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Nutrition

Five Ways to Fight Body Fat

There are plenty of “how to lose body fat” articles around the internet and truthfully they pretty much all sound the same.  Most of them comprise of ideas we already know; like exercise more, eat this and don’t eat that, and calorie consuming estimations.

Most of these ideas are either too vague or way too involved.  We all know to exercise more but what type of training is best?  Does anyone really know how many calories they actually use and consume every day of their lives?  Now I am not going to disregard your diet as an unnecessary component in fat loss, it is key, but it also must work synergistically with your training and some of the traditional fat loss methods are either ineffective or inefficient.

In this article I am going to share some fat burning tips that are not your typical dietary diatribe.  Rather, these tips relate more specifically to effective training and mindset with scientific studies to back them up.

Weight Training vs. Cardiovascular Training

We all hear that small sentence echoed by people who desire to drop a few pounds, “I have to do cardio.”  First off cardio is such an open-ended term however for the vast majority of people that means jumping on a machine, watching TV or flipping through a magazine and spending at least an hour going at a comfortable pace.  Sure you may end up in a puddle of sweat but the amount of perspiration does not correlate to the amount of fat lost.

One study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that a very basic resistance (weight) training routine consisting of only one set of nine exercises performed three times per week produced an  increased of muscle and prevented increases in fat mass and body fat percent after six months.  The increase of lean body mass (muscle) allows the body to have a greater potential to utilize energy to fuel these new muscles.  More muscle means more fat that can be burned.

If you enjoys doing cardio routines then by all means keep them in your program however do not neglect the power of a weight training program if optimal body composition is a goal of yours.

Don’t Just Move, Move Fast!

Talking aerobic conditioning or cardio again we find possibly another way to take that long-slow session on the bicycle at the gym and make them more efficient and effective.  When thinking about aerobic or cardiovascular training it may be best if we focus not on the duration of the workout but rather the intensity.

In a recent study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Metabolism found that two minutes of hill sprints three times per week elicited similar VO2 consumption when compared to three times per week of 30 minute of continuous exercise workouts.

VO2 consumption post workout is referred to as EPOC (Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption).  Simply stated: the greater the EPOC the greater the fat burning.  If you are able to elicit the effect of a 30 minute steady state cardio workout in only two you can save much more time and use it for other areas of your life.  It is easy to cast out 30 minute sessions but everyone can do a two minute session three times a week.

Swing a Bell

I might be a little biased since I use kettlebells as a tool for training not only strength but also for conditioning, however I do feel it is a superior method for fat loss when compared to most steady state cardiovascular sessions.  We have already established that the more lean muscle mass one has the higher the ability to burn fat for fuel.  Kettlebells are a great tool for adding lean muscle mass to your body and the added benefit is their ability to produce a great cardiovascular workout session similar to interval training.  They could be the best of both worlds.

One study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that ten minutes of kettlebell swings broken up in intervals elicited the same effect as a ten minute treadmill run.  The extra underlying benefits of kettlebell training also include muscle building (stated above) and it can be much more forgiving on the knee and hip joints where the impact in treadmill running can cause excessive stress to these joints.

Make Your Own Meals

I know I said I was not going to talk about diets, and I am not necessarily, but bear with me because this tip could lighten you up and make your wallet heavier at the same time.

One slight drawback in my life that I have from owning my own gym is not having a normal work shift.  There are plenty of days where I start work early and end late.  It is very easy for me to sleep as much as I can and avoid packing anything to eat with the intention of going to the store to purchase something that could be considered healthy.  For the normal work force employee it may be common to have their employer spoil them with catered food to keep them productive; most of the time it is going to be of the fast food variety.  We all have the best of intentions and eating food prepared by someone else can be quite a treat but if this protocol is frequently practiced them it could mean bad news for the waistline.

One cross-sectional study in Nutrition Review compared body weight and eating at home versus dining out.  Though the study did mention that there should be future studies comparing different out of home restaurants (i.e. fast food and finer dining establishments) it did find a positive association between out-of-home eating and body weight.  We all know that fast food is not the best choice for a healthy body but eating at fine dining establishments may only be marginally better options where our waistlines are concerned.  Eating out is a nice experience but it might be best when done in moderation.

Take it a Little More Personally

The bottom line to losing weight comes down to the individual.  Sure you can tell yourself and the people around you your goals and aspirations but we are the only ones that can help ourselves.  Taking complete control of the situation and actualizing the goal is proven effective and one way you can do this is to track your progress.

This strategy worked well with adolescents looking to change their body composition for the better.  A study published by The American Journal of Health and Behavior found that when adolescents used self regulating tactics (goal setting and tracking progress) they were more inclined to stick with their physical activity goals.  We all can agree that if we are able to stick with something positive in our lives than good things happen.

 

It doesn’t need to be this complicated but write it down

Conclusion

In the world of strength, conditioning and fat loss there are plenty of different ways to go about achieving your goals; what may work for some might not work for others.  The best thing to do is to clearly define your goals, write them down and find the most effective, efficient and enjoyable way to get you where you want to be.

Sources:

Bezerra IN, Curioni C, Sichieri R. Association between eating out of home and body weight. Nutr Rev. 2012 Feb;70(2):65-79.

Hazell TJ, Olver TD, Hamilton CD, Lemon P WR. Two Minutes of Sprint Interval Exercise Elicits Similar 24 hour VO2 as 30 Minutes of Continuous Endurance Exercise. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2012 Jun 15.

Hulsey CR, Soto DT, Koch AJ, Mayhew JL. Comparison of kettlebell swings and treadmill running at equivalent rating of perceived exertion values. J Strength Cond Res. 2012 May;26(5):1203-7.

Matthews J, Moran A. Physical activity and self-regulation strategy use in adolescents. Am J Health Behav. 2011 Nov;35(6):807-14.

Washburn RA, Kirk EP, Smith BK, Honas JJ, Lecheminant JD, Bailey BW, Donnelly JE. One set resistance training: effect on body composition in overweight young adults. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2012 Jun;52(3):273.

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Monday, July 30th, 2012 Kettlebell Training, Nutrition No Comments

Is Your Toothpaste Doing More Harm than Good?

This past week I was away at a workshop to learn more about flexibility, fascia and stretching (future fascinating article coming soon).  I was sharing a room with another friend and when I was washing up one evening I noticed his toothpaste on the sink counter and it got me thinking about the controversy surrounding the popular brand-name tubular tooth polishers.

It’s been about five years now since I have used conventional toothpaste.  I am a bit of a contrarian by nature and have a deep drive to buck society’s trends, especially when it comes to the topic of what the main-stream considers healthy.

I too was originally captivated by the fancy toothpaste commercials guaranteeing fewer cavities, a barrier against gum disease and a whiter smile.  Years ago I was brushing my teeth one night and got bored and started reading the label and something caught my attention.  The label explained that only a very small amount should be used and the paste itself should never be swallowed and children should be supervised while brushing so they do not swallow excessive amounts.

This didn’t sound like a health product but more like a potentially dangerous cleaning product.  The toothpaste warning actually made me more alarmed because at least most household cleaning products have an intended use that does not involve accidental ingestion.  With toothpaste, the label specifically states not to swallow, however it is a product that goes directly into the mouth, so the chances of swallowing even a small amount are high.  Was I potentially harming myself by using this product?

Problem Number One: Conventional Toothpaste May Not Protect Your Teeth    

I’m going to skip over discussing the dyes and artificial ingredients found in the popular toothpaste brands and simply focus on the two main ingredients that are touted for health that are a healthy façade in my opinion.  Upon researching conventional toothpaste I found that the claims made by the big companies that their product helps protects against cavities might not be entirely true; in fact, the ingredient advertised to do just that might actually do the exact opposite.

One of the primary ingredients in big-brand toothpaste is “glycerin” which gives the paste its silky smooth texture, a slightly sweet taste and makes brushing a breeze, however this convenience my lead to the slow demise of dental health.  Glycerin leaves a coating on the teeth that seals them and may prevent teeth from remineralizing by not allowing saliva to penetrate the teeth with the minerals it contains.

Over time the teeth may become softer, cavities may form and gum degeneration and bone loss may occur.

Problem Number Two: Don’t be Deceived by Fluoride

We have been bombarded by the idea that fluoride is necessary and healthy for us especially when it comes to the health of our teeth; this notion could not be further from the truth.  We are exposed to dangerous amounts of fluoride from all angles not just from big-brand toothpaste but even in our drinking water.  An article from The Weston Price Foundation put it best when they said:

Fluoridation is not about “children’s teeth,” it is about industry getting rid of its hazardous waste at a profit, instead of having to pay a fortune to dispose of it.

 

Only calcium fluoride occurs naturally in water; however, that type of fluoride has never been used for fluoridation. Instead what is used over 90 percent of the time are silicofluorides, which are 85 times more toxic than calcium fluoride.

 

They are non-biodegradable, hazardous waste products that come straight from the pollution scrubbers of big industries. If not dumped in the public water supplies, these silicofluorides would have to be neutralized at the highest rated hazardous waste facility at a cost of $1.40 per gallon (or more depending on how much cadmium, lead, uranium and arsenic are also present). Cities buy these unrefined pollutants and dump them–lead, arsenic and all–into our water systems. Silicofluorides are almost as toxic as arsenic, and more toxic than lead.1, 2

 

The dangers of fluoride are numerous and quite alarming.  The major threats to our health include:

  • Kidney Problems
  • Brain Damage
  • Thyroid Damage
  • Bone Disease
  • Bone Fractures
  • Cancer

As I mentioned earlier in the article, the toothpaste label warns about not swallowing the product, however, the label does not give the specifics as to why you should not swallow it.  The reason why is because of the known harmful effects of fluoride.  If you need more information about the dangers check out The Fluoride Action Network.

Safe Toothpaste Alternatives

It does not make logical sense to me to avoid consuming a product that is intended to go into your mouth.  I decided that I wanted to avoid this harmful type of fluoride all together I stopped consuming my local tap water almost entirely and looked for a toothpaste alternative.  I read about making my own toothpaste using baking soda and coconut oil but I never really had the strong desire to put the effort in.  What I did find was a product I had seen my grandfather using years ago when I was a young kid: tooth powder.

The brand I have been using for years now is Eco-dent (note I do not make any money recommending this product).

Eco-Dent is composed of baking soda, sea salt, herbs & essential oils to deliver its cleaning benefits.  Carbonic acid is also another key ingredient in the product which dissolves the minerals in the sea salt and allows for the effervescent, low-abrasive cleaning.  The sea salt provides more than 70 coral minerals, necessary to optimal human health; the minerals are found in the same proportions as those found in our teeth, bones and blood.

Conclusion:

Call me a cynical person but I always use a critical eye when it comes to major household products, especially when it comes to my health.  My suggestion, look at your products, read the labels and understand what’s really inside and make the best decision for you.


 References:

Fluoride Action Network: www.fluoridealert.org

George Glasser, Journalist, St. Petersburg, FL, “Fluoridation: A Mandate to Dump Toxic Waste in the Name of Public Health,” July 22, 1991.

R.E. Gosselin et al, Clinical Toxicology of commercial Products, 5th ed., 1984. U.S. EPA Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCL) EPA/NSF Standard 60.

Shattuck, Anita: Fluoridation: The Fraud of the Century, Weston Price Foundation, 2004.

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Tuesday, February 28th, 2012 Nutrition 1 Comment

How Sweet is Sugar? The Hidden Dangers

This article might seem a little clichéd due to the holidays coming up as many authors like to write about the dangers of all of the fun holidays treats.  I know I have a very intelligent and practical audience who understand the common dangers that sugar can have on our health so in this article I wanted to focus on some of the lesser known health risks associated with sugar so you can keep them to moderate levels during the year and be able to splurge a little more during special holiday occasions.

Sugar: Getting up to Speed

One of the biggest problems with the attempt to keep sugar consumption to moderate levels is that sugar can be found almost everywhere.  Even if you think you are avoiding the obvious locations like candy and soda there are many other products that have sugar as an ingredient that you might not be aware of.  Ketchup, energy bars, specialty coffee, dried fruit and even common lunch meats all have added sugar.

It’s not enough to avoid the obvious, we have to check the labels and see if the other unassuming products that we consume have unnecessary sugar in them to enhance the taste and texture.  With all of the consumption of sugar from different sources it won’t take long for our total daily sugar consumption to reach astronomical levels.

Lesser Known Health Risks

  • There are some common diseases associated with over-consumption of sugar including: obesity and type II diabetes but there are several other lesser know health risks associated with excessive sugar consumption; enough of which should make anyone want to keep consumption to an absolute minimum.
  • Sugar disrupts the mineral balance in the body by disrupting the pH levels in the blood.  Several different minerals like sodium, potassium, magnesium, copper and chromium are used to correct this imbalance, however when they are used for this function they are not utilized for their intended use like proper bone and muscle building and function.
  • Too much sugar increases the rate of aging of the skin causing the decrease in skin elasticity.  Skin requires healthy collagen to maintain its shape and structure.  Too much sugar in the blood decreases the use of the minerals necessary to build and maintain healthy collagen in the body.
  • Testosterone can decrease in the blood up to 25% with the consumption of sugar because of the high insulin levels associated with excessive amounts of sugar in the blood.
  • One of the most alarming correlations is found in a recent US study where cancer cells use sugar (fructose) to fuel their division and proliferation.  With cancer being one of the most prominent diseases facing mankind and with the average American consuming about 100-120lbs. of sugar per year who knows if cutting down on sugar consumption would also decrease the risk of cancer.

Conclusion

It’s a shame that we can’t simply just trust the food that we consume to be beneficial to our health and well being.  We must take it upon ourselves to truly understand that what we eat can have either significant benefits or repercussions towards our health.  We must also dig deeper beyond the basics good and bad foods and truly know what is in the other sources we are consuming.  A healthy and balanced diet comes down to the decisions we make and the dedication we instill.

References:

Cancer Cells Slurp up Fructose

Effects of Sugar on Skin and Aging

Shocking: Sugar Content of Common Food Products

Sugar: A Sweet Invitation to Disease

Sugar Kills

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Monday, November 28th, 2011 Nutrition No Comments
 

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