3 Ways to Get the Scale Moving

Do you want the scale to move – and MOVE NOW!?  Here’s 3 ways to get the scale moving in the right direction, RIGHT NOW! 

  1. Start with Nutrition.  Most people think that working out is what they need to do right away to get the scale moving.  And yet, truthfully, food is where you can see the most results.  80% diet and 20% working out is a great rule to follow.  You can’t out-train a poor diet – it’s impossible!  So starting in the kitchen is a huge key to your overall success and getting the scale moving in the right direction (no matter what direction that may be). I also highly recommend tracking your food. What get’s measured get’s improved – right?  I’m unsure of who said this, but – they are right!  Even if you don’t want to use a tracking app, simply writing down what you eat in a day can be a very eye opening experience.  But, overall – food is key in overall health and fitness goals.  This is a foundation when it comes to getting results. 
  2. Comprehensive Programming.  Now, let’s get to the working out part. There is a strategic and science-based way to optimally train when it comes to working out.  It’s not one size fits all.  Find something that first, interests you and keeps you interested and also, that works for you!  If you need help in this area – we have your back!  We offer custom comprehensive programming.  If you are interested in this – please reach out to us and we’d be happy to help in any way that we can! 
  3. Find a Plan that’s for YOU.  Again, it’s not one size fits all.  The best plan for you is the one that you will stick with – for a LIFETIME.  We truly believe in making health and wellness a lifestyle because that is the only way you will get results and maintain those results.  In addition, there are so many positive benefits to living a healthy lifestyle.  This does not mean you need to restrict, restrict, restrict.  That’s only going to cause you to binge and restrict again and get stuck in that cycle.  Not to mention, you’ll be miserable every time your restricting!  Nobody wants that.  It’s finding what works best in your life.

If you are looking to get started on your healthy lifestyle, contact us!  We’d be happy to help you find a nutrition plan and workout plan that works for you.  


Have You Hit a Plateau in Your Fitness?

One thing we probably all have experienced before, no matter what our fitness goals are, is a plateau.  Plateau’s can happen for several different reasons, which is what we will go over. In addition, we will give you 5 ways you can get over plateaus!  

Why Do Plateaus Happen?

  1. Caloric Deficit – Now, you might say “I thought the rule was calories in vs. calories out” in a weight loss scenario.  And yes, this is true to a degree. However, if you are at too much of a calorie deficit your body is also not getting all the nutrients it needs.  And if this happens for too long, this is where a plateau will occur.
  2. Starvation Mode – When you are hungry, your body releases a hormone called ghrelin. Ghrelin is also the hormone in your body that promotes fat storage.  Whenever you have feelings of hunger during the day, your body is producing too much ghrelin. This in turn causes your metabolism to slow down and fat storage to go up.
  3. Tracking – If you are not tracking your food, you can expect to hit a plateau.  And if you do track your food, a lot of us don’t track properly or report all calories eaten.  

Here’s 5 ways to get past that stubborn plateau:

  1. Stop Starving Yourself – Work with a professional to figure out what a good calorie intake would be to reach your goals.  In addition, if you are starving yourself, you are less likely to stick with this type of diet and you will feel deprived constantly.  And this may cause you to get into the restrict – binge cycle a lot of us know so well.
  2. Track – When you have specific fitness goals, tracking is a huge way to reach these goals.  And ensure you are tracking properly by measuring your intake as well. There can be a huge difference between guessing and actually measuring:
  • For example: A medium apple (100g) = 52 calories and 14 carbohydrates.  A large apple (223g) = 116 calories and 31 carbohydrates. So, if you are not measuring that apple and tracking the calories for the exact size, you could potentially overeat quite easily.  
  • Some of our favorite Tracking Apps:
  1. My Fitness Pal –  
  2. My Plate Calorie Counter
  3. Lose It! Calorie Counter
  4. LifeSum: Diet and Macro Tracker

**Our suggestion is to work with a professional to figure out calories and macros (protein, carbs, fat daily count) that is for you and your goals.  A lot of times apps will restrict your calories too much and this will cause a plateau as mentioned above.

  1. Make it a Lifestyle – Finding a diet and exercise routine that fits best into your life is ultimately the one you will stick with. Stop restricting and binging.  Stop getting some results, stopping and then starting over. Making your health a priority and part of your everyday life is ultimately the best way to get results and maintain those results long term.
  2. Rest – If your goals are losing weight, it’s common that losing weight up front is easier than losing those last few pounds.  As we get leaner, our body holds onto certain weight a lot more because of survival purposes (and for women, perhaps child bearing purposes).  In this scenario, a lot of people think they need to restrict calories even more, which will in turn create a more negative outcome. Giving your body rest is important in this case.  Taking stress off the body will be huge in this scenario. Additionally, try increasing your calorie restriction 10% each week until you are only in a 500 calorie deficit. This will help jump start your weight loss once again!

Change it Up – Have you been doing the same classes each week?  Or the same program? Our bodies are made to adapt.  As workouts become less challenging, they also become less effective.  That does not mean you have to progressively make your workouts harder and harder.  But, you could simply change the types of exercises you’re doing. You could go heavy with strength training with fewer reps and then switch to lighter with more reps the next week.  For example, if you normally do push-ups maybe switch it up to a bench press this week. And if you are not sure where to start on switching things up, we have you covered! Our programming is specifically created with this in mind!  


Get Stronger with Progressive Overload

Get Stronger with Progressive Overload

Have you experienced training plateaus that caused your strength gains to become stagnant? I often hear people tell me they lift 5 days a week but are not seeing results or strength gains. There are several reasons why you may hit training plateaus, but ultimately it boils down to the progressive overload principle.

What is Progressive Overload and Why is It Important?

Simply put, progressive overload is the concept of doing more over time. This principle involves increasing the demands on the musculoskeletal system to continually make gains in muscle size, strength, and muscular endurance. When we strength train our bodies elicit a stress response that causes an adaptation to take place. This results in our muscles become stronger and more resilient. In order keep making muscle gains and increase strength, you must continually increase the demands on your muscles.

The progressive overload principle doesn’t apply only to lifting weights to increase muscle growth and strength; it can also be applied to cardiovascular fitness programs. Increasing the intensity and duration will cause physiological changes affecting aerobic metabolism and the cardiorespiratory system.

Progressive Overload Methods

There are five key ways to implement progressive overload. Each are uniquely different. Based on your training experience and your goals, you want to be strategic with how you increase or decrease one of these methods. Below are ways you can implement progressive overload.

Increase Load – The amount of weight used or demand on you body

Increase Intensity – The amount of perceived exertion, speed, or force used during a specific exercise or workout.

Increase volume – Your total workload per training session. The amount of exercises, sets, and reps you do in a workout.  

Increase frequency – how many times a day or week you train

Decrease rest time between sets – This involves increasing work density meaning doing the same amount of work in less time, or doing more work in the same time.

How to Implement Progressive Overload Into Your Programing?

Let’s say you perform a set of back squats at 80% of your max for 8 reps which happens to be 225lbs. Over time, you’ll get stronger, and 8 reps won’t be as challenging as it once was.  At this point your body is no longer making any physiological adaptations. This is where we can apply our progressive overload methods.

If you continue performing that single set of back squats at 225lbs for 8 repetitions, without increasing frequency, intensity, or load, you will hit a plateau eventually. When that occurs depends on your training age (amount of time or years you have been training) and experience. However, if you place greater demands on your back squat by either increasing weight, volume, frequency, or intensity, you will continue to progress with your strength gains.

Strength gains are not linear. For example, adding 5-10lbs to an exercise each week is not sustainable over a year. That would be an increase of 260-520 pounds in one year which is extremely unrealistic. Adaptation and gains occur in waves. Some weeks you’ll see big jumps in and others you may even decrease but with proper implementation of the overload principle there should be an upward trend with consistent training, proper form, and quality recovery.

Beginners should progress in strength exercises by mastering technique and full range of motion first. After this they should increase volume, frequency, and load. Advanced lifters should focus on increasing load first, intensity seconds, and then volume. Again, the techniques you use should be in line with your fitness goals. Prioritize what’s important to you.


Dreams are Nothing Without This.

Do you ever have this grand idea and then begin to think about all the steps you need to take in order to reach that goal?  Does it ever seem overwhelming?  Let’s take losing weight as an example.  The dream is losing 20lbs.  When you think about losing 20lbs, you may start to think of all the steps you need to do to get there.  And then it begins to become very overwhelming thinking about prepping food and working out and eating right and meal prepping. It begins to appear cumbersome.  And this may become so staggering that you end up giving up before starting.   Or when you do start, you don’t see results right away, which can get frustrating and then you’re stuck in the starting over and over again cycle.  

Sometimes, dreaming about something gets in the way of the action part.  That is why it is better to be slightly detached from our expectations and to pay more attention to the actions themselves.  So, how do you focus more on the actions?  Here’s 5 ways to become more action driven: 

  1. Create a daily list.  Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many things on your to-do list, but make a list of 5 major things you want to accomplish that day that will help you succeed in your overall goals.  Focus on one small task after the next, which will give you a more simplified action plan.     
  2. Have faith in the work that you do and be humble enough to ask for help.  Make a commitment and have faith that your daily commitment will get you to your goals.    
  3. Believe that you can achieve your goals.  If you don’t believe in that goal, you’ll never accomplish what you initially set out to do.  Set your dreams high, but truly believe that you can achieve these dreams.  
  4. Detach yourself from the steps you think you need to take in order to achieve your dreams.  Do you ever start to tell yourself “well, I have to get here before I can get there.”  There are no rules set by the universe saying you have to take a certain path in order to achieve your goals, so let go of these expectations.  
  5. Create a positive environment.  This will allow you to achieve your dreams.  Surround yourself with people who believe in you as well.  

In conclusion, we want you to dream big!  But, make sure each and every day you are supporting your overall dream by taking it into action!  


Micros: Easily Overlooked and 3 Ways to Get Them

What are Micros?

Macro is a word often heard in the fitness community. Many of us have probably heard people say, “I’ll eat it as long as if it fits my macros.”  But, something that is easily overlooked is micros. “Micronutrients are dietary components, often referred to as vitamins and minerals, which although only required by the body in small amounts, are vital to development, disease prevention, and wellbeing,” (CDC.gov).  A lot of times when we focus on eating healthy, we direct our attention to the protein, fats and carbs on the nutrition labels, but we don’t focus on all the vitamins and minerals we may or may not be getting.  Ultimately it comes down to food choices. For example, let’s compare an orange and a jellybean.

10 Jelly Beans Nutrition:

Fat: 0g

Carbs: 10g

Protein: 0g

1 Small Orange Nutrition:

Fat: 0.1g

Carbs: 11g

Protein: .9g

On a Macro level, these two foods look like they are pretty similar – about 10g of carbs per serving.  But, on a Micro level, these two foods are very different:

Here are 3 Ways to Ensure You are Getting the Micronutrients You Need:

1.     Shop the outer rim of the grocery store: Food choices are very important when it comes to micronutrients. The outer rim is typically fresh whole foods, which means that they will be packed with both macronutrients and micronutrients.  Typically things that are frozen or come from a bag or box will not give you the micronutrients you need.

2.     Eat Your Fruits and Veggies: Fruits and Veggies are packed with all kinds of micronutrients.

3.     Supplementation: Food is always the best source to get your micronutrients, but this can often be a challenge. This is where supplements come into play.  Taking a multi-vitamin and fish oil is very foundational for most adults. If you’re not a huge fan of veggies, or have some digestion issues, adding a green supplement into your regimen could be a good idea too.  Here’s the supplement stack we recommend: https://1stphorm.com/products/stacks/sports-performance/the-essential-stack (You also get FREE shipping using that link!)

Balance is Key

The key to optimal nutrition fueling is consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables, healthy proteins, and carbohydrates. You want to limit your consumption of refined process carbs like sugary cereal, syrups, candy, cookies, ect. Aim for one meal every 2-4 hours to meet your daily caloric requirements. This may vary from person to person based on sex, age, weight, height, and activity level.

For more information schedule a nutrition consultation today!


Macros: The Building Blocks to Fueling Performance

Proteins, carbohydrates and fats are the three main suppliers of nutrients in our diet. These are known as macronutrients or “macros”. Macros play a vital role in our ability to perform at our peak level. Athletes can practice for hours but unless they fuel their bodies properly they will not reach their peak performance. Food is our fuel source for our body to be able to get stronger, faster, recover and perform. If you feel tired, sluggish, have a decrease in performance, always sore muscles, injuries that won’t heal, or a crash in the middle of game or practice; these are all signs that you are not fueling correctly.  Below is a guide for building healthy macronutrients into your nutrition plan.

Protein

Protein is essential to building and repairing muscle to enhance strength and power. It is commonly found in animal products, although it is also present in other sources, such as nuts and legumes. 

Here are the benefits of consuming protein. 

  • Build and repair muscle tissue
  • Heal tissues/injuries
  • Building blocks of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. 
  • Keeps us full and satisfied

Protein Sources

  • Beef:Grass fed ground beef, bison, elk, venison, pork
  • Fish: Salmon, shrimp, tuna, scallops, halibut (or any white fish)
  • Poultry: Eggs, Chicken, Turkey (white or dark meat)
  • Dairy: Milk, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, string cheese, cheese
  • Beans: Beans (any variety? Or only specific ones) contain more protein than any other vegetable protein. Plus, they’re loaded with fiber that helps you feel full for hours.
  • Nuts/Seeds: One ounce of almonds gives you 6 grams of protein-almonds, cashews, pistachios, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, chia/flax etc. 
  • Protein bars and Powders: Rx bar, Dales raw protein bars, bullet proof bars, oatmega bars, primal kitchen collagen bars, Epic or tanka meat bars

Aim to have a protein source at each meal!! (about 20-30g per meal)

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are sugars, starches and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products. Carbohydrates are very important to supplying energy for high performance during sport activities. There is a lot of information on carb-free diets, these are detrimental to an athlete. Carbs are the bodies preferred source of fuel. There are healthy and non-healthy carbs. Any carb that involves processed sugar would be a bad carb (cookies, cake, sugary cereal,). Good carbs are listed below. 

Benefits of Carbs

  • Fuel training and help with recovery 
  • Preserves muscle and glycogen (fuel sources)
  • Helps with recovery to be ready to go for next game or practice

Best Carb Sources 

  • Whole grains:oats, quinoa, wild rice, brown rice, faro, couscous, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread
  • Fruits:Bananas great pre/post workout snack. Include a variety of fruits in your day
  • Vegetables:starchy-sweet potatoes, squash, parsnips, beets, potatoes, peas, corn. Non-starchy-broccoli, cauliflower, celery, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, greens, asparagus etc. Make sure to have a veggie at every meal
  • Beans:Great source of fiber to help stay full and satisfied

Fats

Although it gets a bad rap, fat is an important nutrient that the body needs in order to function. Eating the right amount and the right form of dietary fat is key to maintaining good health and performance. Fat plays a key role in sports performance because it functions as an energy reserve. 

  • Helps fuel our workouts during low intensity bouts
  • Primary fuel source at rest
  • Slow Digesting to keep you feeling full and satisfied longer 

Best Sources of fats

  • Nuts and seeds-1/4 cup is approximate serving. Include all varieties. 
  • Avocados
  • Dairy(2% or higher) Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese, string cheese, milk, butter, ghee
  • Oils-extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil
  • Meats and fish-Wild salmon, grass fed beef, pork etc. 

Healthy Smoothie Recipes: These incorporate a protein, carb and fat.

1 scoop protein powder

1 fist of veggies (spinach works great)

1 Cup of berries

1-2 TBSP of nut or seed butter

8 oz Milk or unsweetened almond milk

Ice if desired 

            OR 

1 cup of Greek yogurt

1 big handful of spinach

1 banana

1-2 TBSP nut or seed butter

8oz of chocolate unsweetened almond milk

Balance is Key 

The key to optimal nutrition fueling is consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables, healthy proteins, and carbohydrates. You want to limit your consumption of refined process carbs like sugary cereal, syrups, candy, cookies, ect, the less you have, the better. Aim for one meal every 2-4 hours to meet your daily caloric requirements. This may vary from person to person based on sex, age, weight, height, and activity level. 

For more information schedule a nutrition consultation today!


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.

 


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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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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