My Top Health Tips.
IS IT BETTER TO EAT BEFORE OR AFTER A WORKOUT?
This makes for a fun topic as you are going to hear everything under the sun! My answer is Both. This is why: Some people may tell you to train on an empty stomach in order to burn more fat, but that has turned out to be FALSE, not to mention pretty dreadful. You do not have to suffer to get results. There is a better way, I promise!
In fact, your body needs some glucose (blood sugar) for fuel in addition to what it can use from fat stores when you’re working out. If you don’t have any blood sugar available, your body will eat the muscles’ glycogen, or stored glucose. Low blood sugar will also make you tired and sluggish during your training session. You will have no power to work hard, which is what really changes your body.
I can always tell when a client of mine has skipped breakfast or not eaten for hours because they have no power or push point for their workout. For these reasons, I suggest you eat something 45 minutes to an hour before training — you’ll have more energy and endurance to work harder, burn more calories, and improve your muscle tone. This goes for both cardio and strength training workouts.
After training, during a period known as the golden hour (45 to 60 minutes after a workout), muscles absorb the most nutrients, and glycogen is replaced the most efficiently. This is especially important after strength training. You don’t have to have a huge meal — just a little something that contains both protein and carbs will give the best results. You don’t want to throw all your hard work out the window by not refueling.
“IT IS OK TO HAVE BAD DAYS. THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU ARE ORE OFF YOUR DIET. FORGIVE YOURSELF AND GET BACK ON TRACK!”
HOW MUCH WATER DO I REALLY NEED?
This is another controversial topic. Experts all say something a little different. One thing I can promise you though, is that most people do not drink nearly enough water and therefore are dehydrated. This means they eat when they are really thirsty, have lower energy, actually hold on to water weight, and really have no release to get the toxins and wastes out of their bodies.
Here is what you must understand:
- On average, 60 percent of your body weight is made up of water. Some benefits of water to just name a few include; increased energy levels, decreased appetite, improved metabolic function, helps eliminate toxins and wastes, and alleviation of fluid retention.
Tips to drinking more water:
- At first, I recommend getting at least a half a gallon a day but try for more. It is hard at first but you will find it to get easier the more you drink up. (Not to mention you will have more energy and you may even see a change in your skin.) To do this, you can follow the 8 by 8 rule. (Drinking eight 8-oz cups a day.) Also, since we are all different shapes and sizes, you can take your body weight, divided it half, and drink that number in ounces.
- Remember many foods are made up of water too and they help contribute to meeting your daily quota but I recommend focusing on drinking your fluids. This is more reliable, easiest, calorie-free, and inexpensive.
- Make a goal to drink a glass first thing in the morning. Also try to drink a glass of water before and during every meal. This can help you not over eat and also will help jump start your metabolism.)
- Ask yourself “Am I thirsty” or “Am I hungry” and chances are you will find that you are really just thirsty.
- Put water bottles in your car, at your desk, in your gym bag, all over your house, and even schedule it in as a reminder.
- Last but not least, what color is your urine? If it is colorless or very light that is a great signal that you are hydrated but if it is darker in color (close to an amber shade), you know you need more water.
When you are exercising make sure you understand the following:
- 2 Hours prior to exercise: drink 17-20 oz
- Every 10-20 minutes during exercise: drink 7-10 oz
- Following Exercise (thirsty or not): drink 16-24 oz for every pound of body weight lost
- (Based on Journal of Athletic Training)
Women who are expecting or breast-feeding need additional fluids to stay hydrated. Large amounts of fluid are used especially when nursing. The Institute of Medicine recommends that pregnant women drink 2.3 liters (about 10 cups) of fluids daily and women who breast-feed consume 3.1 liters (about 13 cups) of fluids a day.
“LEARN FROM YOUR GOOD DAYS. IF YOU HAVE AN EASY DAY THAT WAS HEALTH, MAKES NOTES ABOUT EXACTLY WHAT YOU DID AND WHY IT WORKED.”
YOU AND YOUR HORMONES
We have all been there. It is time for lunch and you can hear your stomach growl in anticipation for a feast. You find yourself ravenous because you most likely ran out the door with no fuel. This leaves you ready to scarf down whatever you can get your hands on. For example, you inhale the first thing you see, muffins, cookies, doughnuts, pizza, etc. and you eat it so quickly too, let’s face it, you are starving and have no control, so you go ahead and eat 4 more.
THIS IS WRONG and can be avoided! The cause of this is the hormone ghrelin; released when the stomach is empty, it sets off a chain reaction in the body to make you hungry. In general, you want to keep levels of ghrelin low during the day so you can keep hunger in check. Apart from an empty stomach, there are several factors that can raise ghrelin levels, including drinking alcohol, eating too few calories, and eating greasy, fatty foods. Here are some strategies that will help you manage these triggers and keep your ghrelin levels from rising:
- Have a substantial breakfast.
- Choose complex carbs and get more fiber.
- Eat on a schedule.
- Emphasize high-volume, low-calorie foods.
- Eat protein.
- Stay hydrated (this means water!)
“RECENT STUDIES INDICATE THAT SKIPPING BREAKFAST CAN INCREASE YOUR RISK FOR OBESITY BY AS MUCH AS FOURFOLD! IS THIS YOU?”
CAN CERTAIN FOODS REALLY BURN FAT?
This is a good one, right? We hear so many mixed things about how eating a certain food only i.e. (grapefruits, cabbage, celery, etc.) will shed the pounds off. Not to mention the fasts and cleanses out there claiming to melt the fat off. It does not help when you read about your favorite celebrity who also did some crazy diet and looks great. Keep in mind, it is all an illusion! This is again, my advice…If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
However, there are foods that contain fewer calories than the body uses to digest them. Therefore, when you eat these foods (cruciferous veggies, leafy greens, and so forth), you’re helping create a calorie deficit. I recommend eating as many veggies as you want, in fact, I dare you to try to reach your daily serving suggestion! Most Americans are not getting nearly enough. Only about 14 % of people in the United States consume the recommended five daily servings of fruits and vegetables!
There are also certain foods that will crank up your metabolism by releasing the right hormones. Protein will release more human growth hormone, (plus replenish your muscles after workouts). Foods with selenium and zinc will support a healthy thyroid. You can boost your metabolic rate by eating clean, whole, fresh foods and avoiding processed foods and chemicals. (Source: “Master your Metabolism”).
But really there is no food that will magically burn off fat. Yes, you have to actually get moving and put in the hard work to get the pounds off and too keep the pounds off!
“DON’T GIVE UP. THERE IS NO QUICK FIX TO LOSE WEIGHT. EAT HEALTHY. EXERCISE. FORGIVE YOUR MISSTEPS. KEEP GOING!”
HOW MUCH CARBS, FAT, AND PROTEIN DO I NEED?
It is important to know how to fuel and replenish your body properly in everyday life. This is a very confusing area of Health and Fitness. I believe it is confusing on purpose so people can push unnecessary supplements and pills to those who are unaware of what their bodies really need. So do not be fooled.
Here are some simple ways to try to incorporate the appropriate amount of carbohydrates, fat, and protein into your diet. Just keep in mind, WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT, with different bodies and goals, so follow what works best for you. Here is a guideline to start out somewhere. Normal, healthy adults of average size who engage in physically activity should consume the following amounts of nutrients daily for optimal health:
Builds and repairs body tissue. Major component of enzymes, hormones, and antibodies.
A guideline to follow:
Approximately 50-70 grams or 12-20% of caloric intake should come from protein. (Depending on body size and physical activity).
It is important to understand that protein consumption can differ depending how physically active you are and what demands you are putting on your muscle. You will hear many different opinions on protein intake. I advise the formula below:
A formula to use to help you for a guideline is:
Your weight in lbs________/2.2=______weight in kilograms. Now take your weight in kilograms________*0.8=________protein requirements per day.
Note for ATHLETES: There is now sufficient data to suggest that protein requirements do vary with the type and intensity of exercise performed and total energy consumed. Protein recommendation for athletes will need to be slightly more.
For Athletes: 1.2 – 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day is the recommendation.
Another fact to understand is what happens when you over consume protein. Protein consumed in excess of what the body needs will be converted to fat. This can also cause dehydration and place added stress on the kidneys and liver.
“Avoid calories that don’t satisfy your hunger (e.g., fruit juices and sodas). Protein has been proven to give you a “full-feeling.”
(Carbs are back and better than ever…Thank goodness the low-carb craze is winding down!)
Provides a major source of fuel to the body and Provides Dietary Fiber.
A guideline to follow:
- A minimum of 125 grams, optimal 350-400 grams or 55 to 65% of caloric intake should come from carbohydrates.
- Those who exercise more than one hour everyday should consume close to 65% of their calories as carbohydrates.
- What kind of carbs? COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES. For example: Fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, whole grains, rice, cereal, oatmeal. etc.
- The recommended carbohydrate intake in gram weight is 4 to 6 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram (1.8 to 2.7 grams per pound) of body weight, depending on activity.
“Watch out for the tortilla chips, Eating 20 chips with dip can add 500 calories to your meal!”
Chief storage form of energy in the body, Insulates and protects vital organs, Provides fat-soluble vitamins.
A guideline to follow:
- Approximately 30 to 65 grams, (depending on caloric consumption), or 25 to 35% of caloric intake should come from fat.
- This can be a little trickier to figure out. Obviously of you are trying to lose weight you may need to cut back on some fat.
- Look out for Trans Fats also known as Partially-Hydrogenated oil. It is in many packaged foods and baked goods, even in breads.
- Limiting your consumption of saturated fats can reduce your risk for high cholesterol, strokes, & heart disease.
“Frying can triple the calories and fat in a food item, make your choices wisely!”
HAVE YOU REACHED A PLATAEU?
Time to ask yourself the following questions…
First: Are you focusing too much on the number on the scale? A scale only measures total body weight~fat, muscle, bones, organs. It doesn’t tell you a thing about body composition, which is a far better measure of overall health and fitness.
Have you cut down on strength training? Do NOT cut out weight training from your regimen.! I can’t stress this enough. It is a vital component of a well-rounded fitness program. The more muscle you add to the body, the better your body is able to burn calories, even at rest.
Are you confused about fat and muscle? A pound of muscle and a pound of fat both weigh…A POUND. The difference is that muscle is a lot more compact and takes up less space than fat. A 130 lb. woman who is fit and has a low body fat percentage is going to look slimmer and leaner compared to a 130 lb. woman who has a high body fat percentage and not much muscle.
If you have hit a plateau, that’s a sign you need to change up your exercise routine. Over time the body will adapt to an exercise regimen and you will stop seeing additional benefits. You need to be tricking your body and “confusing” your muscles on a regular basis in order for them to get stronger and to continue burning fat and calories. Fortunately, it’s easy to get out of a rut.
- Change up your cardio. Go for at least one day per week of “HIIT”~High Intensity Interval Training. All that means is that you’re exercising at a moderate pace for a minute or two, then cranking up the intensity for 30-60 seconds, to the point where you’re really huffing and puffing, then come back down and recover for a minute or two. Repeat several times until you’ve done at least 20 minutes (and the beauty of HIIT is that you only need about 20 minutes to burn serious calories and really strengthen your cardiovascular system). Do this once, or better yet, twice per week, alternating these tough sessions with longer, more moderate cardio sessions.
- Change up your weight training. A lot of people, women especially, make the mistake of thinking that lifting light weights with a lot of reps is the way to go, but in fact, you should be lifting all manner of weights~high weights to failure, moderate weights with moderate reps, and if you want to do light weights with high reps, try to do compound moves (i.e. combining squats with military presses, or lunges with bicep curls) so that you get your heart rate up. But don’t be afraid to lift heavier. Once a week, lift the heaviest weights you can until your muscles give out (make sure you have good form or have a spotter to help you so you don’t injure yourself!). Doing this causes serious muscle fatigue, which is actually what you WANT: when you “feel the burn” you are causing your muscles to get stronger. Just make sure that you don’t over do it~give your heavy-lifted muscles at least 36 hours of rest so they can recover (because muscle building occurs during recovery, not during exercise). Make sure you are getting enough calories~always strive to meet your minimum NET calories per day to lose a pound a week. Exercise burns more calories, so make sure you’re “eating back” those calories. Starving yourself is totally counterproductive to weight loss and muscle building.
Finally, try to stop stressing about what the scale is telling you, and judge how you’re doing by how your clothes fit, what your body measurements are and by how you feel. If possible, consider getting a body composition test at your gym, which will give you a better sense of where you are. I offer this at my studio, so contact me if you are interested.