it because we are tired, but really need to see how the re-run of “Naked and Afraid” ends? (spoiler – they get out okay 90% of the time, still naked, lose 10-20 pounds, and get some arbitrary number increase in Primal Survival Rating (PSR))

By staying awake 2-3 hours longer than we probably should, we are leaving the door wide open for more mindless caloric consumption.

From a body composition standpoint:

In a very interesting study done in 2010, researchers found that when overweight participants were put on a hypo-caloric diet (only 1450 calories per day) for 2 weeks, they lost the SAME amount of WEIGHT (6.6 pounds!) regardless of sleep (Group A averaged 7.5 hours, Group B averaged 5.25 hours).Image result for sleep for fat loss

HOWEVER! The adequate sleep group lost 3.1 pounds of fat and 3.3 pounds of muscle, while the sleep-deprived group lost 1.3 pounds of fat, and 5.3 pounds of muscle.

The takeaways of this small study are:

  • Losing 6 pounds in 2 weeks is very fast, and will likely result in some muscle loss… (no bueño)
  • More importantly to this article, sleep deprivation can inhibit fat loss, and lead to more muscle loss.
  • This may be due to the importance of sleep, and it’s relation with growth hormone production, and thus muscle protein synthesis and muscle anabolism aka #GAINZ

From an exercise standpoint:

To be blunt, when you are sleep deprived, you can’t perform at your best during workouts. When you can’t perform your best you run into:

  • Fewer calories burned
  • Increased risk for injuries
  • Increased risk for even more burnout

When you aren’t getting the most out of your workouts, you aren’t stimulating your muscle to maximal potential and thus priming it for development. More muscles = higher metabolic rate = more fat burning at rest, and throughout the day (see above in regards to GH, muscle protein synthesis).Image result for sleeping in the gym

From a short-term standpoint, it’s just harder to get amped up for a workout when you are tired and feel like napping instead!

So going back to the line, “All you need is more sleep, and you will lose 10 pounds, easily”.

Is this true? Maybe.

Is sleep important for fat loss and reaching your desired body composition. Heck yes!

While it may not be as simple as JUST getting more sleep, it may be the missing piece of the puzzle, that will lead to more pieces nicely falling into place (less mindless snacking, more intense workouts, more muscle gain.)

Get your sleep, make it a priority, and no, coffee is not one of the main food groups.

How Do We Accomplish This Challenge?

Like anything else worth improving upon, we must start with the unsexy basics.

In a world of sleep pills, light blockers, therapy lamps, and other “bio-hacks”, so many people ignore the basics and jump to the easy fixes. Well, just like fat-loss pills and skinny tea’s – the hacks don’t work as well without a solid foundation of the basics.

Reverse Engineer A Consistent Routine.

For those of us with kids, we all know how important a routine is. With a toddler, all it takes is one night of allowing them to do something different and the routine can be thrown off for days.

As adults, we hate having routines because we feel like we are above them, but we are not. We need them now more than ever.

If we know need 7-8 hours of sleep as adults, it’s quite simple to create your ideal routine.

You know what time you need to wake up. So figure out 7-8 hours before that, and thats when you need to be asleep – not in bed, not thinking about sleep – actually asleep.

Wake up: 6 AM —–> Asleep between 10 and 11 PM

Easy enough.

Next, we need to focus on our winddown.

Physically Wind-down

Digestion, heart rate, and respiratory rate all play a role. If we eat too close to bedtime, our body is still physically trying to digest food, and thus can throw off our sleep hormone production.

Avoid eating 2-3 hours before going to sleep.

10-11PM – 2-3 = No food after 7-8pm

Slow your heart rate and breath down as well. Avoid doing strenuous things prior to bed. Be honest with yourself – can this wait until tomorrow or the weekend? It most likely can.

Also, make sure your room is as dark and cool as possible. Blackout curtains and a cool 65-67 degrees Fahrenheit is where you want it. Your bedroom is your cave. It’s for sleeping and sex only (more on this to come).

Mentally Wind Down

Here is a tough one these days.

Everyone is swimming in triggered soup before bed. Even if you are the type of person who makes fun of the easily offended, or outraged – you are probably doing much of the same within your own safe-space echo chamber.

Even if you are watching the news, reading news or late-night talking heads that you agree with – you are probably getting fired up.

Turn it off. Block it out. On the TV, on the phone, in your books – it’s not helping.

Don’t read or watch things that are too mentally stimulating either. The last thing you want to do is read a book before bed that has you questioning your entire investment strategy.

Hormonally Wind Down (or Up)

Some hormones help us sleep. Some don’t.

Phones and other digital screens emit blue light, blocking the production of the hormone melatonin, which creates our “go to sleep” alarm. And no, it’s not as simple as just supplementing with melatonin. Your natural production is like the finest tap of pure, 100%, uncut good stuff.

Cut your screen time 1-2 hours before bed.

Phones off by 8-9 PM.

Here’s the first bio-hack – you CAN block some of the blue light with blue blocker glasses, but just like taking melatonin supplements, it’s not a perfect cure-all.

Need some hormonal help sleeping?

Have sex. Having an orgasm has a huge sedative effect on most people. It triggers a rush of endorphins and other hormones towards the same part of your brain that regulates your arousal and your sleep-wake cycle. Endorphins are hormones that make you feel great and drop your cortisol level usually related to stress.

Cut the Bandaid Approach

Living off caffeine all day, using alcohol to wind down, and reaching for bottles of over the counter sleep supplements are bandaids over bullet holes.

If you need caffeine all day, you NEED to prioritize your sleep and get into a routine ASAP.

You should not be drinking any caffeine within 5-6 hours of bedtime.

Alcohol does not help you sleep better. It may feel like it, but all it takes is one look at a sleep tracker to realize that even a drink or two can strongly inhibit quality sleep, especially deep sleep.

The night on the left was a night were a few cocktails were had.

You can see, I was in bed for 8 hours and 41 minutes but only was asleep for 6 hours and 27 minutes. Super low REM sleep, and SUPER low Deep sleep. All, not good things.

Taking sleep aids, like melatonin, magnesium, and other sleep boosters – CAN help. However, if you are not addressing the BIG ROCKS first, they will have minimal benefit.

What would I recommend if you want to go all-in?

Again, for the third time, taking supplements will not make a huge difference if you don’t address the bigger issues like schedule, routine, and environment.

Start reverse engineering your sleep schedule now, and stick to it. This is not something that will change overnight, but like all the other un-sexy, non-quick fixes when it comes to health – it takes time and consistency.

If you need help getting started, look no further than online coaching. Training and nutrition! Let me help you find the best plan for you – from anywhere in the world.

For more information, click HERE!

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Rules Are Good For Everyone

Rules. We set them for our children, we hate them as kids and teens, and we yearn for them as adults.

Yes. Everyone needs rules. Whether we want to admit it or not, rules are the most basic form of having a structured life, and through structure, we find freedom.

We already follow many rules in life, and I’m not talking about the laws set forth by the government, but more so “rules” in the sense of “things that I just do, because it’s what I have to do”.

  • You go to work and do your job – knowing that if you don’t, you will be fired, or not paid.
  • You set aside X% of your income for retirement because as much as you want to spend that money now, you know it will be important to have down the road.
  • Want to keep your teeth? You know to brush your teeth at least twice per day.

So why is it so “bad” to set rules when it comes to fitness and nutrition-related stuff? Yes, people will argue that setting rules for your nutrition or fitness are an unhealthy approach to your health. WHAT?

Setting rules is one of the best forms of creating structure to block out the unhealthy habits that may be holding you back. For example – when we set a rule vs. say “I’m trying to do this” it has a powerful mental meaning.

When someone says “I don’t drink alcohol” vs. “I’m trying not to drink” – the person who says I DON’T has created that rule as part of their identity, thus making it easier to stick to.

Here are some examples of rules that have worked well for me, and my clients. Realize that these rules might not be for you, and are not for everyone.

I Don’t Drink on Weeknights

This is one of my personal rules. Not a drop of alcohol Monday – Thursday. Friday after work is over counts as the weekend 🙂

We all should know that drinking alcohol provides zero health benefits, yes, even a nightly glass of red wine adds up and is more likely to hurt your health than to help it. If it helps you relax and unwind, try finding an option that doesn’t involve 120 empty calories (that’s if you do a standard 5 oz pour).

The Kitchen is Closed

This is one of my new favorites that a client of mine came up with. She was struggling with eating after dinner. Mindless late-night snacking doesn’t help with most people’s goals.

Instead of saying “I’ll try not eat after dinner” it was “the kitchen is closed at 7:30”.

Straight and to the point.

And creating that catchy mantra actually helps it stick even better.

Veggies at All Meals

Not every rule has to be about NOT doing something or removing something. We all know veggies are good for us, and we likely don’t eat enough of them.

So why not make a rule that you will have a vegetable on your plate at every meal.

This rule can work for anything that you are trying to add more of – veggies, water, protein, etc.

Set it in stone and make it happen.

If-Then Rules

Setting up if-then scenarios is also a very powerful way to make things happen. If X happens, I will do Y.

This is a rule and a plan. And we all know that failing to plan means you better plan to fail.

There are infinite possibilities here, and these can be very powerful in helping you reach your goals. They can be used for exercise, nutrition, or any other habits you want to form.

Whether or not you want to admit it, rules and structures do help everyone. So stop thinking that you don’t need a schedule, or rules as an adult, and adopt a new outlook on yourself. I promise that through creating structure in your life, you will only find improvements all-around when it comes to your health.

If you need help getting started, look no further than online coaching. Training and nutrition! Let me help you find the best plan for you – from anywhere in the world.

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No, You Aren’t In Starvation Mode

I sit down to write this while sipping my coffee with a splash of French Vanilla creamer. What is a splash? The nutrition label says 1 Tbsp is 35 calories. But what about a splash? Is it more, is it less…ah it’s probably close. 

Guess what? It’s actually 3 Tbsp worth…105 calories, or a 70 calorie difference.

For a guy like me, 70 calories won’t make or break my day. But this is only my first eating time of the day. I still have breakfast, pre-workout snack, post-workout snack, lunch, dinner, and maybe another snack! That’s 6 more eating opportunities where I could be off by 70 calories.

This makes for a 490 calorie difference by the end of the day…even for me, that COULD make or break being in a surplus or deficit.

Do you see how easy it is to underestimate what we eat?

This is the biggest reason why people can’t seem to lose it, even when tracking food, following a strict diet, or just trying to “eat clean” – you are still consuming too many calories.

It’s popular for some people to say “well, I think I’m in starvation mode, so I need to eat more”. My bodies metabolism has slowed down so much that it won’t burn calories anymore.

This example may sound harsh, but do why don’t starving kids or people with anorexia experience this “starvation mode” phenomenon? It seems to only affect purposeful dieters, but not people who are actually eating too little…

Studies have shown that people underestimate their intake by almost 50%! In the UK at least…

More than 4,000 people tracked what they are for four days. Men reported consuming an average of 2,065 calories a day but were estimated to actually consume 3,119; while women reported 1,570 but actually consumed 2,393.

Good thing the US doesn’t have an obesity problem like the UK…😐

Why are we SO off from what we think we are eating? Here are the biggest reasons:

1) Little Things Add Up

Bites, snacks, sips, etc all add up. I had a client once carry around a gallon ziplock bag and put every snack, bite, sample, candy, etc. into the bag instead of her mouth. At the end of the day, we looked at it and estimated that she was mindlessly snacking on about 1000 calories every single day.

Little things within meals also add up. Let’s look at my breakfast the other day:

Oats, egg, whites, cheese, and ground beef. But what about the oil used to cook the eggs? What about the milk added to the oats? What about the salsa even? These three ingredients added up to 170 calories of this 880 calorie meal.

Little things add up.

2) Your Body Counts Calories, Even if You Don’t

Clean eating tends to give people a free pass on defying the laws of thermodynamics. It’s clean, so I can eat whatever I want!

Calories still matter, and some of the biggest culprits are healthy fats – nuts, nut butter, avocados, and heart-healthy oils.

You can totally eat these foods, but portions still matter! Measure out a tablespoon of oil. Thats about 120 calories. Pour it in a pan. Do you see how little that is? These things add up, and when you aren’t paying attention to them, you can easily miss something.

3) You Starve Yourself During the Week

Okay, maybe you are only eating 1000 calories. Monday through Thursday that is.

Then the weekend calls for fun, and a cheat day or 3. Diets are like relationships. If you start one and are already looking forward to cheating, it’s probably not going to work out well for you.

It’s quite easy to consume A LOT of calories on a weekend. I’ll throw myself under the bus here. Recently, at our cabin, we had a fun-filled Saturday. Full of pancake breakfasts, afternoon boat cruising and sipping beers, grilling out burgers, and all the side dishes to boot. Then more cocktails and smores by the bonfire… and an estimated 7000 calories later, I felt like a tick ready to burst.

So let’s say I ate 1000 calories all week, then had once binge day of 7000. That’s 13,000 calories for the week or an average of 1857 calories per day. Now you see how “I barely eat all week” can turn into a pretty moderate maintenance intake for many people.

4) You Aren’t In Control of Your Food

By this I mean you eat out too much. The chef doesn’t care about your macros, your diet, your health – he just wants you to enjoy your food, and come back again.

What makes a food super delicious? Salt, sugar, and fat. And lots of it.

When it comes to eating at restaurants you can estimate that pretty much every dish has at least a tablespoon of added oil to it, if not two.

Also plenty of salt, and never the leanest cuts of meat.

This is not to say you shouldn’t ever eat at a restaurant, but just be aware that every time you do, it’s a challenge to your intake.

5) You Lack General Awareness

How many calories in this? Is this a high-fat food? Does this food have protein in it? Will this food fill me up?

All things that everyone should have a basic understanding of. But, thank God we know what a trapezoid is.

You don’t have to be a Registered Dietitian to have a good, basic, understanding of food, calories, and nutrients. Creating awareness around your food starts with Step 1 – where are you CURRENTLY at. This is what I have ALL my clients do before we even start throwing out recommendations. We need to see your starting point and adjust from there.

So this is what I recommend to you – find your starting point, literally track everything for a week (weekends count too!), and see what you are truly eating. From there, make adjustments as needed, and off you go.

If you need help getting started, look no further than online coaching. Training and nutrition! Let me help you find the best plan for you – from anywhere in the world.

Like what you read? Want to get even more weekly wisdom, training tips, and nutrition nuggets along with up to date blog posts sent directly to your email? Sign up HERE!

Everything You Need to Know About Meal Timing

Meal timing, or nutrient timing, is a theme that shows up on and off in the world of nutrition. This is for good reason! Meal timing IS important no matter what some people might tell you. However, it may not be AS important as others say, or important for the reasons they convey.

First, meal timing is  NOT  the same as meal frequency.

Meal frequency is how many times you eat during the day. To keep this short and sweet, it doesn’t matter. Total calorie intake matters, and it doesn’t matter whether that is spread over 2 massive meals or 16 tiny snacks. Find what frequency works best for your lifestyle, and go with it. The end.

Meal TIMING is when you eat meals or snacks. Many good questions have been asked in regards to specific times over the last few weeks, so why not address them all here?

1) Is there a specific time of day you should stop eating?

Yes, and no. Old school thought was that if you eat anything after 7 pm (ish) – especially a carb – it will summon the insulin fairy straight into your body and cause you to store all that food as fat.

That is not true. Total calories matter.

However, eating later at night COULD lead to weight gain indirectly. First, if you eat more food at night, and you weigh yourself in the morning, your weight might be a little higher cause you have more “stuff” inside of you. That is literally just weight.

Otherwise, let’s be honest – most people aren’t late-night snacking on pea pods and carrot sticks. Nighttime snacks tend to be higher in calories, and if you aren’t paying attention to your intake, this could be leading to eating too much – but this can also happen at any time of the day.

Lastly, if you eat too close to bedtime, your body may be trying to digest food while you are trying to get to sleep. This can cause a decrease in sleep quality, which over time, can lead to a decrease in glucose tolerance, AND actually make you crave more sugary goodness the next day – again, making the battle more uphill, but not impossible.

2) If I workout first thing in the morning, do I need to eat something before?

Probably not. Unless you are training for more than 90-120 minutes, your last meal of the day yesterday is probably enough fuel to get you through.

So people can tolerate a little snack before, some can’t.

But if you are working out at 5 AM, and want time to digest your snack, so you get up at 3:30 AM to eat, which cuts into your sleep…yeah, no – just get the extra sleep, and have a little water and maybe some electrolytes during your training session.

Sacrificing sleep to eat a piece of toast because you think you NEED it for a 45-minute moderate training session is a bad idea.

3) Do I need to eat within a certain time of ending my workout?

Yes, if you are training hard.

The “anabolic window” used to be 30 minutes after a workout. You had to sprint to your car and slam a protein shake before all your gains went away. It’s not that crazy anymore.

However, if you are training hard – pushing some heavy weights, breaking down a lot of muscle, or doing sprint work – you will want to spark the recovery process ASAP, and this window is more like 2 hours. So, no need to rush, but get something in your body soon-ish.

What should you eat? – some carbs and protein. It used to be thought that the carbs were needed to help shuttle the amino acids from protein into your muscles – but actually, the carbs help mitigate the cortisol spike that you get from hard training, and shift your body into recovery mode.

The protein helps start the muscle repair process which is important because this is when your muscles actually grow. How much protein? Shoot for .18g/pound post-workout. 

4) What about eating carbs only around your workouts?

This is a good strategy for some people, but not necessary. It is based on the idea that carbs are fuel for training, so you want to fuel up before and after your most active part of the day, and eat fewer carbs when you are less active.

If calories are controlled, this actually doesn’t matter.

However, if you are doing long training sessions or running a marathon, then yes, you will need some carbs to replenish your glycogen.

Some people feel charged up when eating carbs before a workout, so they are able to train harder. Some people feel sluggish if they eat carbs before a workout. You have to find what is right for YOU.

Also – for some people, this simple strategy just helps them control calories more, so it defacto works, but there is nothing magic about it.

Don’t overthink this stuff…

At the end of the day, you need to figure out what works best for your schedule, your body, and your lifestyle. Play around with timing, but keep it consistent for a week or so before making a judgment call on if it was good or bad for you.

If you need help getting started, look no further than online coaching. Training and nutrition! Let me help you find the best plan for you – from anywhere in the world.

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10 “Healthy” But HIGH Calorie Foods

“I’m eating super clean/healthy but not losing weight!”

“I’m trying to eat super clean/healthy, but can’t put on weight!”

In either case, calories still and always will matter. Whether you are trying to cut a little body fat or pack on some pounds, your caloric intake being in a deficit or surplus is key.

In most instances I observe, it is the former issue of eating “clean” but not losing fat. I’m all for eating as much unprocessed crap as possible, don’t get it twisted, BUT even the “cleanest” of the clean foods can still be calorie-dense.

Here are the Top 10 “Healthy” Foods that STILL pack a ton of calories:

1. Nuts

Almonds and walnuts are super heart-healthy – but they are also still fats, making them more calorically dense.

A golf ball size portion of nuts packs right around 150 calories.

2. Avocado 

Just like nuts, avocados are packed with heart healthy fats and fiber – but also calories.

An average size avocado has about 250 calories.

3. Olive Oil

Again, very heart-healthy – but still fat, and thus higher in calories.

1 Tablespoon of olive oil (or any oil) has 120 calories

Protip – this is why I recommend using cooking sprays, as the calories from pouring oil in a pan can add up QUICK!

4. Red Meat

Red meat gets a bad rep, but that’s because most studies lump all “meats” in with red meat – even hot dogs, brats, and crappy processed sausages. A good steak or ground beef can be part of any healthy diet – but watch out for the fattier cuts!

  • 3 oz of 80/20 beef = 230 calories
  • 3 oz of 90/10 beef = 185 calories
  • 3 oz of 95/5 beef = 146 calories

Fattier cuts of steak like ribeyes and T-Bones also add up quickly, so if your goal is fat loss, opt for leaner cuts like sirloin or top round.

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“Mike, what’s the simplest thing I can do to improve my diet and lose fat?” . . If it was only simple. However, in order to not give a lame ass cop out answer on this one, here it is: . . Cut your meal in half, and add a protein shake. . . Instantly you have cut calories, and added 20-30g of protein to your meal. That’s it. . . It’s not magic, and it might work in every situation, but this is what I would say is the simplest thing anyone can do. . . . Looking to go beyond generic recommendations and tips? 🔗 Click the link in bio and let’s chat! . . . #fatloss #protein #weightloss #fatlosshack #weightlisshack #fatlosstips #fitspo #dietitiansofinstagram #dietitian #proteinshake #simplefatloss #transformation #weight #toned #fit #fitness #health #gainz

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5. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes by themselves are amazing sources of carbs, but they are also pretty dense – and if you add butter and other caloric toppings, they can add up quickly.

A small sweet potato (2″ diameter, 5″ long) has 140 calories by itself.

6. Dried Fruit

Because it is dehydrated, dried fruit usually still packs some good fiber and vitamin content, but is also MUCH more calorie-dense than fruit.

A half-cup of raisins or other dried fruit comes in around 200-250 calories.

7. “Healthy Cereals” 

Most people know that Lucky Charms and Fruity Pebbles aren’t usually classified as “healthy” (they can BE part of a solid diet though if we measure and manage!) – but what about cereals marketed for health-conscious people?

A cup of Raisin Bran has 185 calories – and most people I know don’t eat just a cup of any cereal – and milk is usually added.

8. Cheese

Many people consider cheese to be healthy – but it’s usually higher in saturated fat, and not the best source of protein.

One slice of sandwich cheddar or a quarter cup comes in at about 130 calories.

9. Wine

Red wine is good for my heart! But it still adds calories 🙂

Most wines are loaded with about 120-140 calories – and that’s for a standard 5 oz. pour, and let’s be honest…who actually does that?

10. Smoothies

Smoothies can be packed with anything. Protein, fruits, fats, etc. Some are better than others, but I’ve seen smoothies that are loaded with more than 1000 calories. It all comes down to WHAT is in them.

This list is not meant to scare you away from any of these foods, or demonize them – but rather, bring awareness to intakes of calories, and where more calories could be “sneaking” in your diet and preventing you from losing fat.

OR – if you are trying to gain weight for health, or sport – this is a great list to focus on adding more of to your diet!

If you need help getting started, look no further than online coaching. Training and nutrition! Let me help you find the best plan for you – from anywhere in the world.

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Weight Loss =/= Fat Loss

“Lose 10 pounds in one week!” – any magazine on any shelf at any time.

Do you want to do this? Here’s how:

  • Don’t eat any carbs for a few days
  • Drink a ton of water so you are peeing all the time.
  • Walk around in a sweatsuit or plastic bags.
  • Then stop drinking water.

10-pound weight loss – EASY! But far from healthy, safe, or purposeful.

How does this work? Water follows carbs – in the storage form of glycogen in your liver and muscles. When you stop eating carbs, your body will have to pull 100% from glycogen stores, so you will burn more glycogen. Because you are drinking a TON of water, but not eating carbs, there will be less glycogen for the water to bind to, so it will flush out as much water as possible.

Add in a bunch of dehydrating sweating (more water losses), and then once glycogen is depleted, STOP drinking water but keep sweating it out to REALLY lose more water… and BOOM!

MAGIC!…and you feel like trash. Then, as soon as you eat a piece of bread and drink a glass of water you explode into a giant puffball of water retention because your body is craving it!

Sounds super healthy, doesn’t it?

If you haven’t sensed the sarcasm yet, please re-read this – and realize all we have talked about so far is how to lose a bunch of water weight. BUT THE SCALE SAYS…stop it.

Losing fat on the other hand is challenging.

Now, numbers and math don’t perfectly apply to the human body as simply as textbooks might tell you, but for a ROUGH estimate, to burn a pound of fat, yes 1 pound, you need to create a 3500 calorie deficit over the course of a week.

This doesn’t take into account many individual factors, but it’s close enough.

Thats a 500 calorie deficit per day for a whole week.

“Aw man, only 1 pound?!” 

Yes, if it’s all from body fat, that’s amazing! You see, to burn your bodies stored fat – which is stored energy – your body needs a reason to tap into those fat stores. If you are eating too much food, your body doesn’t need to tap into your stores, and if you are eating way too much, your body will store even more for later!

Using this very simplified number, to lose 2 pounds of fat per week would require a 1000 calorie deficit per day! I don’t know about you, but I like food way too much to even think about a 1000 calorie deficit.

To put this into perspective – again, calculations aren’t perfect – this means I would have to eat 2000 calories per day. That may seem like a lot to you, but realize that as of writing this I’m on maintenance at about 3050 calories. 2000 would be damn hard.

So when it comes to just looking to lose weight, remember, it’s not about just losing pounds as fast as possible, but losing BODYFAT as healthily as possible, while maintaining as much muscle as possible.

But I swear I’m eating -500 calories per day, but not losing 1 pound per week!

There can be many reasons why this is happening, but in my experience, these are the biggest reasons why you aren’t seeing the number go down…

You aren’t actually in a deficit.

Yes, you might think you are, but you’re not. Many people aren’t aware of how much they actually eat. Bites, nibbles, snackcidents (you forgot about those late-night munchies, didn’t you) all add up. Even condiments can add a couple of hundred calories a day. Enough to throw you out of a deficit.

ALL Calories matter. Period.

You are in a deficit sometimes.

5 days of strict eating followed by 2 days of “cheat meals” can put you in a weekly surplus. Whether or not you do this on purpose, many people like to let loose on the weekends, rightfully so. But calories dense delicious food can mix well with high-calorie alcoholic beverages and lead to a net surplus when the week is over.

Imagine you eat -500 for 5 days, so a net -2500…but then you spend two days eating and drinking +1250 (which isn’t hard to do) and you are at a net-zero.

You ARE losing fat, but holding water.

This can happen for many reasons – as seen here. 

And this is why we can’t always rely on the scale, and patience is a virtue.

This is also why I’m such a huge fan of tracking averages. If you want an app that does this, try Happy Scale (iOS) or Libra (Android).

In the end, we need to take a deep breath, assess that we are doing everything right, and have some patience. AND realize that the body will fight back against fat loss, and if you have been constantly trying to lose weight for an extended period of time, maybe what you actually need is to chill in maintenance for a while, push hard at the gym and focus on BUILDING your body – as this is often the MOST overlooked aspect of improving health in the general public.

If you need help getting started, look no further than online coaching. Training and nutrition! Let me help you find the best plan for you – from anywhere in the world.

For more information, click HERE!

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Time to End the Passive Acceptance of Declining Health

Getting old, weak, and frail.

Getting weak and fat.

Getting sick more constantly.

Getting older and sleeping less.

Feeling like trash after eating a huge meal.

These seem to be accepted as the “norm” by many, but why?

While we cannot stop the clock from aging us in years, we can slow down and even reverse everything that comes with it.

As we age, we get busier. We have jobs, kids, more responsibilities, etc. I get it.

But why does this all of a sudden give rise to the idea that gaining weight, getting weak, and having a lower quality of life is part of the path we are meant to walk?

I work with and have worked with, many clients in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and even 80’s who have improved their overall health by leaps and bounds.

A passive life is a life doomed for suboptimal health and the only person you can truly blame for this decline is yourself. This is the first step to righting the ship. This is not meant to shame you, this is meant to motivate you. You are to accept responsibility for getting yourself to where you are now, and thus you can get yourself out!\

Change is now, and change is good.

1) Accept that your current state, if you don’t like it, is from years of passiveness.

Maybe you got caught up in a job, raising a family, etc. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, it is just what probably happened. You let yourself go. The first step is realizing it, and deciding that today is the day to make a change.

It’s like that co-worker down the hall who has seemed to always have that persistent cough and sniffle. They have accepted that this is what they will have on a day to day basis, and maybe it doesn’t bug them anymore. Meanwhile, you just want to march down there with a box of tissues and cold medicine because they clearly aren’t doing anything to fix it.

Look at yourself from the perspective of others. What do they see?

Audit your lifestyle. Are you happy with your health? Your life? How do you feel when you get out of bed?

You don’t need a fancy gym, tons of super expensive food, or magic powders and pills to change it either – you just need to put your foot down and make a commitment – NOW.

2) Get Active

Start with walking. If you can’t walk because of injuries – get on a bike. Most people know I am a strength training junkie, but if ALL you can do is walk to start, that’s awesome. Begin strength training as soon as possible. Walking is important, sure, but strength training is the literal fountain of youth. All you need to start is your body weight. More on that in a second…

Work on increasing your cardiovascular endurance by walking even 5 minutes a day. Start SOMEWHERE. By just moving a little more each day, you will start seeing the benefits, and start the ball rolling towards reversing your self-neglect from years of no work.

Get an inexpensive pedometer like this one -> http://amzn.to/2hNpsK9 and track your steps. Aim to increase your daily average by 10% until you consistently hit 10,000+ steps per day.

To be honest, exercise and movement don’t matter as much as diet. It’s the truth that no one wants to hear.

However, it is usually the easier of the two to adopt and can lead to a snowball effect of health, eventually triggering changes in diet. So start moving more, and start thinking about some little changes you could make down the road…

3) Get Strong

Weight training is not just for people in their 20s and 30s. Like I stated earlier, I have helped many people, 50+ years old, get stronger and thus improve their quality of life and increase chances for longer independence well into their 80’s and 90’s.

Image result for summary of adaptations to aging and resistance training

Start with bodyweight work, and machines. Track your reps and weights, and try to improve in some way each week. Even one more rep, or 2 more pounds, over time can make a huge difference.

What’s the number one reason people need to move into an assisted living home or lose their independence?

Because they cannot stand up on their own. Strengthen your legs, your core, your grip, your arms, and you will be on the path to longevity instantly.

If you are totally new to strength training, have no fear – READ HERE

Once you get the movement patterns down, you need to actually challenge yourself enough and you can develop muscular strength at any age. Again, see the table above as to why this is important! Studies have shown that older adults need to lift in 70-85% of their 1RM range for strength. What does this mean?

Let’s say the MOST weight you can lift off the floor – the deadlift – is 100 pounds for 1 rep. This is you 1 rep max, or 1RM.

In order to build strength, you will need to train with at least 70 pounds on your deadlift for multiple repetitions. This should be a somewhat challenging weight, that only allows you to get 3-5 reps per set, the golden standard range for strength training.

*Depending on age, mobility, and skills, there are MANY ways to train the deadlift movement pattern, so don’t think that you HAVE to be able to pull a barbell from the floor – find yourself a great coach that will work with you!

This isn’t the ONLY weight range you should and can lift in, as science has shown that even at 50% of 1RM the body will experience changes in muscle function – aka – good things happen.

The key is that you are lifting a weight that challenges you for the appropriate amount of repetitions.

3) Eat “like a grown up”.

This is preached by world-renowned strength coach, Dan John. Eat like a grown up.

Lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, high fiber carbs, and healthy fats – these should be the staples of your diet.

Drink mostly water only.

Cut the fast-food, skip the sugary foods, and lay off the booze a little – and you will instantly find your health, immune function, sleep cycle, and life improving.

Start with one meal at a time or even one side dish at a time. Swap out french fries for veggies, or pop tarts for eggs. Small changes make for big results.

We really don’t need to overcomplicate nutrition and what to eat and what not to eat – I think most people know this. The more important thing to focus on is WHY we eat it. It’s easy, cheap, fast, and pleasurable – sounds like the world’s oldest profession – not something most people want to associate with.

Create your environment to support your goals. Don’t bring crap food into the house, and crap food will less likely be consumed. Mind-blowing stuff! Look at what your current portion size of foods is as well. If you need to lose weight, the most simple place to start is literally just to eat 10% less at each meal. Don’t change another thing.

Just plate your food as you normally would, and then remove 10% of it. Seriously. Try it.

We need to stop living passively in our lives. We are where we are right now because of ourselves, no one else.

And in the end – it’s not even always about us. To be there, actively,  for our spouses, kids, grandkids, but most importantly – ourselves – is the best investment one can make for the future.

If you need help getting started, look no further than online coaching. Training and nutrition! Let me help you find the best plan for you – from anywhere in the world.

For more information, click HERE!

Like what you read? Want to get even more weekly wisdom, training tips, and nutrition nuggets along with up to date blog posts sent directly to your email? Sign up HERE!

 

 

5 Proven Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat Healthier

As new parents, there are many challenges that come with raising kids that unfortunately there is no user manual for, and it seems like endless ideas via the interwebs – millennial problems. Getting your children to eat healthy foods is one of those challenges.

Now, I’ve only been a parent for 2.5 years, so I’m not claiming to be a practicing expert in this topic, but we have used a few techniques with our daughter that I have learned through my years of formal education and continuing education that seem to have worked pretty well so far.

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