Are You Sabotaging Your Weight Loss?

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Are You Sabotaging Your Weight Loss?

Nothing is more crushing than working your butt off to drop the weight, only to watch the numbers on the scale creep back up to where you started. But you don’t have to fall victim to the weight-loss weight-gain roller coaster. With a little knowledge and few tweaks to your diet and lifestyle you can lose weight once and be done with it.

You may not realize it, but in many cases you may be self-sabotaging your own weight loss success. Your metabolism is the system responsible for determining how many calories you burn a day. Many people blame their inability to lose weight on their metabolism. And guess what? They may be right. Unfortunately you may be partly to blame for that. The silly things you do to lose weight fast, may be slowing down your metabolism.

 

Not Eating Enough

The first thing most people do to lose unwanted pounds is cut way, way back on calories. Here’s the thing, your metabolism needs those calories to continue to burn at its best. When you cut too low, less than 1,200 calories for women and 1,500 calories for men, your metabolism slows down. This is because your body thinks it’s starving, so it slows everything down to try and preserve life-sustaining functions. This super slow down not only affects your metabolism, but also energy, concentration, skin, digestion and sex drive.

You know what else happens when you eat too few calories? Your body burns muscle to help make up the caloric difference. Muscle mass contributes to your calorie-burning metabolism. Less muscle means an even lower metabolism. Sure, it’s true when your aim is to lose weight you’re going to lose some muscle. But when you cut back too much too fast and your body is in self-preservation mode, it’s easier to turn protein into energy then fat.

What’s the lesson here? Don’t eat too little. With a little mathematical equation called the basal metabolic rate you can determine your personal calorie squeal point. Your BMR is the number of calories your body needs to sustain those life-preserving functions, like the beating of your heart and breathing. Because of body composition, the equation is different for men and women.

BMR for women: 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years)

BMR for men: 66 + (6.2 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) - (6.8 x age in years)

When you calculate your BMR you may think that’s way too much. I’ll never lose weight eating that much. But that’s where you’ve gone wrong all this time. If you’re not at least eating the minimum number of calories your body needs to simply breath, you’re not eating enough. And these are just your base calorie needs, this doesn’t factor in activity. Not eating enough to support your daily comings and goings may also lead to a slowdown in your metabolism.

Activity Factors:

Sedentary (no exercise, desk work): 1.2

Light activity (exercise 1-3 days a week): 1.375

Moderate activity (exercise 3-5 days a week): 1.55

Very active (hard exercise 6-7 days a week): 1.725

Extra active (heavy labor, sports training): 1.9

Daily calorie needs = BMR x activity factors

For example, a 35-year old 5’6” tall women who weighs a 150 pounds and exercises 3 days a week needs 1,998 calories a day to maintain her weight. To lose ½ to 1 pound a week, she’d need to reduce her daily intake by 250 to 500 calories. For the record, you don’t want to lose more than 2 pounds a week, otherwise you risk greater muscle loss than fat loss.

 

Skipping the Carbs or the Proteins or the Fats

No doubt, you know someone who’s convinced that carbs are the reason they can’t lose the weight. But it’s not carbs, it’s not fat and it sure isn’t the protein that’s making it so hard to drop excess pounds. It’s too many calories from one or all of these macros. While it’s true people can lose weight cutting out carbs or limiting fat, these types of weight loss diets are very difficult to stick with long term, and usually result in weight regain. Eating the right balance of macros is essential for keeping your metabolism running at its best. Macrostax generally recommends 40-50%C, 25-35%P, 25-30%F.  See, if you don’t get enough carbs or fat your body uses protein for energy, which affects your ability to build and retain muscle and, as a consequence, affects your metabolism.

Getting enough protein is not only important for preserving and building muscle, but researchers are learning that protein digestion and metabolism may also give a boost to your metabolic rate.

 

Working Out for Hours

Unless you’re training for a marathon or bulking up for a bodybuilding competition, there’s no need to spend 90 minutes on the treadmill. Overexercising triggers your body to breakdown muscle and store fat. Plus, spending too much time working out the same muscle groups may lead to fatigue or injury and put a kibosh on your whole exercise routine.

Instead, aim for 30 minutes of high-intensity interval training 3 to 5 times a week. HIIT not only burns more calories while you’re working out, but also gives you a metabolic bump for up to 3 hours after you’re done. And, if you haven’t figured it out yet, muscle is very important to your metabolic rate. So pick up those weights or add body resistance training to your workout routine to keep your metabolism running in high-gear.

 

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Benefits of Casein vs. Whey

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Benefits of Casein vs. Whey

When it comes to protein powders, whey gets all the glory. But it’s not the only dairy protein that offers benefits. Casein is just as helpful at building muscle and improving strength. In fact, its specific amino acid profile and slow digestion make it a good addition to any muscle-building diet plan.

Casein vs. Whey

Casein and whey are the two primary proteins found in cow’s milk. A single glass is usually comprised of about 80 percent casein and 20 percent whey. If you’re a visual person, when milk coagulates, casein is the curd, while whey is the liquid.

One of the primary differences between casein and whey is rate of digestion. Whey digests quickly, while casein takes longer. This is one of the primary reasons so many in the athletic world prefer whey protein. It gets to the muscles faster. However, while both are a rich source of all the essential amino acids, which are the amino acids your body must get from food, the body is better at breaking down and absorbing the protein and amino acids from casein than whey. That means casein provides more overall protein to your muscles.

The Benefits of Slow Digestion

While whey protein may be preferred for its fast-acting capabilities after a heavy muscle-building workout, what about the muscle building that happens later? Or when you go too long without eating, and your body uses your own muscle for fuel? As a slower digesting protein, often referred to as an anti-catabolic protein, casein may serve to help both of these scenarios. A 2001 study published in The American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism found that slower-digesting casein increases long-term post-meal amino acid circulation, which may help promote anabolism of muscle well after you’ve eaten, and prevent catabolism. These protein-building benefits may last up to at least 7 hours, according to researchers.

Forms of Casein

Casein comes in two forms: casein hydrolysate and micellar casein. The hydrolysate form is predigested and absorbs quickly, and is the main protein source in hypoallergenic infant formulas. Micellar casein digests more slowly and is rich in calcium and phosphorus. When looking to supplement with casein powder, you want to look for this type of casein. A good choice includes Ascent Native Fuel ™ Micellar Casein. One rounded scoop of this supplement contains 25 grams of slow-absorbing casein protein.

Does It Work

Like whey, there’s a lot of research that supports the benefits of supplementing with casein. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Science compared the effects of casein versus whey supplements taken before and after exercise on body composition in a group of college-age female athletes. The women in the study taking the casein protein powder increased lean body mass, decreased fat mass and improved physical performance. It’s important to note that there was no significant difference between the casein and whey protein group, meaning they were both equally beneficial.

An earlier study published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism comparing the differences in the two milk proteins on body composition in a group of men engaging in regular resistance training found that casein takers lost more fat than the whey takers. Both groups increased muscle mass.

A Word About Glutamine

One thing that separates casein from whey is glutamine. Glutamine is known as a semi-essential amino acid, which means technically your body is able to make it on its own, except under certain circumstances, including exercise related-stress. Low levels of glutamine affect immune health, and for the athlete or anyone involved in regular exercise, may impair performance (or your ability to finish that spin class). Casein, unlike whey, is a natural source of this amino acid. Taking a casein supplement after a workout may help replenish glutamine stores to improve immune health.

Adding Casein to Your Workout Plan


While the post-workout meal may be one of the most important meals, it may not be the best time to take your casein supplement. Unless, of course, it’s a glass of milk or a casein and whey mixed protein supplement. To get the most benefits, consider taking casein before bed to help your body build and repair muscle as you sleep. If you’re not into supplements, milk, along with cottage cheese and yogurt, can help you get more casein in your diet. As a source of protein, and possibly carbs and fat, whether in supplement or food form, casein needs to be included as part of your overall macro count.

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The Effect of Excess Sugar On Appetite

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The Effect of Excess Sugar On Appetite

What's Wrong Sugar?

Sugar has a lot enemies. Is sugar your friend and if not then what does research tell us about sugar? It is important to understand the information and advice below is aimed at the typical person not the competitive athlete. There is a time and place for consuming excess sugar and we will discuss that in an upcoming posts. But for the people who are trying to get lean and improve their performance research shows that high levels of fructose in your diet causes you to eat more. I think avoiding sugar is more important than people believe based upon the latest studies. We have learned that sugar contributes to obesity and weight gain. It also promotes negative insulin results. I know what you are thinking. Do not bore me with nutrition geek facts and figures and I don't want to read a journal article with information I am not sure is beneficial. So here is what you need to know and reasons to avoid added sugar: 

1. Fructose Causes the Body to Resist Insulin.

  • Hormone insulin regulates energy use and your metabolism. To make it really simple you need to know that excess fructose causes insulin resistance. For the normal athlete, someone trying to lose weight or change their body composition excess sugar will cause us to have elevated insulin levels. The body then has a hard time accessing stored fat and our brain makes us think we are hungry. So not only does the excess sugar cause the body to store energy from food into fat cells but it even makes us want to eat when we do not need to. 

2. The Hormone Leptin Is Your Friend

  • You need to know that your body stores fat for a rainy day. If you were starving your body wants to have fat cells to help keep you alive.  When you eat some of the food gets stored as fat. The bigger the fat cells the more leptin is secreted. More leptin equals less hungry so we have the energy we need and we eat less.

More fat = more leptin = we have enough energy = don’t need to eat. 

3. Increased leptin also makes us release more fat from our fat stores and raises the metabolic rate.

  • This is how it’s supposed to work, but if the brain becomes resistant to leptin (doesn’t “see” the leptin in the blood) then this regulatory process won’t work. If the brain doesn’t see the leptin, it won’t know that the fat cells are full and there won’t be any signal to tell the brain that it needs to stop eating.

Low leptin = don’t have enough energy stored = need to eat more and burn less.

4. Leptin resistance makes us fat. 

  • The brain thinks that the body is starving and makes us eat more and we burn less than we should. You will not have enough willpower to resist the urge to eat. Ever wonder when you are trying to lose weight why you are so hungry? You have to get rid of the resistance to leptin issue. You have to allow your brain to see that you have enough fat stored. Too much fructose (sugar) = leptin resistance = you think you're hungry = eat more than you burn = weight gain

5. The increased fructose intake raises your triglycerides in your blood. The triglycerides block the transmission of leptin from the blood to the brain.

More sugar = leptin resistance = poor body fat regulation = you think you need to eat

Bottomline: Sugar (fructose) causes the brain to be leptin resistant. This resistance makes the brain blind to stored fat and makes you think you need to eat. If you want to be able to regulate when you are really hungry stay away from excess fructose. Feeling like you are hungry when you are not is normal if you eat a high fructose diet. Cut out the excess fructose and staying on track with a nutrition plan is much easier.

- DR. HUNTER CHADWICK

 

References:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/05/26/sugar-affects-leptin-signals.aspx

https://authoritynutrition.com/leptin-101/

 

 

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Should You Cut During The Open?

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Should You Cut During The Open?

The world we live in is consumed by competitions in all realms. We spend most of our lives preparing for each event. This time of year is no different for the vast majority of us with the Open right around the corner.  In preparation for any sport, there are a lot of steps that should be taken to be prepared. You have probably gone through some absolute strength programming, power, lactate buffering, and/or an aerobic cycle.  You might have even focused on your nutrition this year to shed some weight, gain some muscle or increase your performance, with a main goal overall to improve your performance going into a competition.

 In following programming or nutritional concepts to get ready for a fitness competition, you must be smart in choosing when to taper to put ourselves in the best situation to go into the competition at 100%. You will need to decrease volume and possibly increase caloric intake. The goal is to put your body the closest to a homeostatic state and reduce the number of stressors on your body.  With too much stress on your body, a decrease in performance is inevitable. There will be a downhill sliding effect on your nervous system whether parasympathetic (daily function system), sympathetic (fight or flight response), or hormonal responses. You could have a reduction in the number of thyroids hormones released, resulting in a decreased metabolism. Additional problems from training stimuli include an influx in parathyroid hormones, prompting an increased level of calcium in the blood. It takes 18 hours to replenish calcium back into the muscle fully, so you can see the detrimental effects of adding another training stimulus under these stressors.

The technical aspect of the process could continue at a steady rate for a while, but I will not bore you with the data.  You need to understand there is a right and wrong time to be on a nutritional cut. For the individuals going into the Open purely for fun, nutritional cutting is perfectly okay. If you are an individual that is going to try it multiple times without any prior experience, you should consider talking to your coach about increasing your macros in order to perform at optimal capacity. The change in cut could vary whether the workouts are extremely aerobic versus anaerobic.  However, the amount of volume or time under stress is not high enough to cause adverse effects in performance.

For the athletes that are trying to make it to the next level (regionals), they should attempt the workout several times prior to the event. We want to ensure that this individual is adequately fed to ensure glycogen stores (energy source) are full and peak performance occurs.  The same concept would be applied if it was a seriously competitive athlete going to regionals. They’ll be competing for three straight days, three workouts per day. Such an active schedule means that the amount of time under tension, intensity, and stressors on the athlete's body heightened during this event. We would need to make sure that they have a wealth of calories to consume so we can make sure their hormonal response is reacting promptly and the nervous system has glycogen for the brain to maintain its purpose as a fast-acting control center. Ultimately, it comes down to what the stressors are and the intensity levels that the athlete will experience.

As you can tell, there are multiple situations that dictate how our nutrition should look throughout the year. The primary goal is to identify your purpose and understand the stressors that come with it. Are you trying to compete at the highest level or are you trying to look better in your body? If you want to look better in your body, then cutting before a one-day competition that lasts 0-20mins it is okay. You just need to understand that performance may be affected if it is a severe cut.  In any other time frame or volume, I would come off a cut and increase your caloric intake so you can enter your competition at maximum capacity if performance is the goal.

Taylor Smith, LMN Nutrition Coach

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Tips To Hit Your Macro Numbers

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Tips To Hit Your Macro Numbers

 It’s a new year and a new you and finally you decide to give this macro thing a try – seems to be working for everyone you know! You are all psyched up and ready to go – and then you get your numbers…. Now what do I do?!  How many carbs are 200g? How much protein is in 150g? That fat number seems kind of low – I probably eat that much for breakfast

My Fitness Pal

Counting is much easier than you would think.  You have a great tool at hand, which is My Fitness Pal (myfitnesspal.com).  It will work it all out for you so you don’t even need a calculator.  Is it full proof? Not always – there may be slight errors in the app’s calculations but if you are unsure you can always run it by your LMN coach (you have one right?).   You can also look at the nutrition labels on the foods you eat to double check the numbers.

The first steps

A recommended first step would be to set up MFP according to how you like to eat.  Under ‘settings’ you can change your meal names and add up to 6 ‘meals’ per day.  So if you like to eat 3 meals and 3 snacks you might label your meals as:

Next, enter in a day of foods that you ate recently.  We are creatures of habit, which means that generally we tend to eat the same foods every day.  Once you have entered everything in you can see how that compares to the numbers you have been asked to use.  I am guessing that for 99% of you, you have hit your numbers exactly and you have nothing to worry about…but for the 1% …oh, so little protein, and so much fat.

Plan Plan Plan

Here’s where the planning comes in: The most successful way to meet your numbers each day is to pre plan what you will eat and drink.  If you try to wing it, you will likely end up with too little of a macro or too much of another by the end of the day.  Enter into MFP your foods for each meal to ensure that by the end of the last meal, you have met your numbers.  

For some people, nutrient timing is a factor – this means you are paying attention to how much of a macronutrient you eat at certain times of the day based on your workout time.  For most of you though (especially newbies) focus on meeting those numbers fairly evenly through your meals.

What to eat?

The table below will give you some ideas on food items that are pretty much exclusive to that particular macro.  We don’t always eat like that of course.  For example, a whole egg would be a source of both protein and fat.  It does however help you to get an idea on how to come up or down on a macro that you know is out of range for you.

Putting it together

Let’s look a few meals that might work for you: 

Breakfast

Eggs are always a great choice for this meal as they are high in protein and quick and easy to make when you are in a hurry.  

You can adjust as needed.  For example, if you need more protein, add in a few extra egg whites or maybe some lean meat.  If you need more carbohydrates, add an extra slice of bread or some potatoes or a glass of juice.

Lunch and Dinner

There are countless options for meals here but we will go with a basic one that can be easily adjusted to suit your needs. Here are the numbers for a grilled chicken salad

Need more carbs? Add extra sweet potato.  Go southwestern and add corn and beans.  Add pasta, rice or have a piece of fruit on the side.

Need more protein?  Use any type of beans or add extra meat.  Egg whites would work too.  Add in low fat cheese or regular (if you have fat to use) or add a bowl of lentil soup on the side.  Except for the meat, and egg whites you will add in carbs and fat in addition.   

Need more fat?  Add some sliced avocado or use a little extra olive oil in your dressing.

Snacks

Snacks are a great way to help meet your numbers without trying to cram everything in to 3 large meals.  It provides a burst of energy perhaps pre or post workout.  Here are some ideas:

 Add food items together to get the numbers you need and adjust portion sizes if you have to.

While not a complete list, this will give you a good start in planning out your meals.  Once you have it laid out, you will be able to put a grocery list together and you are well on your way.  Be sure to include fruits, veggies and whole grains (if tolerated) into your diet to get your micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants) as well as the all-important fiber.

Good Luck!

Tejal Parekh, MS, RDN, LDN                          Registered Dietitian for Lean Machine Nutrition

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Is Salad Affecting Your Weight Loss?

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Is Salad Affecting Your Weight Loss?

Below are 5 common salads that may make you think twice about ordering it next time you are out.

1. California Pizza Kitchen- Full Moroccan-Spiced Chicken Salad

You are probably thinking chicken, a few nuts and some dried fruit sounds pretty healthy?  Think again with how they engineer this delicious salad.

Calories: 1500

Carbs: 80g

Protein: 43g

Fat:  99g

99 grams of fat?! That is more than double what I eat in an entire day as a 135lb semi active female.  Remember this is also just one meal out of the entire day that you have consumed. 

 

2. Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad

This salad has more calories, fat and sugar than if you ate a cheeseburger and egg rolls at this chain!  

Calories 1420

Carbs: 96g

Protein: 39g

Fat: 99

 

3. Chick-fil-A Cobb Salad with Avocado Lime Ranch Dressing

Maybe you are crunched for time and thinking, “well Chick-fil-A is a pretty decent choice especially if I order a salad, right?”  Think again.  While it may not be a dense as the two salads mentioned previously, it still has the potential to blow your fat macros.

Calories: 820

Carbs: 31g

Protein: 41g

Fat 60g

 

4. Romaine & Kale Caesar Salad with Chicken Salad

The infamous delicious Panera.  Oh, how we love thee and feel as if we are making a “healthy” choice to eat here for lunch.  While this salad does have a decent amount of protein and looks pretty healthy stacked up to the previous 3 salads, the truth is that this salad will certainly make it hard for you to stay in your recommended macro parameters the rest of the day.  It is a slippery slope and could easily lead you into going over.  If you are cool with eating egg whites and a banana for Breakfast and dinner, than this is the salad for you!

Calories: 530

Carbs: 13g

Protein: 43g

Fat: 34g

 

5. Wendy’s Cesar Salad

Calories: 790

Carbs: 42g

Protein: 42g

Fat: 51g

Not too shabby for a quick drive through meal that is super affordable, right? Well, to put things in perspective you'd be better off slurping down a medium Frosty and a small soda than ordering this convenient salad-to-go (although, we do not recommend it). 

In a world of convenience and lack of nutritional education it is easy to choose one of the above.  I challenge you to do a quick google search the next time you are eating out to find out exactly what is in the food you are ordering before making a decision.  Knowledge is power.

 

 

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Is Emotional Eating Keeping You From Reaching Your Goals?

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Is Emotional Eating Keeping You From Reaching Your Goals?

Fitness, health and weight loss top the list of New Year’s resolutions in the U.S. And while you may have your diet and fitness program set, you may not give much thought to how your emotions may get in the way of your health goals.

For many, eating is a pleasurable experience. But some people feel powerless over food, using it as a tool to mask unpleasant feelings. If you find yourself polishing off a pint of Ben & Jerry’s after a rough day at work, you may be using the sweet frozen treat as a way to cope, and may be an emotional eater.

Science Behind Food and Feelings

Emotional eating is defined as eating in response to a negative affect, including stress, anger, loneliness, boredom, anxiety or depression. While the exact reason why people turn to food to deal with these emotions isn’t quite clear, it may be due to the “feel good” effect of certain foods. You may already know that eating carbs, specifically sugar, stimulates the release of serotonin, which is a brain chemical associated with a lift in mood.

But the food and feelings connection may be even stronger than just a happier state of mind. According to Jennifer Kromberg in an article from Psychology Today, foods like ice cream and potato chips may have the same affect on your brain as addictive drugs like heroin and cocaine. The sugar and fat in these types of foods releases opioids that soothe and calm your brain, similar to the drugs. These types effects may be why it’s so hard for some people to gain control over their eating.

Unfortunately, while certain foods may help you feel better temporarily, they don’t solve the emotional reason behind your eating.

Are You An Emotional Eater?

Turning to food every once in awhile to boost mood or reward yourself is OK. However, if you reach for a Snickers bar -- or three -- every time you’re upset, lonely, sad, tired or bored, you may be stuck in an emotional eating cycle, which never truly addresses the underlying issue.

So, ask yourself:

  • Do you eat when you’re not hungry?

  • Do you turn to food when you’re stressed?

  • Do you crave certain foods when feeling down?

  • Do you find eating turns your depressed mood into a better mood?

  • Do you use food as a reward?

  • Do you treat food like a friend?

  • Does food make you feel safe?

  • Do you feel out of control when you’re eating?

If you answer yes to many of these question you may be stuck in that cycle and using food as a way to stuff your emotions.

Emotional hunger can be overpowering, but it can’t be satisfied with food. While you may feel good in the moment as you’re crunching through your bag of chips, afterwards you may feel worse, full of shame, guilt and helplessness. As the cycle continues, you lose your ability to manage your feelings in a healthy and helpful manner. Additionally, you may have a harder time managing your weight.

Emotional Hunger vs. Physical Hunger

Don’t beat yourself up if you answered yes to many of the questions above and find yourself feeling more and more powerless over your eating. It’s often hard to distinguish between emotional hunger and physical hunger, according to Helpguide.org. Knowing some of the differences may help you get a better handle over your hunger, and your eating.

Hunger that comes on fast and strong is considered emotional hunger, not physical. While this type of extreme hunger may strike you after several hours of fasting, it’s emotional hunger if the feeling is connected with an almost uncontrollable need for immediate satisfaction. Food cravings, which are often confused with nutritional deficiencies, are also a sign of emotional hunger. And if you find yourself eating an entire box of crackers while mindlessly watching television, you may be eating to fill a void rather than replenish nutritional stores.

And as mentioned above, eating to satisfy emotional hunger is often followed by more negative feelings. You may feel shame from your uncontrollable appetite or guilt for your poor food choices.

Managing Your Emotional Eating

The hard truth is that if you’re unable to manage your emotions without food, every diet you try will fail. In order to gain control over your eating you must understand the emotions that cause you to turn to food and alternative ways to handle with them.

  1. Identify your triggers. The first thing you need to do to better understand your emotional hunger is the root cause. Whether it’s stress from your job, depression or boredom, understanding the mood that leads to the uncontrollable eating is necessary if you want to regain control. Keep a food/mood diary to help you track your emotional triggers and the foods you reach for to manage them.

  2. Find other ways to deal with your emotions. This may be difficult at first, especially when your body is craving that immediate pay off. Exercise is a mood booster and effective at relieving stress. When a craving comes on, go for a walk or hit the stairclimber. If you’re feeling lonely, call a friend or snuggle with your puppy. A long bubble bath may help calm your mind after an exhausting day. Reading a book, coloring, knitting or strumming a guitar may help keep your hands and mind busy to prevent mindless eating out of boredom. Most importantly, give yourself time, and be kind to yourself when you “fall off the wagon.”

  3. Invest in yourself. Read books about emotional eating to help you gain better understanding of your issues. Or watch videos on the subject. Michelle May and Brene Brown both offer books and videos to help you get started.

  4. Be more mindful of your eating. Pay close attention to your hunger cues and any food cravings they may cause. In addition to your food/mood diary, start planning meals and snacks so you know exactly what you’re going to eat throughout the day. Designate one place as the only eating zone in the house. Turn off the TV and enjoy your food and the ones you share it with.

  5. Get your zzzzz's. Lack of sleep adds stress and promotes the production of hormones that increase appetite. Aim for 7 to 8 hours a night to help your body fight off stress-induced hunger.

  6. Clean house. Rid your kitchen of the foods you reach for when you’re trying to suppress your feelings. Do not go food shopping on an empty stomach and avoid the grocery store during emotional distress to prevent unhealthy food purchases.

  7. Eat regularly. Eating a meal or snack every 3 to 4 hours helps keep physical hunger under control. Plus, having meals and snacks at set times may limit mindless eating.

  8. Don’t hesitate to seek out a Psychiatrist. Their job is to help you identify the root of the problem and can really help you take steps into managing your stress or depression in a productive manner.   

Foods That Help Combat Emotions

While there’s no special diet that’s going to cure your emotional appetite, adding certain foods may build up your defense against the stress and emotions that lead to emotional eating.

Turkey. Tryptophan in turkey increases serotonin production, which may help you feel more calm and relaxed.

Cherries. Fresh cherries increase production of melatonin, which makes a great snack choice for night eaters who have difficulty sleeping.

Tea. Green and white tea are rich in L-theanine, which is an amino acid that helps your body combat stress.

Omega-3-rich foods. Omega 3s may help your battle against depression. Walnuts, flaxseed, soybeans, salmon and tuna are rich in this essential fat.

Dark chocolate. Eating 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate everyday for two weeks helped reduce cortisol levels in highly stressed people, according to researchers. But to get the most benefit, make sure your dark chocolate is 70 to 85% cacao. If chocolate is a “trigger” food for you then skip this recommendation.

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Best Ways To Fuel Your Brain

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Best Ways To Fuel Your Brain

You know what you eat affects your weight, your muscles and your health. But you may not give much thought to how it affects your brain. If you’re having issues with concentration, memory or just adding numbers, you may want to add a few brain-boosting foods to your daily diet. These foods also improve overall brain health, which may help prevent or delay the onset of illnesses such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease.

Feeding Your Brain: Macros Count

While your hard-working muscles need carbs for energy, your brain does too. In fact, your brain is one of the largest consumer of the macronutrient. This means about 60% of your daily resting carb needs are used to keep your brain functioning. Most of these carbs provide energy for nerve impulse signaling.

When you don’t eat enough carbs your brain uses fat in the form of ketones instead, which is referred to as ketosis. While ketosis has become a popular way to lose weight, it’s important to note that your brain prefers glucose for fuel over ketones. Plus, some people experience fatigue and confusion when they severely limit carb intake.

 

Food Choice Matters Too

Fatty Fish

Adding fatty fish to your diet twice a week isn’t only good for you heart, but is also good for your brain. DHA, which comes from the omega-3 fats found in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines, is the most abundant fatty acid in your brain. Not getting enough of these essential fats in your diet may affect comprehension and mental health. It’s also good for memory.

While you can get omega-3 fats from plant sources such as flaxseeds and walnuts, these foods aren’t a source of DHA. So if you’re looking for brain food, you have to go with the fish. Or, you can go with fish food, such as algae or seaweed, for your DHA.

Meat

As a source of vitamin B-12 and carnosine, meat is brain food. A poor intake of vitamin B-12 is associated with mental disorders and a reduced brain size. It’s also linked to Alzheimer’s disease. The thing with vitamin B-12 is that it’s only found in animal products like meat. Vegans and vegetarians may have a harder time getting the B vitamin if they don’t supplement. Even slightly decreased levels of B-12 can lead to fatigue, depression and a poor memory.

Carnosine is a combination of the amino acids beta-alanine and histidine. It’s found abundantly in your cells and acts as an antioxidant, offering protection against cell-damaging free radicals. There is a theory that as an antioxidant, carnosine protects the brain against neurodegenerative brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

If you go to the gym, no doubt you’re familiar with creatine, which is a popular supplement among bodybuilders. Not only does this nutrient pump your muscles with energy, but it may also help energize your brain too. If you’re not into supplements, eating meat can help you get what you need.

Cruciferous Veggies

Broccoli and spinach make every best food list, and that includes best foods for your brain. Isothiocyanates, which are antioxidants made from the glucosinolates in these veggies, protect your brain from oxidative damage and may also play a role in preventing neurodegenerative diseases.

Broccoli and spinach make up a class of veggies called cruciferous vegetables, which also includes brussel sprouts, cabbage, bok choy, cauliflower and kale. Aim for one of these nutrient-rich veggies everyday to get all the health benefits these veggies have to offer.

Tomatoes

In a similar fashion to isothiocyanates, lycopene in tomatoes also protects brain cells from free radicals, and may help prevent the onset of dementia. Canned tomatoes and tomato sauce are a more concentrated source of the antioxidant than the fresh varieties. Toss in a little fat such as pignolia nuts or olive oil to improve absorption of the fat-soluble antioxidant.

Berries

Snack on blueberries, blackberries and raspberries to improve memory. Cherries are also good memory-enhancing fruits. The phytochemical -- anthocyanin -- responsible for the deep purple color of these tasty fruits helps bolster brain power.

Almonds

A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found an association between low blood levels of vitamin E and poor memory. If you’re having trouble remembering where you put your keys, you may want to add more almonds to your daily food repertoire to get more vitamin E.

Sunflower seeds, peanuts, peanut butter, wheat germ and spinach can also up your intake of vitamin E.

Turmeric

This spice has a lot of medicinal properties, such as reducing osteoarthritis inflammation and preventing the buildup of plaque in your arteries. In addition to being super healthy for treating and preventing ailments, turmeric is also good for your brain. Turmeric not only has antioxidant and antiinflammatory properties, but also improves circulation to the brain.

Turmeric may be best known as the spice responsible for the yellow color of your favorite curry. But you don’t have to limit your use of this spice to curry. Add it to soup, rice, stir fries or make something called turmeric milk, which is a popular Indian drink made with warm milk, turmeric, ginger, cloves, cardamom and a few other spices and sweetened with honey.

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Getting Through the Holidays Without Busting Your Buttons

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Getting Through the Holidays Without Busting Your Buttons

No doubt, October 31st to December 31st is a very busy time for many people. You’ve got parties and shopping, more parties and a whole lot of family and friend time. While these festivities may make you want to hang up your gym shoes and put MyFitnessPal away, this is the MOST important time to stick to your healthy routine. Not only does it limit the possibility of holiday weight-gain, but also may help you better manage holiday stress.

For the record, most people gain a pound or two during this time of the year and never lose it.  This means your yearly weight gain cycle could be directly related to the Holidays and we are going to help you prevent that this year!

Don’t Turn the Holiday Season into an Off-Season

All those good habits you’ve been working on all year shouldn’t be abandoned just because you’re going to be tempted by the holiday cookies from your neighbor or the cocktails you plan on enjoying at the office party. Instead of saying the heck with it, work out as often as possible and stick to your meal plan most days of the week. Make it a measurable goal. For example, plan to workout more days than you rest every week and apply the 80/20 rule with hitting your macros. It is best to write these goals down. Mirror sticky notes are the best :) People who put their goals in writing are more likely to accomplish them.

Plan Ahead and Save Your Macros

If you’re headed to a party and want to indulge, save your macros. As long as it fits your plan, you’re A-OK. But don’t skip meals. Not eating all day may set you up for failure leaving you way too hungry and lead to overindulging. Instead, fill up on lean proteins and veggies such as a veggie omelet for breakfast and a salad (low fat dressing) with tuna at lunch. This leaves you with plenty of carbs and fat to satisfy your holiday eating needs. Protein and veggies help you feel and stay full without costing you too many of your macros, while also limiting the risk of eating too much.

Healthy Party Food Choices

While it’s OK to indulge at a party, you don’t have to abandon your healthy food choices all together. If it’s a party at a friends house, offer to bring a dish. That way you’ll have at least one thing that fits your plan. Bring roasted veggies, a crudite platter, bruschetta, shrimp cocktail, baked apples or a crockpot of your favorite meat.

If it’s a catered party, you may have to make do with what’s available. Load up on healthy proteins such as chicken or fish and lots of veggies. Baked sweet and white potatoes make a healthy low fat carb. Rice, mashed potatoes and stuffing are OK, but will cost you some fat. Keep your macros in order by keeping your portions reasonable. A closed fist is equal to a portion of starch and veggies, while the palm of your hand is equal to 3 ounces of meat.

Healthier Party Drinks

The adult beverages at holiday parties may be your biggest obstacle. Not only do they cost you some of your macros, but may increase appetite and lower inhibition leading to poor food choices. Like your food choices, to win the battle you must plan ahead by saving your macros and not drinking on an empty stomach.

To limit macro spending, be smart about your cocktail choices. Wine and light beer make good options. If you’re a liquor drinker, consider your favorite on the rocks, with soda or water. 

Tips to Help You Stay on Track

In addition to all the suggestions above, try the following to help you get through the holiday season without having to go up a clothing size:

  • Don’t skip meals, EVER. Especially with plates of cookies around every corner. You’ll be less likely to have the desire to grab one if your belly is full.

  • Drink lots and lots of water. Water not only fills you up, but staying adequately hydrated may limit fluid retention from the extra carbs and salt.

  • Brush your teeth or chew a stick of gum after you’ve eaten to prevent mindless picking.

  • At a party, stand far away from the food table and hold a glass of water or seltzer to keep at least one hand occupied to make it a little more difficult to grab from the appetizer trays.

  • If you’re having a hard time hitting the gym due to time constraints, find other ways to fit in activity. Develop a 30-minute at-home workout with burpees, squats, lunges, push-ups and sit-ups. Or, start a lunch walking group, take the stairs or walk an extra lap at the mall carrying all your bags.

  • Stress is a major issue during the holidays, which can lead to comfort eating. In addition to sticking with your exercise plan, don’t forget to schedule downtime for yourself. Meditate, journal, pray, read a book or whatever else tickles your fancy. 

 

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Cardio vs. Resistance Training: Relative to Weight Loss

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Cardio vs. Resistance Training: Relative to Weight Loss

A hot topic of discussion in the fitness industry is whether Cardio or Resistance Training is better for weight loss. You might think it’s an easy choice. Cardio is obviously designed to help you lose weight while resistance training is designed to help you get stronger. The reality is both cardio and resistance training have different benefits. However, there are a lot of factors that determine which option is best for weight loss. When referring to weight loss itself, the deviation in calories consumed versus calories burned will always trump other factors. At the end of the day, you want to be at a caloric deficit no matter which training method you pursue. For example, if you're aiming to lose 1lb a week then you need to make sure by the end of each day you are at a 500 kcal deficit. Just for reference, a pound of fat equals 3500kcals. 

No matter which training method you pursue calories are being burned during both forms of exercise. Your body even continues to burn calories after the workout is over. Having the ability to burn calories during and post workout becomes the most intriguing difference between the two methodologies. Cardio is going to burn more calories than resistance training in most cases; however, this does not carry over to the post workout phase. While doing cardio training, your heart rate consistently operates at a max rate of 60-90% for an extended period of time.  Resulting in your body burning fat as energy through your aerobic energy system. This holds true as long as it is performed for an extended period of time. On the other hand, your heart rate is going to fluctuate a lot during resistance training. Your heart rate will become elevated but also have certain periods when your heart rate will drop significantly. The fluctuation in heart rate is based on the criteria for rest breaks which is directly dependent on the volume and resistance being performed. The shorter the rest break and the higher you can sustain your elevated heart rate, the closer you will approach caloric deficit burned during cardio. Reaching this caloric deficit, is not always an option during resistance training, due to many different lifting principles. Such alternating lifting principals makes it harder to hit your caloric deficit goals during lifting sessions. The more oxygen you consume the more calories you burn, which is why most people assume that cardio is superior to resistance training regarding weight loss. 

The area where the data begins to get skewed is in the effects of post-training. During post exercise, our body goes through a state called Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). EPOC is the amount of oxygen required to return your body to normal resting levels of metabolic functions, also known as homeostasis. It is the process of how your body continues to burn calories after training. During a training period, our body needs energy. We can obtain that energy through different energy system pathways in our body. They are commonly classified as aerobic and anaerobic pathways. When you are performing an aerobic exercise ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is produced by the amount of oxygen you consume. Anaerobic pathways have stored energy in the form of glycogen stores. When you first start an exercise your body naturally uses your anaerobic pathways until it can adequately produce enough ATPs for aerobic pathways. Your body will continue to use the aerobic pathways until the intensity becomes too high. This will result in inadequate oxygen consumption to produce adequate amounts of ATP. So, your body will convert back to anaerobic pathways. Remember, anaerobic pathways have stored energy that can be depleted. Once the stored energy is depleted, the increased capacity to perform will drop and you will be able to return to an aerobic state. The fact that you have depleted your anaerobic pathways is what allows your body to go into the state called EPOC. It allows your body to consume excess oxygen to produce ATP. That ATP will then be stored in your anaerobic pathways. 

The important takeaway is that when you are performing resistance training workouts your body is mainly in an anaerobic state. You are burning through all of your stored energy. With resistance training, your body burns calories for up to 36 hours post training. With traditional cardio training, you only burn an additional 50-100 calories post training. Yes, you will burn more calories during the cardio sessions, but with resistance training, the calories burned during and the 36 hours post training will equate to more calories burned overall. I am not stating just throw cardio out the window., because I am not. It has great effects on our cardiorespiratory system. Both cardio and resistance training have their benefits, just in different ways. 

-Taylor Smith, LMN Coach

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The Truth About Diet Pills

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The Truth About Diet Pills

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just pop a pill and dramatically lose all those unwanted pounds. That’s what many brands of over-the-counter diet pills have you believe. That weight loss is as easy as popping a pill. However, while there is some evidence that certain ingredients found in diet pills may help you lose a little bit of weight, nothing is going to help you win the battle of the bulge better than proper diet and exercise. Plus, there’s a potential risk to your health when you take these types of supplements.

 

Diet pills often contain a list of active ingredients that work to:

  • Suppress appetite

  • Increase urination (so you’re losing water weight, not fat)

  • Increase bowel movements (see above)

  • Stimulate the central nervous system

 

Unfortunately, there haven’t been many studies on the diet pills found at your local pharmacy or health food store, and the ones that claim to have studies are biased and not found in peer-reviewed scientific journals. With that being said, it’s not really known if combining these ingredients really helps burn fat, improve energy or promote weight loss like the makers claim.

Knowing a little about some of the more common ingredients found in diet pills may help you better understand how they ended up in these supplements and why you may want to reconsider spending your money on these products.

 

Caffeine:

Caffeine is added to many diet pills to boost metabolism. You may find it listed as caffeine or anhydrous caffeine. Guarana, yerba mate and kola nut are also sources of caffeine in diet pills. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, caffeine may help you lose some weight or prevent weight gain by slightly raising your metabolism and helping your body better use fat for energy. However, if you’re a regular coffee drinker, caffeine may not do you much good due to you tolerance to the stimulant.

Safety concerns: Caffeine is considered safe if you limit yourself to about 400 milligrams a day, roughly the amount found in 4 cups of coffee. If you’re taking diet pills and drinking your regular caffeinated beverages, you may experience nausea, the jitters, nervousness, agitation or sleeplessness. Caffeine overdose is also a risk, which can lead to difficulty breathing, diarrhea, hallucinations or an irregular heartbeat.

 

Cascara Sagrada:

Cascara is an over-the counter remedy for constipation. It’s also touted as a tool for weight loss, and in addition to diet pills, is a common ingredient in diet teas. As a natural laxative, cascara helps you lose water weight, but won’t lead to long-lasting weight loss.

Safety concerns: When used as a treatment for constipation, cascara is considered safe. However, when taken as a weight loss supplement over a long period of time can lead to electrolyte imbalance or dependence. According to the National Institute of Health, cascara can damage the liver if taken in large amounts or longer than recommended (more than one week).  You are also likely to bounce back to a higher weight after you get back to your regular schedule.

 

Conjugated Linoleic Acid:

Found naturally in beef and dairy products, CLA has been shown to help animals lose fat, but the same hasn’t been seen in humans.

Safety concerns: It seems that CLA is relatively safe, although some people experience diarrhea, constipation or abdominal pain. Although the reports are mixed, CLA may lower HDL cholesterol, which is the good cholesterol you want to go up, not down.

 

Green Coffee Bean Extract:

You may recall the popularity of this weight loss gem after Dr. Oz touted it as an almost weight loss miracle. Shorty thereafter, it was revealed that the studies he used we’re flawed and sponsored by makers of these supplements. While the studies may have been a little biased, there is some evidence the green coffee bean extract helps prevent the accumulation of fat and keeps blood sugar levels balanced. However, you might want to wait for more clinical studies before you dump all your weight loss efforts into these pills.

Safety concerns: Green coffee bean extract is a source of caffeine, so you may experience some of the symptoms noted above with caffeine. Other adverse effects include headaches and urinary tract infections. Overall, though, not enough is known about green coffee bean extract to determine its safety with regular consumption.

 

Green Tea:

Green tea has been a hot weight loss ingredient for a number of years. The phytochemicals and caffeine in the tea seem to give your metabolism a bit of a boost and help turn you body into a better fat-burning machine. However, while there does seem to be some metabolic benefit to green tea, most studies indicate that the amount of weight lost is minuscule and not really enough to make a big impact. To save money and get all the benefits that green tea has to offer -- phytochemicals -- drink the tea instead of popping a pill.

Safety concerns: Your safe drinking the tea, unless you’re taking blood thinners that restrict vitamin K intake. As for pills with green tea extract, people have experienced headaches, nausea, constipation, tummy trouble and an increase in blood pressure.

 

Garcinia Cambogia:

According to Amazon, this is one of the most popular weight loss supplements. Garcinia cambogia is an exotic fruit with high amounts of hydroxycitric acid or HCA, which is linked to fat burning and appetite suppression. Unfortunately, these effects don’t seem to help much with weight loss. A 2011 meta-analysis that included 12 randomized studies involving HCA found that the supplement wasn’t any better than a placebo in helping to promote weight loss.

Safety concerns: Most studies on garcinia cambogia have been short, so safety isn’t well known. However, common complaints include headaches, nausea, upper respiratory infection and GI distress.

 

Bottom Line

Even the FDA warns against miracle weight loss pills, expressing concerns of tainted products and the health effects of some of the ingredients. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Making better food choices and an effort to be more active is tough for everyone, but if you’re serious about losing weight and keeping it off, it’s the best way to go.

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Top 10 Protein Sources for Vegetarians and Vegans

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Top 10 Protein Sources for Vegetarians and Vegans

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I always remember the scene from my Big Fat Greek Wedding: [upon learning Ian is a vegetarian] ‘what do you mean, he don't eat no meat?! ‘[The entire room stops, in shock. We hear plates break and there are gasps.] ...’That’s okay, that's okay. I make lamb’.

For the carnivores out there the concept of no meat is a tough one to chew on and many of you might have been told that Crossfit or other high intensity workouts might not be possible without it.  At the very least, you’ll just about manage.  

Of course this is not true at all: vegetarians and vegans can do extremely well.  The challenge: getting enough protein.  If you are counting macros especially you will find out that reaching your protein numbers is the hardest macro to hit.  Impossible? Not at all – you just need a little extra planning – here are some high protein options to help you reach your goals:

1. Wildwood Super firm Tofu

 

One 20oz container has about 80g protein.  If you can eat a 5oz portion that an easy 20g.

2. Eggs

For those that do eat eggs, these are not only a great source of protein but also contain a huge array of vitamins and minerals.  At 6g of protein per egg it is one of the cheapest good quality proteins out there.  To limit the fat you can combine extra whites with maybe 1 or 2 whole eggs (the yolks are where most of the nutrients are but also where the fat and cholesterol stay).

2 whole eggs plus 2 whites will give you about 20g protein.

3. Veggie Chilli

Most versions of meatless chili will include at least 2-3 different types of beans, which is what really pushes the protein up as beans contain about 7g protein per half cup. 

You can search on your favorite food websites for a recipe you like – this one from Cooking Light uses cannellini and kidney beans and will get you 15g of protein per serving.

Find the recipe at:

http://www.cookinglight.com/food/vegetarian/vegetarian-chili-recipes

The great thing about these meals is that you can make large batches and freeze them!

4. Greek Yogurt

  This type is much higher in protein than regular yogurt because it is strained to removed the whey resulting in a much thicker yogurt – it can be a little tart in flavor but you can always add a touch of honey and other spices like cinnamon or nutmeg or even a pumpkin spice blend to the plain variety to make it your own.  Non-fat is also available which is great for those who don’t have much fat macros to spare!

1 cup of Greek yogurt will provide approximately 22g protein

5. Cottage Cheese

I personally like cottage cheese with salads but a lot of people will eat it with fruit and of course a search for cottage cheese recipes will give you a 101 different ways you use this stuff – at 15g protein per half cup you cant go wrong with this food.

6. Pea Protein

Depending on what type of vegetarian you are, there are many protein supplement choices on the market.  Pea protein is a vegan option and 1 serving will give you anywhere from 25-30g protein depending on what you pick.  Some people don’t like supplements but I think they can be an easy way to add some protein to your diet especially if you’re on the go and just don’t have the time or energy.

Vega is a vegan company that has many varieties of supplements on the market.  You can check them out at myvega.com

You can find their products at your local grocery store, or online and there are many other brands available too.  Try a few if you can in smaller quantities to find you like before you buy the giant tub! You know we’ve all done that..

7. High Protein Pasta

Yes wheat is ok and carbs are ok – don’t make them the center of your diet but a little pasta is not going to turn you into a pumpkin or some other well rounded object. Most of these types of pasta have protein sources from lentils or chickpeas or another type of bean. Barilla Plus Pasta can be found at most stores and contains about 17g protein per 3.5oz portion.

For non-wheat varieties try Explore Asian Fettuccine (made from edamame and mung beans).  20g protein per 1.75oz portion.

8. Milk

Whether you drink regular dairy milk or the non-dairy varieties, this is a great source of protein that many people forget about.  2 cups per day of most varieties will provide you a nice amount of this macro and it’s easy to get in. 

2 cups provide:

Regular milk: 16g

Soymilk: 16g

Silk protein plant milk: 16g (fortified with pea protein)

(Almond milk and cashew milk not included due to lack of protein)

9. Lentils

We could devote an entire blog to lentils as there are so many varieties and countless ways to cook these nutrient powerhouses.  Foodnetwork.com actually has 225 ways for you: http://www.foodnetwork.com/topics/lentil.html

 

Any way you cook them 1 cup of most lentils will get you 18g protein.  A decent amount in addition to countless other nutrients.  If you’ve never cooked them before give them a try – they are not as complicated as you might think they are and they taste great.

10. Hemp Seeds

As far as vegan sources of protein go, hemp seeds are one of the best and complete proteins.  They are seriously nutritious and a little bit goes a long way – just 3 tablespoons will give you 10g protein and can be easily thrown on top of your yogurt, oatmeal, smoothies, shakes or salads.  It’s so easy and you can buy a big bag and leave it in you fridge (keeps it fresh).

Tejal Parekh, MS, RDN, LDN                                 Registered Dietitian                               Lean Machine Nutrition

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5 Ways To Rid Of Fat Days

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5 Ways To Rid Of Fat Days

1. Count your macros.  I know I am biased because I own a macro company but the truth is, I wouldn’t have started it if I didn’t believe in it 100% as the best possible solution to controlling your nutrition.

2. Workout Regularly.  I don’t need to expand on this.  We all know that 3-5 days of some sort of exercise is going to help you feel better mentally and physically.

3. Less sodium.  Actually, sometimes I think this is a myth because after counting macros I have actually increased my sodium intake and have had close to zero "fat days"!  I also lessened eating out to slim to none so that could also be why. If you eat out then you can’t control how your food is prepared so I strongly encourage you to leave eating out for rare special occasions.   When you are working out and eating the proper portion of carbs/protein/fat then your body metabolizes the food well and sodium doesn’t seem to affect the body as much.  With that said, it does help to add in a banana because you want a 2:1 ratio of potassium:sodium to ensure proper body function. Potassium helps conduct nerve impulses and muscle contractions, regulates the flow of fluids and nutrients, and helps keep your blood pressure in check—partly by countering the effects of sodium.  The ratio between these two micronutrients is more important than the amount you consume of these nutrients standing alone.  I used to avoid bananas because of the sugar but now I enjoy them daily since I can make them fit my macros :)

4. Hydration!  Drink more water or any hydrating source for that matter.  Whether it is juice, gatorade, sparkling water, or the best source, good ole’ classic H20 you need to be consuming 1oz per body weight per day.  Alcohol and soda don’t count, also known as “pop” where I am from ;).  I know what you are thinking, but those have so much sugar and will make me fat.  Well, yes if you are consuming too many carbs and not working out this can be true.  If you are working out regularly and monitoring your carb intake to somewhere around 35-45% of total calories than you should be fine.  Just make sure it fits your macros and you will be ok. If you think that is preposterous, no problem…. just drink enough water and then we are on the same page. H20 is my drink of choice anyways:) 

5. Sleep!  This is actually #1 in my book.  So many Americans skimp on sleep and no wonder people are angry, aging quickly, depressed, anxious, tired and fat.  If you don’t get enough sleep your body cannot recover or function as designed which will create more problems than you want to deal with.  Cortisol tends to go through the roof which makes it tough to lose fat.  This is the easiest fix in my opinion if you make it a priority (unless you are a new mom of course and in that case, you are doing great!!) 

For all the people who love controversy...As a disclaimer I realize I am not fat but whether you are 100lbs or 300lbs most of us can relate to what is commonly known as "fat days".

Sports Bra: "The Tiffany" found at www.TheChestee.com *I am not a Registered Dietician and these tips are just suggestions so please consult your doctor before implementing any supplements or adding anything new into your diet. 

Sports Bra: "The Tiffany" found at www.TheChestee.com

*I am not a Registered Dietician and these tips are just suggestions so please consult your doctor before implementing any supplements or adding anything new into your diet. 

 

Lindsey Love Jenks

CEO Lean Machine Nutrition

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5 Reasons Why Alcohol May be Sabotaging Your Fat Loss

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5 Reasons Why Alcohol May be Sabotaging Your Fat Loss

 

The weekend is here and you're ready to party it up like you do every Friday and Saturday night with your friends. After all, you abstain all week so you can really enjoy those cocktails. But if you're trying to lose fat, training for your next CrossFit competition, or just trying to improve your workouts at the gym, you may want to think twice.

There’s nothing wrong with having a few adult beverages here and there, but if you drink every weekend, it may be the reason you’re having such a hard time dropping those last 10 pounds or shaving those seconds off your “Hellen” time.

And here’s why:

  1.   Alcohol Stops Your Body From Burning Fat

While you may enjoy that buzz you get after those first few sips of your favorite cocktail, your body doesn’t. See, your body views alcohol as toxic and works very hard at trying to get rid of it. Your liver is responsible for burning fat and carbs for energy. Your liver is also responsible for helping your body get rid of alcohol. Carb and fat metabolism comes to a complete halt when your liver is processing alcohol. That means, no fat burning.

While you may have heard that this is the number one reason you should avoid drinking on a diet, alcohol doesn’t stop fat-burning for very long. Just long enough to get rid of the alcohol which will be dependent on how much you drink. So, while alcohol does impede fat-burning, it isn’t the number one reason it’s making it hard for you to reach your goals.

   2.    Adds Unnecessary Calories

The lack of weight loss may have more to do with calories. As you may have guessed, alcohol, unlike carbs, fat and protein, isn’t an essential nutrient. But it is a source of calories, with 7 calories per gram. Compare that to 4 calories per gram of carbs or protein and 9 calories per gram of fat.

How does that translate into a drink?

1.5 ounces of vodka, rum, gin or tequila: 100 calories

12 ounces of regular beer: 150 calories

12 ounces of light beer: 100 calories

4 ounces of wine: 120 to 125 calories

4 ounces of champagne: 85 calories

Martini: 120 to 150 calories

Mojito: 150 calories

Pina colada: 500 calories

Margarita (4 ounces): 170 calories

 

Keep in mind that some of us are not pouring 4oz of anything and we find the biggest wine glass or mug in our house and consider it “one glass”.  You aren’t alone, most of us have been there.  Knowing the appropriate serving size can surprise many!  You may think you are only having 120 calories but when you measure the amount you poured it could be closer to 2 servings and having two glasses means 480 calories in just your casual “glass” or two of wine.  

Of course with wine, beer and mixed drinks some of those calories come from carbs. In any event, all calories count no matter where they come from. And if you didn’t make adjustments to your diet to fit in those drinks or stopped counting after your second or third cocktail, those extra calories quickly add up.  

 

   3.    Lowers Your Inhibitions

All week, you’re so controlled. Eating exactly as your plan dictates. All your fruits and veggies, healthy proteins and the right grains. But after a few drinks, you may say the heck with it and veer off course. While it can be OK to eat pizza or ice cream when you’re dieting , if this happens every Friday and Saturday night (and maybe Thursday after happy hour and Sunday brunch) you may have just thrown all that control and hard work right out the window.

 

   4.    Appetite Stimulant

It’s not just that alcohol may lead to poor food choices, but it also may cause you to overeat. I’m sure you’ve noticed a kick in your appetite after you’ve had a few drinks. This is partly due to low blood sugar, which occurs because your body is so busy breaking down alcohol it’s not releasing sugar into your blood. So in addition to your cheeseburger and fries, you may also polish off a plate of nachos and end the night with a piece of chocolate cake to try to satisfy your insatiable hunger.

 

   5.    Post-Morning Hangover

You know the feeling. Headache. Severe thirst. Groggy. And hungry. Oh, so hungry. Low blood sugar plus dehydration = ravenous appetite. Nothing cures a night out better than a big greasy breakfast at your favorite diner. And, for some of you, that meal may just kickstart a day spent eating to help cure the hangover and the appetite.

How to Enjoy Adult Beverages on Your Plan

  • Just like your diet, you need to control the amount of alcohol you drink. Limit yourself accordingly. For example, one to two drinks a week, making adjustments to your diet plan to fit in your beverage. Moderation will always be your best friend.

  • Keep a lid on calories with lower calorie drinks such as a champaign, light beer or “skinny” drinks such as tequila and fresh lime juice or vodka and soda. Be wary that some drinks have more than one shot and can add up fast!!

  • Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Food not only helps prevent low blood sugar, and all the diet problems that come with it, but may also delay the effects alcohol has on your body.


For the record, it’s generally recommended that women should have no more than one drink a day and men no more than two INCLUDING weekends.  Depending on your goals and how serious you are about fat loss or being a competitive athlete, your answer may be limiting alcohol all together.  The choice is yours!

 

Here is a great tool for calculating your drinks:

http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/tools/Calculators/calorie-calculator.aspx

 

 

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A Games Athlete Nutrition Plan Broken Down, Take A Peek.

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A Games Athlete Nutrition Plan Broken Down, Take A Peek.

Has anyone ever wondered what a high level athlete’s nutrition looks like on competition day? Well with the 2016 Games starting today here is your chance. We have the privilege of working with Brittani Russel on Team The CrossFit Squad. With the overwhelming number of events and lack of equipment for food prep, your nutrient timing and planning has to be on point. As you can see below everything is broken down from the moment she wakes until she passes out after each grueling day. Brittani will be staying in a hotel so she does not have access to a stove to cook proper meals. We have to take that into consideration when we are writing her nutrition plan. We are looking for items that are easily accessed and take minimum amount of prep.  When it comes to carbohydrates, baby food and carbohydrates supplements are some good substitutions. The carbs are spread out throughout her plan based on whether or not they are simple or complex carbs. We have an even distribution of protein and are consuming fats away from workouts due to the fact they slow down carbohydrate absorption. The goal is to keep her fueled and ready for every workout.

 

Games Week Nutrition Plan Brittani Russel

Taylor Smith, LMN Coach

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Why Plant Based Foods Are Essential To Your Diet

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Why Plant Based Foods Are Essential To Your Diet

For many, the idea of moving to a flexible dieting program like counting macro’s can be a little daunting especially if you’ve been used to following restrictive diets like low carb, for example.  The focus is on protein and not much else.  While this nutrient is certainly important for muscle growth, we also need to look at other foods like plant based foods to get a wide range of other nutrients that we can’t get from animal foods.

What are plant-based foods?

Any food that comes from the ground is considered a plant-based food.  This includes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (such as wheat, barley, rye, quinoa), herbs, spices, beans and legumes. 

Why are they important?

It’s these foods that have been found to lower our risk of diseases such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, macular degeneration and cancer. These are just a few to say the least.

The Science:

What makes these foods so special? The unique anti-inflammatory and protective mechanism is due to the phytochemicals and antioxidants present in the plants. 

Phytochemicals help protect our body from damage caused by inflammation.  The inflammatory chemicals we put in our body come from things like processed foods, excess sugar, smoking, and radiation.  In short, they fight disease from the inside out. There are over 10,000 phytochemicals to date and this number continues to grow as the research grows. Some well know phytochemicals are lycopene in tomatoes, isoflavones in soy, beta-carotene in carrots, and polyphenols in tea and grapes.

Antioxidants are phytochemicals but also vitamins and other nutrients that help protect the body from the damaging effects of free radicals (molecules that can damage healthy cells).  Herbs with the highest antioxidant levels include oregano, sage, clove, allspice and cinnamon. Some well know antioxidants are lutein in red peppers and corn, vitamins A (beta carotene), C and E. 

Phytochemicals and antioxidants are what provide most plant foods with their unique colors.  In addition, fruits, vegetables and whole grains are high in fiber – another disease fighting compound that many of us are lacking. Fiber is great at helping to keep us fuller for longer – a bonus for those trying to control/lose weight.

How much to eat?

General recommendations are to aim for 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.  A serving is ½ cup 100% fruit/vegetable juice; ½ cup cooked vegetables; a medium size piece of fruit; ¼ cup dried fruit or ½ cup cooked beans.

   Of particular interest

Divided into their categories, a few plant foods listed here tested a little higher in antioxidants than some others, although all are important contributors to your diet:

Spices: cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, cumin                              

Herbs: oregano, parsley, basil, sage, rosemary

Fruits: acai, cranberries, elderberries, blackberries, prunes, plums, pomegranate

Vegetables/Other Plants: garlic, ginger, artichokes, kale, aloe vera

Beans/Legumes: cocoa powder, black beans, kidney beans, green lentils

Here are 10 easy tips to get the most from your diet:

  1. Include at least a serving of fruits/vegetables with each meal and 1 with each snack.  If you eat at least 3 meals and 2 snacks daily, you will have reached your goal (If you need to watch your carbs, go for low carb veggies)
  2. Juicing or buying 100% fruit/vegetable juices is a great way to boost your phytochemical levels.  Just be careful to limit your intake to no more than 2 (4oz.) servings per day as too much can provide excess sugar and juices often lack the all-important fiber.
  3. Drink fresh brewed tea instead of iced/bottled tea.  Allow your tea bag or loose tea to steep in boiling water for at least 3-5 minutes to maximize its antioxidant potential.
  4. Buy or borrow vegetarian cookbooks      (just listen…).  This will give you so many ideas on how to incorporate plant foods into your diet in fun and different ways.  After a while, salads and steamed veggies can get boring – and yes, you can always add some meat/fish to the dish!
  5. Experiment with a variety of spices and herbs for a true boost in phytochemicals.  Add a pinch of cinnamon to your morning oats or ½ teaspoon of turmeric to your chili.  Use cilantro in your Mexican meals or tear up some fresh basil with your pasta.  
  6. Go with convenience.  Buy no chop veggies such as baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, or pre cut celery sticks to encourage you to snack healthily during the day.  
  7. Substitute ranch dressing for hummus for a more nutritious dip. Or make your own dips using yogurt, garlic and herbs/spices for a low fat, less processed, version!
  8. Dark leafy greens such as spinach and romaine lettuce have much more vitamins and antioxidants than iceberg lettuce.  Make an easy switch for a big boost.
  9. Swear to eat the fruit, the whole fruit! Don’t waste any part of a fruit or vegetable.  For example, many of us discard the albedo, or the white part of citrus fruits.  An extremely nutrient rich piece that should not be missed.  We also throw away broccoli stalks and leaves eating only the florets (heads).  These parts of the vegetable contain fiber and phytochemicals.  Save your money and your nutrients by eating every piece nature gave.
  10. Remember eating clean means eating less processed – Eat as close to the ground as possible and you can’t go wrong. (Oh, don’t be so literal – you know what I mean)

 

Tejal Parekh, MS, RDN, LDN            Registered Dietitian                               Lean Machine Nutrition

 

 

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Top 10 Tips On How To Hit Your Macros While Traveling!

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Top 10 Tips On How To Hit Your Macros While Traveling!

Whether it’s a weekend trip to the beach or a weeklong trip to Anywheresville, getting away is always a much-needed break.  If you are counting your macro’s and don’t really want stray too far off your numbers, here are some tips to help you stay on track while you go off the beaten path.

1. Be prepared: Whether you’re at the airport or hotel, chances are high protein options are going to be pretty limited.  Keep a few items such as these in your suitcase:

  • Protein Bars: Bars like Quest have 20g of whey protein and are low in sugar unlike many other options on the market.  Small and portable make the perfect travel companion.  
  • Protein Shakes: If you normally use the big containers, take your scoop and transfer some powder to a smaller container or Ziploc bag.  Don’t forget a shaker – find the ice machine on your hotel floor and you’ve got perfect set up for some high quality protein.

 

  

  • Another high protein PB packet is this:
  At 11g protein in just over 1oz this is a great option when on the road.  Available at buffbake.com

 

At 11g protein in just over 1oz this is a great option when on the road.  Available at buffbake.com

  

  • At 20g protein, Starkist’s lunch kit is not a bad option especially if you know you might be stuck at the airport for a while.  

2.  For longer trips, get a room with a kitchenette: Hotels such as Residence Inn come with all the tools, a flexible dieter needs – a fridge, a stove and a microwave.  This is the perfect set up to make a few quick meals that won’t throw your numbers off completely.  Of course, you’ll be eating out too but a good breakfast and a few snacks don’t hurt – Milk, boiled eggs, Greek yogurt, cheese sticks, cottage cheese and even some chicken/turkey slices from a deli are perfect proteins.

3. Find restaurants with nutrition information.  If you are really trying to stick to your numbers, many chains will have their nutrition information on their websites – know before you go and you can plug it into MFP to see how it will work for you.  If you know where you’re going beforehand, you can enter that information early and you’ll know how much of your macros are remaining for you to use for the rest of the day.

4. Don’t go to a restaurant hungry:  If your time zones and eating habits are out of sync, you’ll likely end up with out of the norm eating too –stick to a plan of having something every 3-4 hours and you wont find yourself super hungry at any one time.  Have a small high protein snack before you go out to eat and that will prevent you from binging on the bread or buckets of chips!

5. Alcohol: Yes its delicious and refreshing and usually has way too many calories – watch how many drinks you have in a day and go for diet or low sugar mixers – For example, a rum and diet coke would have less calories and you can add a little extra of the mixer to help your drink go further.  Alternate your drinks with a glass of water and you’ll find you drink a lot less in one evening than you would have done. Alcohol also boosts your appetite, so it’s one ‘macro’ that’s worth watching. 

6. Choose Wisely: By this, I mean some times common sense prevails– If you know your carbs and fat need to be controlled, going to a pizza place is probably not going to work for you – go for the grilled lean meats, add steamed vegetables and a small side of potatoes.  Choose where you want to use your calories – if you’d like a little dessert, skip the wine or cocktails.  If you really want the booze, skip the sweets.

7. Buffets aren’t all bad: Sometimes traveling with large groups means you don’t always get your choice on where to eat – if the vote is for that all you can eat smorgasbord, don’t fret – it can actually work in your favor.  If you’ve been counting macro’s for a while, chances are you’ll know what a plate of food should like for you – while you wont be able to weigh or measure anything, you’ll be able to pick and choose your proteins and carbs.  Watch the dressings, cream sauces, breads and butters and once you’ve made your plate, don’t go back for more (I know, not a good use of your buffet dollars but your waistline will thank you).

8. Have Gym, Will Travel: Vacation is a great time to relax but if you can, still make time for a few short workouts during your travels – hotel gyms are a good option as are local gyms – those with memberships to Crossfit for example, will usually be able to work out at a local branch (call ahead first).

9. Don’t stress: If you are in a situation where you just can't keep control of your macros don’t think it’s the end of the world – You are on vacation after all and this is not your new normal diet so relax and enjoy the local foods and drinks – unless you’re in training for a competition. Moderation is your best friend in this scenario. 

10. Log! : If you’re going to track while traveling, you’ll need an app like My Fitness Pal downloaded onto your mobile device – don’t wait until you get home at night to log everything because chances are you wont remember it all and you also won’t know how much of each macro you have left after each meal.  That’s important because by dinnertime, you’ll want to know how much macro ‘cash’ you have left to spend!

Tejal Parekh, MS, RDN, LDN                                      Registered Dietitian for Lean Machine Nutrition

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25 Ways To Hit Your Protein Goals

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25 Ways To Hit Your Protein Goals

High protein foods to help meet those macros!

When it comes to counting macro’s, protein can be a challenge for many especially if you are new to the process and not used to the extra muscle building nutrient your body needs! But need it we do…

Protein is composed of a series a building blocks we call amino acids – there are over 20 different types of amino acids that can be combined to create a protein. By eating a variety of protein foods we can obtain all the amino acids our body needs to grow, repair, and perform a variety of functions including: 

  • Building hair and nails
  • Carrying oxygen in your blood to all the parts of your body
  • Carrying messages to and from your brain via nerve cells
  • Building muscle
  • Digesting food
  • Building antibodies that help defend the body against viruses and bacteria

High protein foods (that are relatively unprocessed) also help to keep us full, which in turn, helps with that whole weight control/weight loss thing we all have such an easy time with…Hmmm

Here are some ideas for you to help get you on your way – remember a calorie counting app like My Fitness Pal can help you to keep a track of exactly how much you are eating each day and the best part? It’s free!

Tejal Parekh, MS, RDN, LDN                                       Registered Dietitian                                  Lean Machine Nutrition  

Tejal Parekh, MS, RDN, LDN                                       Registered Dietitian                                  Lean Machine Nutrition  

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Are You Drinking Enough Water?

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Are You Drinking Enough Water?

Summer is upon us! We are hot, sweaty and thirstier than ever!

Below is a chart that will help you calculate how much water you should be consuming per day to stay hydrated.  For your convenience there are two examples of a 130 lb person and a 200 lb person.  We give you examples in ounces, gallons and liters so that you can pick the measurement that fits your lifestyle best.  We recommend buying a gallon jug or a bottle with clearly marked liters/oz on it.  If you are one of those people who buys water bottles by the case then we even tell you how many bottles to drink per day! The choice is yours. Grab a bottle, stay hydrated and don't forget to recycle! 

Credit: Lindsey Love Jenks, Lean Machine Nutrition Coach

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