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!

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!

 

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!

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!

 

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 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

Vacation. It’s supposed to be a time to relax, enjoy, and unwind. But to some people, the thought of being in a new environment, off their routine, and surrounded by epic foods and drinks can bring upon the stress of losing gains, and gaining pounds. Continue reading

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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