I’m a Registered Dietitian…and I Don’t Love Vegetables

I Don’t Love Vegetables. 

True statement.

Sort of.

If you offered me a choice between what I would rather have:

  • Meat or Vegetables
  • Starchy carbs or vegetables
  • Fruit or vegetables
  • Dessert or vegetables

I would choose option A every time.

But – I eat them – and most of the time I do enjoy them, but not more than the other parts of the meal.

When most people, myself included, think of vegetables, we think of boring, plain, raw, steamed, or boiled vegetables. Not very enticing – but still getting them in.

But, when prepared in a slightly different way, or with some extra seasonings or flavors added – they aren’t that bad, and actually enjoyable.

Roasting, air frying, or grilling are my go-to options. Add in some fresh garlic, lemon juice, or a little seasoning blend and they can be game-changing.

The texture is an often forgotten component of food. It can make food much more enjoyable when there are contrasting textures within a meal. Instead of having mushy steamed vegetables, try a roasting method to make them crisp!

We KNOW what we need to do…

When it comes to nutrition, fitness, and health – we KNOW what we need to be doing, eating, not eating, and not doing to optimize our health. The disconnect comes from actually taking action and doing it, especially if it isn’t the most enjoyable.

Take traditional cardio for example.

I know that having cardiovascular health is important. I know that cardio is great for heart health, conditioning, and even muscle recovery.

But there are endless things I would rather do than jog on a treadmill, sit on a stationary bike, or plant my butt on a rowing machine.

So I make it more enjoyable and incorporate different forms of cardio in my training or add something that I want to do to my cardio (what I need to do).

If I am going to listen to a podcast or a new album release, I will do it during one of my recovery walks. 30 or 45 minutes of walking go by extra fast when listening to something enjoyable AND if done outside in nature.

If I don’t have a podcast to listen to, I will do more of a conditioning circuit workout for 20-30 minutes. Pick a couple of exercises that get the heart rate going, and repeat for a metabolic circuit. These can be things like dumbbell, kettlebell, or barbell complexes.

Or I will do strongman type workouts that involve pushing sleds, pulling sleds, carrying heavy things, and slamming ropes, medballs, or sledgehammers.

This is what we all must learn to do. It’s easy to sit around and tell people what they should be doing in the short term, to gain benefits in the long term…but many people still don’t actually do it!

Instead, we need to find strategic ways to take what we KNOW we should be doing, find a way to spice it up, and DO IT.

The human body is meant to thrive off of whole, nutritious foods.

The human body is meant to be active and strong.

We all only get one body – so you better find a way to make the most of it.

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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You Don’t Lose Fat in the Gym

Yep. Here is a trainer, someone who puts food on the table by helping people work out at the gym. Have I lost my mind?

What’s more important for fat loss?

Nutrition. 100% of the time. It’s not that exercise doesn’t matter at all, but exercise is the simple part. Nutrition is 100% responsible for making and maintaining results.

What Is the Gym For?

Will you burn some calories at the gym? Of course! You are burning calories right now. But here’s the deal, in a 1 hour super intense workout session, you are maybe burning 300-500 calories MAX. I don’t care what your watch says – it’s built on lies.

So can we please stop focussing on the calorie burn at the gym?

Or stop caring only about how sore, tired, or sweaty we are after a workout?

The truth is, you aren’t actually losing any fat during a workout. All losses during a training session are glycogen and water. Step on the scale after a workout and who knows if your weight will be up (water intake, cellular swelling) or down (water losses). So why care?

And this is just fine because we shouldn’t be focused on our workouts as fat-burning sessions anyway – it’s everything OUTSIDE of the workout that causes the magic to happen.

Focus on having fun, challenging yourself (wisely), and building strength, physical and mental health, mobility, and all that other awesome stuff that makes you harder to kill.

Bodyfat – what is it?

From Wikipedia:

Body fat or adipose tissue’s main role is to store energy in the form of lipids, although it also cushions and insulates the body. Far from being hormonally inert, adipose tissue has, in recent years, been recognized as a major endocrine organ, as it produces hormones such as leptin, estrogen, resistin, and the cytokine TNFα. 

When it comes to burning away fat, we are concerned about the lipids, or the actual fat cells which we want to “burn away.”

First, let’s look at the hormones that our fat cells produce, and why it makes carrying extra body fat even more harmful and stressful on our body.

Fat’s Hormone Production

Leptin tells us that we are full – so the more fat we have, the more leptin we are producing to TELL our brain that we are full. Obviously, we choose to ignore these signals.

Estrogen, the female sex hormone, is found in higher levels in more obese people, men and women alike. Not good for our manly men…

Resistin increases the amount of LDL, thus increasing the risk for heart disease and heart attack by accelerating the LDL accumulation in our arteries.

Lastly, Cytokine TNF (tumor necrosis factor) is a pro-inflammatory that helps prevent tumor growth (good!) but does it by increasing fever, inflammation, and overall body stress (not good).

All around, the more of these hormones we have in our body, the worse off we are.

Back to Lipids

Lipids are made up of Carbon, Oxygen, and Hydrogen.

When our fat is oxidized (burned) – how do we actually lose it??

These compounds are broken down in our cells and turned into CO2 and H2O.

We breathe out CO2 and we pee out H2O – and this is how we actually lose fat.

But what really causes this fat oxidation? If not working out, then what is it?

How to burn fat.

Training stimulates muscle damage and uses up glycogen during training.

When we finish training, our muscles are damaged and our body begins the repair process. Cell signaling happens, and our body increases responses to repair the muscle thus increasing metabolism, and yes, drawing on fat cells for SOME energy. BUT – even this isn’t that much!

The largest chunk of fat burning is happening right now. As you read this your metabolism is working. Always doing things inside your body, you are burning calories right now, and 24/7.

Fatty acid oxidation is an important process of our metabolism, and it is slightly increased after training, and especially when we sleep (why sleep is so important) – as this is when our bodies are trying to repair and rebuild everything that we broke down at the gym.

Our basal metabolic rate is the largest contributor to our calorie burn, and it always will be. 

Stop focussing on the calorie burn of workouts, start focussing on the quality of your workouts – did you improve? Did you get faster? Stronger? (or was it a recovery workout?) – this is what training is for.

When you start focussing on “gaining” in the gym, you will start losing outside of the gym.

Nothing fancy – crush weights in the gym, find a caloric deficit through diet, listen to the hormones that tell you that you are full, and go to bed a little hungry every night, have some patience and I promise you will start losing some fat. It’s not easy, but it’s actually quite simple.

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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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.

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.

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 Common Sense (But Often Ignored) Ways to Reduce Your Calories

Before you seek out the latest fad diet, supplement, or 21-Day-Cleanse program (for the 5th time this year), consider that the answers that might be right in front of you. The solution to your problem may not be “try something new” – it might be “pay attention to your current self”.

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3 Reasons Why Your 1200 Calories is Really 2400

“I’m trying to eat 1200 calories a day, and I still can’t lose weight!” Raise your hand if you have heard this, said this, or read this before. We all have. Somewhere, someone came up with 1200 as the magic number to lose weight – especially for women!

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Hey Friend, Long Time No Talk…

This is usually how these conversations start. Before you know it, your long lost “friend” is inviting you to a new 30-day challenge that also requires you to buy hundreds of dollars worth of supplements. Are MLM supplements healthy, necessary, and good quality? And do they really work? Let’s dive in…

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Your Ultimate Guide to a Healthy Vacation

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Put an End to Your Food Sensitivities – FOR GOOD!

It was a Friday afternoon. I had just finished up early at the hospital and I was headed back to Madison for a weekend. I ate some leftover cheese ravioli and slammed a big glass of milk as I rushed out the door to the weekend that awaited.

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When Diet and Exercise are NOT Enough

I exercise, and I eat well – yet I still DON’T SEE RESULTS!

First question – what results are you after?

Second: Do they align with what you are doing?

Third: Do they align with what you do 24/7/365?

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