The Truth About Core Training

The Truth About Core Training

What if we told you everything you know about core exercises is wrong?  Straining your neck and back doing hundreds of sit-ups, trying to get a “shredded six-pack,” is a complete waste of your time. Sure, you may feel “the burn” in your abs for two to three days after your workout, but that won’t compare to the burn you will feel in your back five years later from bad posture, due to those high repetition ab routines you used to do.

It is time we challenge the status quo when it comes to fitness and performance. I challenge you to be inquisitive and question the fitness content you consume in magazines, articles, blogs, social media, personal trainers, and performance coaches.

There are a lot of great well-educated fitness professionals out there, but the reality is, the fitness, strength, and conditioning industries are becoming over-saturated. A simple test must be taken in order to receive a personal training certification, but should that be enough to be considered a professional?

Technology and the advancement of social media have made it easier for people to share their thoughts, experiences, and opinions with a wider audience. This can be great in some cases, however, when individuals are given misinformation on effective exercise prescription, it can have a snowball effect on your health and wellness. This could potentially lead to muscle imbalance, joint pain, dysfunctions, and ultimately chronic injury or illness.

After reading this, you will have a clear understanding of what your “core” actually is and its purpose. You will also have information on effects your core strength has on your everyday life and insight on why you should change the way you train your core. You will also be given our top five functional core exercises.

What Exactly is Your “Core”?

Your core is a complex series of muscles, extending far beyond your abs, including everything besides your arms and legs. It is incorporated in almost every movement of the human body. Your core is comprised of the following muscle groups:

Pelvic floor muscles, Tansversus abdominis, Multifidus, Internal and external obliques, Rectus abdominis, Erector spinae (sacrospinalis), Erector spinae (sacrospinalis), Longissimus thoracis, Diaphragm, Latissimus dorsi, Gluteus maximus, Trapezius, Gluteus medius, Psoas major, and Serratus anterior.

Train your core the right way to prevent bad posture and other dysfunctions. The true purpose of your core is to stabilize your joints, which prevents unwanted movement and transfer of energy forces from your extremities.

Your core most often acts as a stabilizer and force transfer center rather than a primary mover. We often isolate our core with exercises like crunches or back extensions versus functional movements like deadlifts, overhead squats, and pushups, among many other functional exercises.

By training your core the right way, you can optimize the major function of your core. You will also enhance movement efficiency, strength in your muscles, and joints. Strengthening your core will help your tendons to prevent injury and future pain, which will aid long-term health.

How Strengthening Your Core Will Impact Your…

Everyday Life

A strong core enhances balance, stability, and energy transfer. Thus, it can help prevent injuries during day-to-day activities and sports injuries. Core strength directly correlates to exercise and sport activities like walking, jogging, sprinting, throwing, squatting, jumping, and swinging motions. The stronger your core is, the more efficient you will be at these activities. Through strengthening your core, you will see an increase in your performance as well as minimize your risk for injuries.  

Everyday Activities

Bending to put on shoes or scoop up a package, turning to look behind you, sitting in a chair, or simply standing still. These are just a few of the many mundane actions that rely on your core and that you might not notice until they become difficult or painful. Even basic activities of daily living bathing or dressing, for example call on your core.

Work Place

Jobs that involve lifting, twisting, and standing all rely on core muscles. But less obvious tasks like sitting at your desk for hours engage your core as well. Phone calls, typing, computer use, and similar work can make back muscles stiff and sore, particularly if you’re not strong enough to practice good posture and aren’t taking sufficient breaks to stand and go for a walk.

Sports and Other Activities

Sports comprise of a series of explosive complex movements that require a lot of core strength and satiability. Think of sports like golfing, tennis, baseball, and softball. The rotational nature of these sports causes the spine to twist and coil up just to be rapidly released in the opposite direction. Without good foundational core strength, these movements can cause serious harm to your body.

Other sports like basketball, football, hockey, lacrosse, and soccer require speed, agility, coordination, strength, and balance. All this qualities are built on and enhanced by having a solid core. Even recreational sports like running, swimming, kayaking, rowing, skiing, and snowboarding heavily rely on your core.  So, it is important to consider training your core when participating in these hobbies we love.

Good Posture

Good posture decreases wear and tear on your spine and allows you to breathe deeply. Good posture also allows you to perform everyday task easily and more efficiently saving you time and energy.

Weak, tight, or unbalanced core muscles can undermine you in any of these realms. And while it’s important to build a strong core, it’s unwise to aim all your efforts at developing rippling abs.

Overtraining abdominal muscles while snubbing muscles of the back and hip can set you up for injuries and cut athletic prowess. If washboard abs are your holy grail, it’s essential to trim body fat through diet and aerobic exercise and build strong abdominal muscles through frequent core exercise sessions.

Why You Should Change the Way You Train Your Core

When you think of a core exercise, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Sit ups or crunches, right?  These exercises are very popular because they give you that burning tightening feeling in your abdominal which is the problem area for a lot of us.

Lets dig deeper. The abdominal muscles play a key role in protecting the inner organs. They also assist in respiration breathing and work together with back muscles to stabilize the spine for good posture.

When performing a sit up or crunch you’re engaging your rectus abdominus (abs). But, you are also using other muscles groups that assist in hip flexion sush as the iliopsoas, tensor fasciae latae, rectus femoris, and Sartorius.

The Problem

Over exerting your hip flexors during a sit up or crunch is a common error due to lack of engagement of your abs. Overtime you will develop a shortened tight, hip flexors which pulls your torso forward when standing. This puts excessive strain on your lower back. Individuals, who sit for long periods of time daily, are also at risk of developing tight hip flexors.

According to the American Medical Association we sit on average 7.7 hours a day! The long-term effect this has is, bad posture, movement dysfunction, pain, chronic injuries, and high medical bills from physical therapist and doctor visits.

When performing a sit up or crunch you’re engaging your rectus abdominus (abs). But, you are also using other muscles groups that assist in hip flexion sush as the iliopsoas, tensor fasciae latae, rectus femoris, and Sartorius.

Top Five Core Exercises

Choosing the right core exercise can be overwhelming. To simplify, we have provided you with 5 functional exercises to strengthen your core to improve your performance and long-term health.

3-Way Plank: Pron Plank

    1. Get into a prone position on the floor, supporting your weight on your toes and your forearms. Your arms are bent and directly below the shoulder.
    1. Keep shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle in alignment.
    1. Squeeze your abdominals and glutes to engage your core
  1. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and increase by 5 to 10 seconds each workout

3-Way Plank: Side plank

  1. Start by lying on your side with your elbow under your shoulder.
  2. Keep shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle in alignment.
  3. Squeeze abdominals and glutes to engage your core
  4. Repeat on other side and hold for 15 to 20 seconds and increase by 5 to 10 seconds each workout.

Medicine Ball Dead Bug

    1. Begin lying on your back with one hand extended above you toward the ceiling and the other pinning the medicine ball against your opposite knee.
    1. Bring your feet, knees, and hips up to 90 degrees.
    1. Exhale hard to bring your ribcage down and flatten your back onto the floor, rotating your pelvis up and squeezing your glutes. Hold this position throughout the movement. This will be your starting position.
    1. Initiate the exercise by extending your free leg and arm, straightening the knee and hip to bring the leg and arm just above the ground.
    1. Maintain the position of your lumbar and pelvis as you perform the movement, as your back is going to want to arch.
    1. Fully Stay tight and return the working leg and arm to the starting position.
  1. Repeat on the opposite side.

Alternating Glute March

    1. Start by lying on your back with your hands at your side.
    1. Bend knees to approximately 90 degrees with feet flat on the floor.
    1. Initiate the movement by driving your heels in to the ground and fully extending your hips in the air by squeezing your glutes.
  1. Pause briefly at the top then lower hips back down to the ground and repeat.

Superman

    1. To begin, lie straight and face down on the floor or exercise mat. Your arms should be fully extended in front of you. This is the starting position.
    1. Simultaneously raise your arms, legs, and chest off of the floor and hold this contraction for 2 seconds. Tip: Squeeze your lower back to get the best results from this exercise. Remember to exhale during this movement. Note: When holding the contracted position, you should look like superman when he is flying.
    1. Slowly begin to lower your arms, legs and chest back down to the starting position while inhaling.
  1. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions prescribed in your program.

Half Kneeling Wood Chop

  1. 1. Attach a rope or pulley handles to the high cable pulley
  2. Begin in a half kneeling position with your side to the machine, your inside knee down, and outside foot on the floor with your leg at 90 degrees
  3. Holding the rope handle with your inside hand palm up and your outside hand palm down. In one fluid motion turn hips and shoulders away from the machine, pull the handle down towards apposite hip while keeping arms relatively straight.
  4. Rotate shoulders away from the machine and then towards it with each repetition. Prevent unwanted movement other than the rotation of the shoulders and bring arms down towards hip.
  5. At the end of each repetition, your chest should be up, your shoulder blades should be back, and your stomach should be tight.

Congratulations on taking the first step to learn how to train your core properly to enhance your performance and long term quality of life.  I challenge you to put this information into action and implement these exercises into your daily workout routine to strengthen your core the right way! We assure you with time and constant effort you will see and feel a difference in your core strength.

I would love to help you further develop your core strength with online personal training. Get handcraft personalized exercise programs tailored to your needs so you can accomplish your goals faster! If this sounds like a good fit for you lets connect so I can learn more about your personal goals to set you up for success! There is no better time than now, get started today!


Mobility vs. Flexibility: Which is Better?

Mobility vs. Flexibility: Which is Better?

Mobility is not synonymous with flexibility. People use the terms flexibility and mobility interchangeable, but recently fitness professionals have made a push to separate the two concepts.

Most people know that stretching is good for you for multiple reasons, this is usually based on how they feel after stretching. The reason why you may stretch is to relieve stiffness or tightness. What most people don’t understand is there are multiple factors that may contribute to tightness. There are also many ways to address tightness. Generally enhancing your mobility and or flexibility will help you move properly without restriction or pain. Your probably wondering, whats the difference between mobility and flexibility? These two terms seem to be used interchangeably, yet actually have different meanings. Let’s distinguish the difference between the two.

What is Mobility?

Mobility is our ability to take our body through a range of motion, before being restricted, with control. Mobility is having strength within your flexibility.

Mobility is needed to perform everyday activities and it’s especially important when working out or participating in sports. Our ability to move without restriction or pain means that we can comfortably perform daily activities and strength train. If your body isn’t moving through its natural movement patterns, you’re at risk of injury. If you think about your shoulder joint, which is shaped like a ball-and-socket, it’s designed to move in all directions. If your shoulder can move like it should, the joint is healthy and mobile. If you have restricted movement in one direction or another, like you can’t raise your arm next to your ear, then you a lack shoulder mobility. This increase your risk of pain and injury, especially when loaded.

What is Flexibility?

Flexibility refers to soft tissues (muscles and tendons) ability to temporality elongate. Our connective tissues are like finger traps; the amount of material doesn’t actually change, you can’t lengthen it, but you can contract it. Flexibility is passive. It’s your ability to move connective tissue with the help of a another person or tool, while their muscles passively allow the movement to happen. Flexibility means the soft tissues are stretchy and elastic.

Think of a rubber band. If you pull both ends, and it stretches like any good rubber band should, it’s flexible. If it doesn’t stretch, it’s inflexible. It’s the same thing with muscles, which actually have elastic components designed to help the muscle stretch.

Flexibility is important because when your body is restricted by inflexibility and you can’t move through your natural range of motion, pain can occur. Lack of flexibility can make all activities more difficult.

What’s the Difference?

The biggest difference between mobility and flexibility is that in order to move a joint through its range of motion with control (mobility), you need strength.Which is why mobility is a better indication of how well and efficiently we move. Flexibility is one part of mobility. But strength, coordination, and body awareness are also elements of mobility. Flexibility is a component of mobility, extreme flexibility usually isn’t necessary to perform most exercises or activities. That means that mobility can be limited by flexibility, but super-flexibility is not necessary for most people or strength athletes.

Someone with great mobility may be able to squat below parallel while maintaining joint integrity and posture with no restrictions of range of motion. A flexible person may be able to break parallel, but they lack the ability to maintain joint integrity and posture because they may not have the strength, core strength, balance, or coordination to perform the same motion.  Someone with poor mobility may be able to complete a partial rep with decent posture but does not have the range of motion necessary to break parallel. There are a number of possible muscle imbalances that can cause lack of mobility and flexibility,  but these problems can be fixed with a combination of soft-tissue work (foam rolling/massage), stretch, and strengthen.

Both mobility and flexibility are important. You need your muscles to have the strength to support your movements, and elasticity which allows you to move without restriction. Luckily, you can work on improving flexibility and mobility.

Here’s why you should be doing flexibility and mobility exercises.

  1. Eliminate joint pain or injury
  2. Perform movements with great range of motion
  3. Increase muscle recruitment
  4. Burn more calories
  5. Move with freedom
  6. Perform wider range of movements
  7. Prolong quality of life
  8. Increase strength
  9. Increase stability
  10. Increase speed/power
  11. Enhanced joint health

How to Increase Your Mobility and Flexibility?

To enhance your flexibility and mobility, start with areas that you are really tight or areas affected by bad posture. This may include the neck, mid/low back, hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, and calf muscles.

3 methods to increase mobility: 

  1. Foam Rolling: foam rolling is essentially a self-massage technique to help you release trigger points or “knots” in your muscles.
  2. Mobility Drills: These are exercises that are specifically geared towards training your range of motion around joints.
  3. Stretch: This isn’t always necessary, especially if you’re a naturally bendy person stretching can make your joints more vulnerable to injury than if you just left it out. But if you’ve always been fairly stiff, and it’s stopping you from performing exercises correctly, you may benefit from a few short stretches as part of your warm up, and longer stretches for after your workout.

Now that you know everything you need to know about mobility vs flexibility, here is a short routine that you can do daily to enhance your flexibility and mobility for better workouts, enhanced performance, and overall health/quality of life.

 


Periodization: The Key to an Effective Workout Program

Periodization: The Key to an Effective Workout Program

Have you ever experienced stagnation or boredom with your workout routine? Have you hit a plateau where no matter what you do, you just feel like you’re not making progress? Have you experienced long term exhaustion physically, mentally, or even sickness? These are all symptoms of a manotineous workout program  that is not well planned or a program that you have stuck to for too long. With strategic periodization, you can avoid training plateaus and overtraining. Here’s how to break free and take your training and your results to the next level.

What is periodization?

Strength and conditioning programs cause an alarm phase that provokes our bodies to respond to external stimulus (strength training or cardiovascular training). Our bodies responds by adapting the stimulus so the next time it encounters the same stressor, we will be able to better deal with the stress. This is referred to as general adaptation syndrome (GAS). Homeostasis is our bodies baseline or equilibrium, so anytime we encounter a stress whether physical or psychological we experience a physiological adaptation. This is why it is important to constantly adjust variables of stress (workout routine) through periodization.

To promote long term training and performance improvements, a good training program should include preplanned, systematic variations in training specificity, intensity, volume, and load organized in periods or cycles within the overall program. This allows you to optimize adaptations made from training either from strength training or cardiovascular training.

Periodization for Strength

So, you have to disrupt homeostasis with a progressive overload to cause the body to adapt.  Here are three key training parameters that will drive gains in strength and muscle. 

  1. Mechanical tension: external forces put on the muscles by the weights, resulting in muscle contraction. Lifting a heavy load in big compound exercises (squats, chins, rows, bench presses etc.).
  2. Metabolic stress: the accumulation of metabolic byproducts, referred to as metabolites (e.g., lactate, hydrogen ions, and inorganic phosphate) during and following resistance exercise, which indirectly mediate cell and muscle swelling. Using higher rep sets with shorter rest periods and intensification techniques such as, drop sets, supersets, rest pause and occlusion training.
  3. Muscle damage: referring to micro tears accrued from deliberately lifting weights, usually accompanied by DOMS. Exercises which place a big stretch on the muscle like Romanian Deadlifts, are great at achieving this. Eccentric overload training is also excellent. So, using a weight heavier than you can lift and just doing the lowering phase (you will need a spotter for this). 

Periodization for Cardio

You should also periodize your cardiovascular training for the same reasons—to further challenge your body while still allowing for adequate recovery time.

If, for example, you’re a recreational runner, running for fitness, fun and the occasional short race, you’ll want to allow for flat, easy runs, as well as some that incorporate hills and others that focus on speed and strength.

What you don’t want to do is complete the same run every time. If you run too easily, and don’t push yourself, you won’t progress. And chances are you’ll get bored. Conversely, too much speed or high-intensity training will lead to injury or burnout, and most likely, disappointing race results.

Training Variables to Consider

Here are 5 key variables to consider that will impact your workouts. Now that you know the importance of altering your training program, here is how periodization manipulates these variables. A change in your program doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change all of the exercises, sets, reps, and weight periodically. In some instances, that may be the case, but a change in your program can be as subtle as increasing or decreasing the volume. Or maybe you increase the weight in your strength training routine. Maybe, you increase the weight and decrease the volume respectively. There are many ways that you can alter a program, the most important thing is that your program is adjusted periodically with the end goal in mind so that you get results.

Here are 5 key training variables:

Volume: The number of repetitions per set, or the number of sets of each exercise 

Load: The amount of resistance used and cumulative effective of stress from your workout physically and psychologically.

Frequency:  How many days a week you train a muscle group, movement pattern, or energy system.

Intensity: Rest period between sets or bouts,  exercise type, order of the exercises, types of exercises, weight used for the exercise, and speed at which you complete each exercise.

Specificity: exercise selection that is specific or non specific to your goals

How Frequently should you switch up workouts?

Macrocycle: Traditional periodization models divide the overall program into specific time periods. The largest division is a macrocycle, typically (6-12 months)

Mesocycle: Within macrocycle are two or more mesocycles, each lasting several weeks to several months. The number depends on goal and peak time periods. (2 weeks – 6 months)

Microcycle: Each mesocycle is divided into two or more microcycles that are typically one week long but could last for up to four weeks, depending on the program. This short cycle focuses on daily and weekly training variations. (1-4 weeks)

With this in mind. It is recommended that you adjust your training program at least every 4 weeks to avoid plateaus and negative effects of overtraining.

Types of Periodization

Here are 3 types of periodization methods.

Linear: Most frequently used. Best for beginners. training plan that gradually increases volume, intensity, and work by mesocycles in an annual plan. Progressive overload is a major key to success here.

Non-Liner/Undulated: Relies on constant change in stimuli throughout training cycles. As opposed to a linear periodization that focuses on gradual increase of one variable, this style manipulates multiple variables like exercises, volume, intensity, and training adaptation on a frequent basis. The time frame for these manipulations can be daily, weekly, or even bi-weekly. Non-linear periodization is more advanced than linear and incorporates multiple types of stimuli into a training program.

Block Periodization: Block periodization is arguably the “newest” periodization style. The concept of block periodization focuses on breaking down specific training periods into 2-4 week periods. Each block encompasses three different stages: accumulation (50-75% intensity), transmutation (75-90% intensity), and realization (90%> intensity). The goal behind these smaller, specific blocks is to allow an athlete to stay at their peak level longer.

Periodized training will ensure that you continue to make measurable progress, which will keep you energized and interested in reaching your goals

As you incorporate periodization into your fitness program, keep in mind your body will need adequate rest as well. It’s important to track your workouts and record sets, reps along with the amount of resistance you used. This long-term plan will allow you to stay focused on different goals throughout the year and will support continued and measurable progress.

 


Surviving Fall Festivities: Healthy Style

Surviving Fall Festivities: Healthy Style 

‘Tis the season of wine, cider beer, caramel with apples, and pumpkin spice flavored everything.  So, how do you stay on track with your fitness goals when it’s this wonderful time of the year?

First, a lot of us may be thinking “why worry so much about what I eat this time of the year, it’s going to be winter and I won’t be showing as much skin.”  Here’s the deal—fitness and health are all about a lifestyle.  Summer bodies are made year-round.  You can’t expect to put in a few months of work before Spring Break and get lasting results.  So, with that in mind, here’s a few ways to stay on track this Fall season.

  1. Find Alternatives.  If you enjoy pumpkin flavored everything, invest in some sugar free Pumpkin Spice syrup and go crazy: coffee, protein shakes, etc.  Here’s a Pumpkin Caramel flavor from Amazon: Click Here to Shop.  Do you have a sweet tooth? Instead of candy, go for fruit instead.  Instead of a cookie, check out our German Chocolate Cake Power Ball Recipe (listed below).  These are super easy to grab and go!
  2. Don’t go to Parties Hungry:  This is a good rule to follow in general, no matter the season.

 

German Chocolate Cake Power Balls

Ingredients

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

5 Scoops 1st Phorm Level-1 Protein, German Chocolate Cake Flavor (get Here)

1 cup extra-crunchy peanut butter (or smooth, your choice)

1/2 cup raw honey

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

2 tablespoons flax seed

Water

Directions

  1. In a food processor, pulse the oats, Level-1 Protein, peanut butter, honey, chocolate chips, sunflower seeds and flax seeds until fully combined. Add water as needed to ensure Protein is mixed/power balls are the right consistency.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Form balls from the mixture (about 1 1/2 tablespoons each) and place them on the baking sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

 


3 Tips to Be Consistent with Your Workout Routine

3 Tips to Be Consistent with Your Workout Routine

Studies have shown that at least 50% of the people who start a fitness program do not make it through the first three months, many more will discontinue the program before the end of twelve months. A large number of people never exercise, or have ever joined an exercise program, despite the fact that regular exercise and physical activity is necessary for health–both physical and emotional.

So, what makes people stay with an exercise program?

Studies have indicated that there are psychological variables relevant for someone to stay with an exercise program. The main variables include the following:

1. Take Responsibility

The ability, to take responsibility for what happens in your life. If you are not satisfied with your current health and fitness, think  of how you got to that point. Did you stop exercising after high school or college? Decreased your fitness when you started family? Never tracked or cared about your diet? Never learned how to exercise and you don’t know where to start? Should you do cardio, strength or both?

If you can eliminate blame, you can eliminate excuses. If the blame or excuse plays repeatedly in your mind, you are shifting responsibility for your decisions to others. When starting an exercise program, do it for your own health benefit and you will be more likely to succeed.

2. Have a Clear Goal in Mind

Sport and exercise can be essential to health and adherence. When most of us train without a goal or purpose in mind, exercise becomes very monotonous and mundane. If you like to do cardio for exercise, I encourage you to sign up for a 5k, triathlon, or marathon with a specific goal time in mind to stimulate your drive.

If you like to lift or do HIIT training, I encourage you to join a lifting or CrossFit competition. It sounds scary from the outside looking in, but they do a very good job of scaling for all levels. The anticipation and slight anxiety about sporadically signing up for a competition should be enough to spark your inner athlete and help you stay committed to your health for many, many years.
At the very least, track the time and distance of your runs, biking, swimming, weight lifted during a workout, time to complete a HIIT workout, etc. This way you can create a competition against your future self, and you are able to further specify your workouts.

3. Know Your Abilities and Fitness Level

Knowing your fitness level is all about the perception you have of your exercise ability. It is important to build a good exercise base when starting an exercise regimen. For example, if someone wants to start exercising after a hiatus, they should not start on an intense exercise program that they have seen online. This creates a high risk of “falling off the bandwagon” and stopping altogether. A sedentary person getting into exercise has a much high risk of injury, which also deters adherence to a program. Don’t be afraid of reaching out to a coach or trainer that can help you start at your individual fitness level. A good coach will help you build a foundation, making exercise attainable for your individual needs within a timeframe suitable to you.

Your exercise needs may change based on whether you work out in the morning or evening if you can workout 2, 3, or 5 times a week, and what type of exercise you enjoy doing. If you have struggled with being consistent with your workout routines, I suggest working with a trainer to get on track and stay accountable so you can reach your goals and have better health and fitness. There are several options out there to work with a trainer that will help you stay consistent. You can work with a trainer at your local gym, or online personal training which is a convenient and cost effective way to work with a trainer virtually. No matter what you choose to do, keep in mind that consistency is the key to getting results. So remember, take responsibility for your fitness, set goals, and know your abilities.


How Improving Your Sleep Quality Can Significantly Improve Your Health and Fat Loss

How Improving Your Sleep Quality Can Significantly Improve Your Health and Fat Loss

 

When you think of ways to improve your health, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Exercise? Diet? Sleep isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind but it has a significant impact on your health. The fact of the matter is that sleep may be more important than both diet and exercise when it comes to general health and fat loss. The average adult in America gets 6-7 hours of sleep per day, which is less than the recommended amount suggested by the National Sleep Foundation. Sleep debt and sleep deprivation have a significant impact on your biochemistry affecting your hormones, brain waves, and nervous system which can alter your metabolism creating an environment that allows your body to store more fat than normal. The good news is that there are a few simple steps you can take to enhance your sleep quality so you can feel more rejuvenated, energized, and even burn more fat.

 

What is sleep deprivation and how does it affect your body?

Sleep deprivation occurs when an individual gets less sleep than they need to feel awake and alert. People vary in how little sleep is needed to be considered sleep-deprived. Some people such as older adults seem to be more resistant to the effects of sleep deprivation, while others, especially children and young adults, are more vulnerable. Stimulants like coffee and energy drinks, alarm clocks, and external lights—including those from electronic devices—interfere with our “circadian rhythm”or natural sleep/wake cycle.

Body functions affected by sleep deprivation:

  • Immune function
  • Heightened risk of respiratory disease
  • Body weight and body fat
  • Higher risk of diabetes
  • Blood pressure
  • Blood sugar
  • Inflammation
  • Hormone production

 

Hormone response from sleep deprivation

Endocrine System: Your HPA axis and thyroid are known to regulate our body’s ability to burn fat. Your diet and exercise does not impact your ability to burn fat as much as sleep does. Your ability to burn fat and store fat is regulated by your endocrine system and your hormone function.

Thyroid: The thyroid acts on the body to increase the basal metabolic rate, affect protein synthesis, and increase the body’s sensitivity to catecholamines (such as adrenaline) by permissiveness. The thyroid hormones are essential to proper development and differentiation of all cells of the human body. These hormones also regulate protein, fat, and carbohydrate metabolism, affecting how human cells use energetic compounds.

Sleep deprivation slows the function of the thyroid and its ability to metabolize protein, fat, and carbs.

Leptin: The hormone leptin is intricately involved in the regulation of appetite, metabolism and calorie burning. Leptin is the chemical that tells your brain when you’re full, when it should start burning up calories and, by extension, when it should create energy for your body to use.

During sleep, leptin levels increase, telling your brain you have plenty of energy for the time being and there’s no need to trigger the feeling of hunger or the burning of calories. When you don’t get enough sleep, you end up with too little leptin in your body, which, through a series of steps, makes your brain think you don’t have enough energy for your needs. So your brain tells you you’re hungry, even though you don’t actually need food at that time, and it takes steps to store the calories you eat as fat so you’ll have enough energy the next time you need it. The decrease in leptin brought on by sleep deprivation can result in a constant feeling of hunger and a general slowdown of your metabolism.

Ghrelin: The purpose of ghrelin is basically the exact opposite of leptin: It tells your brain when you need to eat, when it should stop burning calories and when it should store energy as fat. During sleep, levels of ghrelin decrease, because sleep requires far less energy than being awake does. People who don’t sleep enough end up with too much ghrelin in their system, so the body thinks it’s hungry and it needs more calories, and it stops burning those calories because it thinks there’s a shortage.

Also, not only does ghrelin cause you to eat more, but it also makes you crave foods high in carbohydrates. So by not sleeping, we’re setting ourselves up for a lot of struggle.

Cortisol: This is the stress hormone. Elevated cortisol levels are one of the first signs of sleep deprivation. High cortisol levels can cause weight gain, stress, and anxiety. However it is an important hormone in your body. The problem arises when cortisol is produced in the wrong amount and at the wrong time. When your stress levels are high, your body senses danger, so it stocks up on energy, storing fat as protection.

Lack of sleep causes your body to spend more time in a sympathetic state or “alarm state.” Our bodies need sleep to relax and recover allowing us to shift from a sympathetic state to a relaxed parasympathetic state. If you’re sleep deprived, your body doesn’t make that switch, which elevates cortisol levels at night and for an extended period of time.

Insulin: Insulin is your body’s major fat-storing hormone. Studies show that just one night, a twenty-four hour period (which is a short debt of sleep deprivation), can make some people as insulin resistant as a Type II diabetic.

It really has some dysfunction with your insulin’s function and causes extra circulation of sugar in your blood which can get processed in your liver. The sugar will more than likely get stored as belly fat. This is a classic sign of insulin resistance. So we really start to change the function of insulin when we’re sleep deprived.

Human Growth Hormone: HGH is an important part of the body’s endocrine system. It is especially active in the growing child’s maturation. HGH is released by the brain into the bloodstream during sleep, and its release is part of the repair and restoration function of sleep.

Human growth hormones promote a healthy metabolism, enhance your physical performance, and may even help you live longer.

Melatonin: This is a sleep hormone that regulates your body’s circadian timing system (24 hour internal clock). Melatonin requires two factors. It requires an environmental darkness, and it requires a cyclical pattern. It needs to get established and it’s looking for a cycle for it to be produced optimally.

Melatonin increases your body’s ratio of fat burning fat. Brown adipose tissue burns white adipose tissue. We’re putting ourselves at a metabolic disadvantage if we’re not getting sleep, if we’re not allowing our body to produce melatonin.

 

 Relationship between fat and sleep

There are two types of fat and both are hormonally driven. Subcutaneous fat is a layer of fat below the skin. The other type of fat is visceral fat, also known as omentum fat. Visceral fat is fat stored around your organs and it tends to hold around the waistline. Visceral fat is especially dangerous and can lead to disease.

There is a joint publication of the Sleep Research Societyand theAmerican Academy of Sleep Medicine, and the results found that subjects who slept less than six hours a night over the course of the five year study had a 32% gain in visceral fat in comparison to those who slept for more than six hours per night who had an average increase of 13% in visceral fat. This is more than twice as much visceral fat accumulation due to sleep deprivation. As you can see, there is a positive correlation between sleep deprivation and the accumulation of body fat.

 

Signs of sleep deprivation

Now that you know what sleep deprivation is and the effect it has on your body, let’s identify common signs of sleep deprivation:

  • Yawning
  • Caffeine dependent
  • Overweight
  • Moodiness
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Depressed mood
  • Difficulty learning new concepts
  • Forgetfulness
  • Inability to concentrate or a “fuzzy” head
  • Lack of motivation
  • Clumsiness
  • Increased appetite and carbohydrate cravings
  • Reduced sex drive

How to avoid sleep deprivation

You can avoid sleep deprivation by simply decreasing your sleep debt. If your body needs 8 hours of sleep to function optimally (everyone is different), and you get 6 hours of sleep, this puts you at a sleep debt of two hours. In order to prevent the long term effect of sleep debt, you will want to catch up on the sleep you lost in order prevent sleep deprivation.

To pave the way for better sleep, follow these simple yet effective healthy sleep tips,including:

  • Relaxation (meditation and mindful breathing techniques).
  • Stick to a sleep schedule,even on weekends.
  • Practice a relaxing bedtime routine.
  • Exercise
  • Evaluate your bedroom to ensure ideal temperature, sound and light.
  • Get more sun exposure in the morning between 8am – 10am (circadian timing system).
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.
  • Beware of hidden sleep stealers,like alcohol and caffeine.
  • Turn off electronics before bed.
  • Avoid eating 2-3 hours before bed.
  • Medicinal Mushroom Rishi has been utilized for thousands of years and it has a tremendous amount of clinical data to back it up without side effects.
  • Increase overall sleep time (recommend 8-9 hours/day).
  • Get through all sleep cycles.

 

Sleep cycles

Stage One:  Within minutes (sometimes even within seconds!) of nodding off, your brain produces what are called alpha and theta waves and your eye movements slow down. This introduction to sleep is relatively brief, lasting up to seven minutes. Here, you are in light stage sleep, which means that you’re somewhat alert and can be easily woken. It’s during this stage of sleep that people often indulge in brief “catnaps.”

Stage Two: During this stage, which is also fairly light, the brain produces sudden increases in brain wave frequency known as sleep spindles. Then brain waves slow down. If you were to schedule a “power nap” you’d want to wake up after this stage of sleep.

 Stages Three and Four: This stage is the beginning of deep sleep, as the brain begins producing slower delta waves. You won’t experience any eye movement or muscle activity. At this point, it becomes a little harder for you to be awakened because your body becomes less responsive to outside stimuli. The brain produces even more delta waves and you move into an even deeper, more restorative stage of sleep next. It’s most difficult to wake up during this stage. This is when the body repairs muscles and tissues, stimulates growth and development, boosts immune function, and builds up energy for the next day.

Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep:  You generally enter REM sleep about 90 minutes after initially falling asleep, and each REM stage can last up to an hour. An average adult has five to six REM cycles each night. During this final phase of sleep, your brain becomes more active. This is when most dreaming occurs, your eyes jerk quickly in different directions (hence, the name!), heart rate and blood pressure increase, and breathing becomes fast, irregular, and shallow. REM sleep plays an important role in learning and memory function, since this is when your brain consolidates and processes information from the day before so that it can be stored in your long-term memory.

 

Sleep recommendations

New recommendations from National Sleep Foundation

  • School age children (6-13):Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
  • Teenagers (14-17):Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
  • Younger adults (18-25):Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
  • Adults (26-64):Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+):Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)

 


What You Need to Know to Succeed on a Healthy Diet

What You Need to Know to Succeed on a Healthy Diet

Have you been working hard at the gym but you just aren’t getting the results you expected? Well, I’m gonna give it to you straight here – it’s your diet. Your diet, or should I say meal plan (aka: what you eat everyday), plays a vital role into your overall physique.

You Can’t Outwork a Poor Diet

Back in college when I gained the Freshman 15 (mine was the Sophomore 20), I decided to hop on the cardio machines at the gym for an hour a day. I changed nothing with my diet (I was still eating like an emotional teenage girl), and guess what, nothing changed!

With weight loss specifically, it always comes back to the golden rule:

Food In < Energy Out = Weight Loss

So, let’s just break this down a bit further. When I do a weight training session, I burn approximately 400 calories. That’s roughly 5 slices of bread. That’s about a cup and a half of diced chicken. A Big Mac has 563 calories.

In today’s world, a workout won’t even burn an American Fast-Food Meal (which is quite gross if you think about it). Yes, your body burns calories at rest during the day while doing your normal activities. We will get into that a little later as to how much you should be eating. But, first, let’s talk about the when.

When Should You Be Eating? 

You should be eating every 3 hours roughly. This allows your body to stay in an anabolic state. What does anabolic mean? It means staying in a fat-burning state. For me, this accumulates to 6-7 small meals a day. Why should I be eating that much? The most common mistake I see among clients is eating too little. When I tell clients to eat more, they are confused as to why they should eat more to lose weight.

First, your body runs off of fuel (food) and it takes your body roughly 3 hours to process the food you eat. After your body has processed that food, it begins to go into starvation mode (even if you don’t feel hungry). This is called “Catabolic.” Instead of your body feeding off of fat – it is actually feeding off of your muscle. Of course your body likes to eat the good stuff first, right? And why does this matter? Because having more muscle allows you to burn more fat at rest. Therefore, eating meals more frequently actually allows you to burn more calories at rest because it’s maintaining the muscle on your body!

Second, eating smaller meals throughout the day will help you to not overeat. I notice that after work I’m STARVING because I wasn’t paying attention to how hungry I actually was and then I overeat when I get home. You may experience the same thing. Try to stay on track with your meals throughout the day.

Third, you will feel more awake and more alert throughout the day. Like I said earlier, your body runs off of food and your body needs that food roughly every 3 hours. You won’t experience the afternoon crash if you eat like this – it’s amazing!

Fourth, your metabolism will increase! This is the best result by far. You will be going into your next meal really hungry, and that means that your body has used up all the fuel you gave it earlier and it’s ready for more!

But, Aly, how do I start eating 6 meals a day if I’m not even hungry? I suggest that you start by forcing it at first. Start with breakfast. If you are not a breakfast person, you need to force yourself to be one. You should be eating as soon as you wake up in the morning. Why? Because food is the only thing that will jumpstart your metabolism. You may not wake up hungry in the morning, but if you start having breakfast, I guarantee that in a few weeks your body will adjust and you will wake up very ready for food!

What You Should Be Eating?

What you should be eating is a little controversial. You have probably seen the trendy Keto Diet, Paleo, Flexible Dieting, and many more. Here’s the best way to go about your diet: keep it simple. If it’s not something you can do for the rest of your life, then it’s probably not something you should do at all. A “normal” American diet usually consists of things like pasta and pizza for dinner. This is not “normal.” Try to stick to whole foods that don’t come in a box or the freezer section.

A good rule to follow: Stick to the outside aisles when shopping at the grocery store.

Foods have Macro nutrients and Micro nutrients. Macro’s include: Protein, Carbs and Fat. When looking at the Macro Nutrients, here are some good examples to choose from that fit into each category:

Protein: Chicken breast, Lean/Extra Lean Ground Turkey, Lean Steak, Plain Greek Yogurt, Eggs, Fish, Shrimp

Fat: Avocado, Almonds, Fish, Virgin Olive Oil, Coconut Oil

Carbs: Brown Rice, Rice Cakes, Sweet Potatoes, Red Potatoes, Ezekiel Bread, Fruits (bananas or blueberries are best)

Why are the foods you eat important? Micro nutrients are the reason why your food choices matter. Micro nutrients are the vitamins and minerals in food. For example, let’s take an orange and a jelly bean and compare macro and micro nutrients:

Orange Nutrition: .9g Protein  .1g Fat  11g Carbs

Vitamins: Vitamin C 85% + Other Vitamins

Jelly Bean Nutrition: 0g Protein   0g Fat   10g Carbs

Vitamins: NONE

As you can see, the right choice is an orange because of all the added vitamins!

Again, this should be an overall lifestyle. During life we get cravings. Allow yourself to eat what you want occasionally, just don’t go overboard.

How Much Should You Be Eating?

Portion sizes have gotten out of control in today’s world. So many people overeat, especially at dinner time. I portion my food based on the macro-nutrition (protein, carbs + fat). The reason I do this is because it makes things much easier, and I’m all about ease when it comes to my meal plan. But, how do you calculate what macros you should be eating in order to achieve weight loss? There are quite a few things that go into calculating this number such as resting metabolic rate and activity level. If you are looking for this number, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask us for it!

In summary:

  • You can’t outwork a poor diet
  • Eat small meals throughout the day to stay in an anabolic state
  • Keep your food choices simple
  • Stick to the outside aisles at the grocery store
  • Figure out your personal Macro-Nutrition goals for what you are looking to achieve

If you are looking to figure out your Macro-Nutrition goals, please reach out to Aly McPherson at PrettyGrittyGirl@gmail.com

 

 


10 Things You Need to Know to Burn Body Fat and Get Lean

10 Things You Need to Know
to Burn Body Fat and Get Lean

This is the ultimate guide to fat loss and getting lean. Whether you’re looking to get swim suit ready for the summer, getting ready for a vacation to the Caribbean, or just want to get rid of unwanted body fat, you’re in the right place. I am going to take you through 10 things you need to know to lose body fat.

1. It’s All About ENERGY Balance

Energy balance is the difference between your energy input—in layman’s terms the calories you consume through food versus the calories your body burns. Some people refer to the energy balance equation as the “calories in, calories out” equation. Calculating your energy balance should be the first step in the process when looking to lose weight, burn fat, or gain muscle. You should calculate your energy balance.

Positive energy balance: This occurs when you’re at a caloric surplus or you are consuming more calories than you burn resulting in weight gain. (Weight gain = energy input > energy output).

Negative energy balance: This occurs when you’re at a caloric deficit or you are consuming less calories than you burn resulting in weight loss. (Weight loss = energy input < energy output). For best results you want a caloric deficit of 500-1000 calories per day to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

There are three ways to change your energy balance. You can reduce your caloric intake, increase your energy output (exercise more), or combine both options to achieve a caloric deficit necessary for weight loss.

2. Resistance Training

The more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you burn. More muscle means your body will burn more calories per day—at rest! Sounds simple, right? However, the only way to build more muscle is to incorporate resistance training (lifting weights) into your exercise program. By incorporating resistance training, your body will signal a stress response to your muscles triggering them to grow bigger and stronger so they become more resilient to the stress of the resistance.

Your body will use more calories as it grows more muscle, but you can also take into account the energy (calories) you’re expending while you’re working out and the energy your muscles use to repair themselves after you’re done. When you put it all into perspective, you can see why resistance training is so important to losing fat and getting lean! In some cases, you don’t even have to cut calories to see some aesthetic benefits from resistance training.

When it comes to your exercise regimen, stick to compound exercises that use large muscle groups over multiple joints to get the most out of your workouts. These include movements like squat variations, deadlifts, bench press, push-ups, rows, pull-ups, etc. Stick to free weights and body weight exercises versus machines. Another thing to consider is rest time between sets. If your main goal is fat loss, you will want to keep the intensity high during your workouts. There are a couple ways you can do this. You can increase the weight or load of the exercise, or decrease the rest time between sets. Typically, you want your rest interval to be 30-60 seconds depending on how heavy you are lifting. Sticking to these simple rules will allow you to burn more calories during your workouts and expedite the fat loss process!

3. Cardio Workouts

Cardio is anything that raises your heart rate. When you think of cardio, you probably think of steady state cardio jogging or cycling for 30 minutes at the same pace and speed. If your goal is to burn fat, interval training should be part of your workout program. Interval training is a great way to get in an effective workout with minimal time and it’s extremely effective for burning fat.

The most important thing about high intensity interval training (HIIT) is that it keeps your body burning fat even after you leave the gym. During an HIIT workout, your body can’t shuttle enough oxygen to your muscles during periods of hard work. Therefore, your muscles accumulate oxygen “debt” that must be repaid post-workout in order to get back to normal. The result: Your metabolism is sky high for hours after your workout. Fitness professionals refer to this concept as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). The biggest way to use it to your advantage is to regularly work short, intense bouts of exercise into your workout regimen.

Here are benefits of HIIT workouts:

  • Time efficient
  • Boost metabolism
  • EPOC
  • Stimulates growth hormones
  • Develops cardiovascular system
  • Improved heart health
  • Decreases recovery time
  • Variety of workout types

When creating interval workouts, focus on work to rest ratio. This could be as simple as 30 second sprints followed by 30 seconds of rest for 8 sets. This is an example of an equal work to rest ratio interval. You can make this same workout more difficult by increasing the number of sets or by decreasing the rest interval—30 second sprints followed by 15 seconds of rest. This is a 2:1 work to rest ratio. You may want to consider decreasing the number of sets when decreasing the rest interval for sustainability purposes. Always start with moderate intensity then progress as your fitness level improves.

4. Eat More Fiber

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate the body can’t break down into glucose to use for energy. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Both are beneficial in different ways. Soluble fiber attracts water to form a gel which slows down digestion and delays the emptying of your stomach, helping to keep you full longer. Additionally, it can lower blood cholesterol by interfering with the absorption of dietary cholesterol, helping to remove it from the body.

Here is a list of foods that are rich in fiber:

  • broccoli
  • asparagus
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • celery
  • spinach
  • apples
  • berries
  • green beans
  • zucchini
  • whole grains
  • green leafy veggies
  • beans

Fiber rich food slows the release of carbohydrates. Black beans, berries, sweet potatoes, and other high-fiber foods are digested at a much slower rate, causing a slow, steady stream of glucose into your blood stream. On the other hand, low-fiber foods like white bread will digest much faster, causing larger spikes in insulin.

High-fiber foods like broccoli will fill you up and make you feel satisfied longer, even when you eat less food. One cup of broccoli yields about 40 calories with 10 grams of carbs, 4 of which are “unabsorbable” fiber. Compare that broccoli to one cup of pasta that yields around 150 calories with 45 grams of carbs. You’d be able to blow through that cup of pasta like it was nothing, and probably go back for seconds and thirds, but that single cup of broccoli may be filling enough that you feel great for hours.

5. All Calories are NOT the Same

The foods we eat are just as important as the calories they supply. Simply put, everything you eat can be categorized as either a carbohydrate, fat, or protein. Each of these three macronutrients will metabolize differently, even though they all provide calories. One gram of protein provides 4 calories, one gram of carbs provides 4 calories, and one gram of fat provides 9 calories.

If your diet consists of donuts and candy, for example, you’ll look and feel differently than if your diet consists of lean meat and vegetables. Protein has a higher thermic effect than carbohydrates and fats. This means your body burns more calories breaking down and digesting protein than it does carbs and fats. Additionally, protein is more filling than carbohydrates.

Although protein is an important part of a healthy diet, you certainly shouldn’t derive all of your calories from that one macronutrient. Carbohydrates and fats are essential for optimal health as well. Certain fats, such as medium-chain fatty acids like coconut oil, are actually linked to increased energy expenditure and reduced hunger when included in the diet.

Carbohydrates are your body’s go-to energy source and are necessary for maintaining intensity during your workouts. However, carbohydrates also fill up your body’s glycogen stores quickly, so excess carbs in your diet can also mean excess fat.

Everyone’s body is different. There is not a one size fits all solution to calorie intake or macronutrient breakdown. The best thing you can do is track what’s going into your body, adjust as needed, and repeat that process until you get the desired outcome you want.

6. Track, Adjust, Repeat

This is probably the most important tip for getting and staying lean. You must track your progress, take body measurements, measure body fat, and weight. Also, record your food portions so you know what will work for your body.

I know it sounds too simplistic, but the only real way to figure out what will work for you is trial and error. However, there are a couple of things you can do to make the process easier. Number one, figure out your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).

This number tells you how many calories you need to consume in order to maintain your current weight based on your activity level. If your goal is fat loss, you will want to subtract 500 from that number and that will be the number of calories you will need to lose weight and burn fat. To be consistent, track and record what you eat to see how close you are to calorie needs. Once you have controlled your caloric intake, you can start to break those calories down into macronutrient ratios.

Ectomorph: If you’re an ectomorph, you’re naturally thin with skinny limbs and a high tolerance for carbohydrates. Usually your metabolic rate is fast. A good starting macronutrient ratio for you would be something like 25% protein, 55% carbs and 20% fat.

Mesomorph: Mesomorphs are naturally muscular and athletic. They have a moderate carbohydrate tolerance and a moderate metabolic rate. Mesomorphs can usually start at a 30% protein, 40% carb, and 30% fat macronutrient ratio.

Endomorph: If you’re naturally broad and thick, you’re probably an endomorph. Endomorphs have a low carbohydrate tolerance and a slow metabolic rate. If you’re an endomorph, try a ratio of 35% protein, 25% carbs and 40% fat.

7. Get Rid of the Sugar

The most common sugars are monosaccharides (glucose, fructose and galactose), but mostly these are occurring as disaccharides (which are sucrose, lactose and maltose). Monosaccharides and disaccharides are two kinds of simple sugars, which are a form of carbohydrate. Oligosaccharides and polysaccharides, on the other hand, contain more sugar combinations and are known as complex carbohydrates — for example, whole grain breads, brown rice and sweet potatoes.

Monosaccharides require the least effort by the body to break down, meaning they are available for energy more quickly than disaccharides.

When it comes to fat loss, you will want to be mindful of your sugar consumption as it spikes insulin levels which can cause your body to store excess fat. Glucose and maltose are notorious for affecting insulin levels, but stick to natural sugar from fruit and limit food items with added table sugar or sweeteners.

8. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

A lot of people underestimate the importance of hydration when it comes to fat loss, and drinking plenty of water is one of the easiest steps you can take for a healthier body and mind. Start drinking early in the morning and aim to drink between 3-5 liters per day – depending on your body composition. This will help flush your body of toxins and allow your body to function optimally. Some other benefits of drinking lots of water include: healthier skin, teeth and bones, improved digestion, reduced fatigue and increased fat metabolism.

9. Snacks on Deck

Snacking is often our biggest downfall when it comes to eating well and getting lean. You want to aim for 3 medium sized meals a day (~300-500 calories each) and supplement the rest of your daily calorie needs with 2-3 snacks (~100-300 calories each). Here are a few healthy snack ideas:

  • Protein shake/smoothie
  • Handful of nuts
  • Berries or apple
  • Greek yogurt
  • Hard-boiled egg
  • Celery with almond butter
  • Hummus and carrots
  • Cottage cheese

10. Chill Out to Manage Stress

For most of us, stress is a fact of life. Unfortunately, research reveals that it’s also a fact of fat. Even if you usually eat well and exercise, chronic high stress can prevent you from losing weight—or even add pounds.

Your body responds to all stress in exactly the same way. Every time you have a stressful day, your brain instructs your cells to release potent hormones. You get a burst of adrenaline, which taps stored energy so you can fight or flee. At the same time, you get a surge of cortisol, which tells your body to replenish that energy even though you haven’t used very many calories. This can make you hungry…very hungry. And your body keeps on pumping out that cortisol as long as the stress continues.

Levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, rise during tension-filled times. This can turn your overeating into a habit. Because increased levels of the hormone also help cause higher insulin levels, your blood sugar drops and you crave sugary, fatty foods.

A University of San Francisco study published in 2011 found that rats placed in high-stress situations were likely to use fatty and sugary foods to self-medicate; the comfort food had a calming effect on the rats’ brains that restricted the release of stress-related hormones. Stress hormones send messages to the body, one of which is to store fat around the body. The most studied and effective way to reduce stress is meditation, because it lowers cortisol and blood pressure levels.

Here are a few things you can do to relieve stress

  • Meditate
  • Yoga
  • Deep breathing techniques
  • Sleep (7 hours or more)
  • Light exercise

Now you are equipped with the information you need to start your journey towards getting lean and mean! Remember, getting the results you want is all about educating yourself so you are prepared to do things the right way. This means doing the appropriate workouts like HIIT and interval cardio workouts to maximize fat burn. Calculate your calorie needs, body measurements, macronutrient goals, and be flexible to make adjustments on the fly. Stay away from foods with added sugars, drink lots of water, eat frequent meals, have snacks ready, and stay stress free!

Looking for a structured program that will help you burn fat and get lean muscle? Try our 8-Week Program: Lean Machine
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Aerobic Training For Athletes

Aerobic Training For Athletes

What is aerobic training

Aerobic training, also known as cardio, improves an athlete’s ability to use oxygen to sustain activity for periods of time. The aerobic energy system utilizes fats, carbohydrates and sometimes proteins for re-synthesizing of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) for energy use. ATP is the primary energy carrier in all living organisms. The aerobic system produces far more ATP than either of the other energy systems but it produces the ATP much more slowly, therefore it cannot fuel intense exercise that demands the fast production of ATP. However, aerobic training for athletes is key to optimizing performance.

Why aerobic training is good for athletes

The aerobic system is the dominant source of energy in sport and activities lasting longer than 3 minutes of continuous activity. Here are a few examples: endurance runners, cyclists, and distance swimmers, etc. All athletes can benefit from aerobic training even if they rely on quick short bursts of energy. Building a larger aerobic base will help increase anaerobic thresholds and improve energy efficiency.

Effects of aerobic training for athletes

Our bodies adapt to low to moderate-intensity activities that last for more than just a few minutes. Sustained workouts improve your body’s ability to breathe in and use oxygen. Here are the types of adjustments our bodies make internally to make these improvements:

  1. Increases in the number of mitochondria (small structures known as the powerhouses) inside muscle cells that produce energy from oxygen,
  2. Increases in the muscle’s ability to use fat as fuel,
  3. Greater lung capacity,
  4. Improved heart stroke volume (the amount of blood pumped with each beat),
  5. Changes in hormones (epinephrine) that break down and move fat through the body for use as a fuel,
  6. Increased lean body mass.

 

What are the best Aerobic Training Workouts

Intensity (how hard), duration (how long), and frequency (how often) are key ways to improve your ability to maintain aerobic activity. Fitness improves when intensity is between 70-80% of maximum heart rate, but this may not be adequate for endurance athletes in some sports and events.

Elite endurance athletes often utilize high-intensity interval (HIIT) exercise in their training regimens. Recent studies indicate that HIIT is a time-efficient strategy to stimulate a number of muscle adaptations that are comparable to traditional endurance training. Athletes may include other sport-specific activities in interval training workouts.

The aerobic energy system can be developed with various types of training.

  • Interval training– Interval training for the long term aerobic energy system would have a work-rest ratio of 1:1 or 1:2. The work periods would usually exceed several minutes and the rest periods would be active but at a lower intensity that could be sustained.
  • Continuous training– Training that maintains a constant intensity and lasts for a prolonged period of time (usually longer than 15 minutes)
  • ‘Fartlek’ training– A type of interval training whereby the exerciser varies the speed and effort throughout the training session according to how they feel ensuring that they can continue to exercise at all times (i.e. no rest intervals).

Workout Examples

  • Run for two minutes at mod/high intensity, followed by two minutes at low intensity (active recovery) repeated for 30 minutes.
  • 30 minutes low/moderate intensity cycling, swimming or jogging without change in intensity.
  • 30 minute jog over hills requiring bursts of extra effort every now and then but never stopping throughout the jog.

 Process and rate of recovery

 Recovery for the aerobic system is about restoring fuel stores to their pre-exercise levels. This requires the ingestion, digestion and transportation of the fuel and can take between 12 and 48 hours depending on the intensity and duration of the aerobic training for the athlete’s performance.

 


How to Grocery Shop with Better Health in Mind

How to Grocery Shop with Better Health in Mind

Vegetable and Fruit Aisle 

You cannot go wrong with fruits and vegetables. Throw anything that appeals to you into the cart. More color variety = the more antioxidants and nutrients you’ll get. **DENOTES HIGH QUALITY NUTRIENTS**

FRUIT

RED

□ Apples**

□ Strawberries**

□ Cherries**

□ Watermelon**

YELLOW/ORANGE

□ Bananas**

□ Oranges**

□ Pineapple**

GREEN

□ Kiwi**

BLUE/PURPLE

□ Berries**

□ Red grapes

□ Figs and Dates**

VEGETABLES

RED

□ Red bell peppers**

□ Tomatoes

YELLOW/ORANGE

□ Baby carrots**

□ Sweet potatoes** (starchy carbohydrate)

□ Corn (starchy carbohydrate)

□ Squash**(starchy carbohydrate)

GREEN

□ Avocado**

□ Broccoli**

□ Spinach, Kale, Power greens**

□ Green Beans**

□ Brussel Sprouts

□ Zucchini**

BLUE/PURPLE

□ Beets**

□ Eggplant**

WHITE

□ Diced garlic or fresh garlic

□ Coleslaw mix

□ Onions

□ Portobello mushrooms** RECOVER. PREVENT. OPTIMIZE. VIVERANT.COM

Meat, Poultry, Fish, and Deli Counters 

□ Turkey or chicken breast**

□ Deli turkey or lean ham

□ Ground turkey, chicken, lean beef**

□ Frozen salmon patties (wild Alaskan)**

□ Frozen seafood fillets (halibut, salmon, mahi mahi, tilapia, etc)

□ Grilled chicken strips

□ Lean beef or pork cubes for stir-frying

Snack Aisle 

□ Almonds

□ Dark chocolate

□ Dried fruit (no added sugar, unsweetened)

□ Graham crackers

□ High-fiber, high protein granola bars (minimum 10 g protein, under 30 g carbohydrates)

□ Pistachios

□ Pretzels

□ Reduced-fat microwaveable popcorn

□ Salsa

□ Seeds (pumpkin, chia, sesame)**

□ Walnuts

□ Whole-grain baked crackers

Baking Aisle 

Herbs and spices—if you are an avid cook: keep a larger collection, but if you do not cook much, at least get:

◦ Black pepper

◦ Salt

◦ Garlic powder

◦ Cinnamon

◦ Chili powder

◦ Italian seasoning

◦ Pre-made spice blend that appeals to you (lemon pepper, montreal steak, Caribbean jerk, etc)

□ Nonstick cooking spray

□ Ground Flaxseed

□ Olive oil

□ Maple syrup

□ Vinegar (try apple cider, balsamic or red-wine vinegar)

□ Whole-wheat flour / Almond flour / Coconut flour

Beverage Aisle 

□ Carbonated water (LaCroix)

□ Coconut water

□ Tea

Condiment Aisle 

□ Oil based salad dressings

□ Low-sodium soy sauce

□ Hot sauce RECOVER. PREVENT. OPTIMIZE. VIVERANT.COM

◦ Black beans

◦ Cannellini beans

◦ Chickpeas

◦ Kidney beans

◦ Your favorite bean

Grain/Starchy Vegetable Aisle 

□ Ancient grain (amaranth, buckwheat, millet, farro)**

□ Barley**

□ Brown rice**

□ Lentils**

□ Quinoa**

□ Whole Wheat pasta

□ Steel Cut oats**

□ Whole-grain cereal (contain at least 3-4 grams of fiber)

□ Whole-wheat bread, English muffins or sandwich thins **

Canned Food Aisles 

□ Beans:**

□ Canned chicken or packets of salmon** and/or tuna**

□ Low-sodium spaghetti sauce

□ Olives

□ Peanut butter/Almond Butter

□ Stewed tomatoes

Frozen Food Aisles 

□ Berries

□ Peas (starchy carbohydrate)

□ Black-bean burgers

□ Chicken breasts

□ Turkey burgers

□ Vegetables (steam able broccoli, California blend)

□ Whole-grain waffles (Van’s power grain)

Dairy Case 

□ Eggs**

□ Feta cheese

□ Plain Greek yogurt**

□ Milk (skim or 1%)**

□ Whipped Neufchâtel cheese

□ Parmesan cheese

□ Mozzarella Part-Skim*

□ 2% cottage cheese**

  • Other Recommendations: 

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  • 48686 Valley Forge Ln N
    Maple Grove, MN 55369
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