Nutrition

You are What You Eat: You Can’t Out Exercise a Bad Diet

Ever heard someone give themselves permission to indulge their sweet tooth just because they just had a great workout?  It’s a common excuse. Many people believe that because they exercise, they’re in the black as far as their calorie input/output.  But in reality, this sort of thinking is a sure road to failure. Most people with a lean body and a 6 pack didn’t get that way by rationalizing their way to the desert buffet.

Many people have no idea how many calories they take in on an average day, often severely underestimating when asked to take a guess at it.  But they also overestimate the number of calories they burn.  The truth is, 30 minutes of the best boot camp in town will not cancel out that burger and fries!

Do the math

Let’s look at the hard numbers.  An average, moderately intensive workout will burn 300-400 calories in about an hour.  That’s an hour of hard work with plenty of sweat and hard breathing.  

Now say on the way home from the gym, you decide to grab a couple of donuts from Dunkin’ Donuts.  After all, you’ve earned it!  In the 3 minutes it will take you to put away two chocolate frosted cake donuts, you’ve consumed 720 calories. All your hard work is wasted, plus you’ve provided your body with several hundred extra calories to store as fat! 

Or maybe you just want to have some pizza and soda with friends.  You consider the 600 calories you burned running on the treadmill for an hour today (at 10 miles per hour—that’s a really fast run for a really long time!), so you eat 4 pieces of pizza and a coke.  No problem, right?  

Wrong.  You just downed 900-1,000 calories in about 10 minutes!

Is it really worth it?

Jim Inglis Fitness

Face the facts

The bottom line is you simply can’t out train a bad diet.  If you try to spar a bad diet with exercise, the exercise will lose every single time.  The only way to lose weight and get that lean, sexy, healthy body that looks great in anything (or nothing) is to eat a healthy diet AND exercise.

Your weight loss is driven by diet and maintained by exercise.  The only way to get ahead in the calorie game is to eat fewer calories than you burn.  Only then will you begin to see the fat melt away.  Exercise builds muscle and can rev up your metabolism, but you won’t lose weight if you continually eat more than you can metabolize. 

This is not to say that exercise is not important.  It is!  In fact, according to Barry Braun, associate professor of kinesiology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst,  

“When you look at the results in the National Weight Control Registry, you see over and over that exercise is one constant among people who’ve maintained their weight loss.” 1

Want to keep the pounds off?  Exercise!  Exercise is crucial.  And you must combine it with a balanced diet if you want to shed pounds.

Start smart

Have you been trying to out exercise your diet?  Don’t be discouraged; many of us have been guilty of this.  It’s time to rethink your weight loss strategy.  Try the following tips to start fresh and recreate your body!

  • Plan, plan, plan.  The only way you are going to get control of your diet is to plan ahead.  Do not let yourself get hungry with nothing healthy prepared to eat; your will power will plummet and you will reach for a snack that will set you back.  Keep food ready in your refrigerator that you can grab and heat quickly.  And don’t leave the house without cool water, nuts, fruit, whole grain crackers and cheese.  Make things really easy by using a service like Lean Eats.

 

  • Lift weights. When you start losing weight, you must protect your muscle.  If you begin to lose pounds without adding in weight lifting, you will likely lose up to 25% of your muscle mass.  Also, after an intense weight lifting workout targeting at least 3 big muscles, your metabolism increases for up to 39 hours after you are finished.  And repairing that muscle tissue after lifting requires energy!  Energy=calories burned.


  • Get some accountability.  We’ll strike this note again and again:  you need a partner.  Remember, the single biggest determiner of your fitness success is whether or not you have an accountability partner.  Find someone to trade food journals with and report on how you are doing with your will power.  


You need both exercise and a healthy diet to be lean, strong and healthy.  Don’t neglect either one!

1http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/18/magazine/18exercise-t.html?pagewanted=1 

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Nutrition

Upgrade Your Warm-up

You might be tempted to skip the warm up when you work out.  After all, you only have so much time to exercise—“Let’s just get on with it already!  I’m in a hurry!”

But warming up is a critical component of your fitness routine, and skipping it could have unpleasant and even dangerous results—such as muscle strain, muscle injury and pain.

Oh yeah, and a proper warm-up will actually IMPROVE your workout performance!

The Warm-up:  Basics

A warm up is a short workout period at the beginning of your exercise session.  It is generally low intensity and prepares your body for the upcoming exertion.

The purpose of a traditional warm up is to slightly increase your heart rate. This raises your core body temperature and increases the blood flow to your muscles.  Cold muscles and other connective tissues do not stretch very easily.  A warm up session literally warms them up and relaxes them, making them more supple and ready to work. 

Without a warm up, you will be more susceptible to sprained muscles, cramps and injury.  Ultimately, these effects could keep you from exercising for an extended period of time as you recover, which is not conducive to the healthy lifestyle you desire.

It takes about three minutes for your body to realize that it needs to move more blood to your muscles, so the ideal warm up time is between five and ten minutes.

There is no set prescription for what your warm up should consist of.  You can choose a set of preparatory exercises (such as squats, lunges, toe touches, etc.,) or you can do a light intensity version of your upcoming workout (a brisk walk to prepare for a run, for example, or lifting light weights before increasing the load).

Jim Inglis Fitness

The Warm-Up:  Advanced Strategy

Now with all that being said about a “basic” warm-up, let me share with you how I personally prepare myself, as well as every one of my personal training boot camp clients.

For long-term health and fitness combined with your weight loss training efforts it’s imperative to understand that a proper warm-up is about more than just “warming up the body.”  It’s about preparing the body for an all-out training assault that’s going to boost your metabolism through the roof.

Therefore, we look at the warm-up as a Preparation Phase for the workout to come.  Through research and practical experience we’ve determined that best results are typically seen when an exercise prep routine incorporates 3 key components:

  1. Tissue Quality
  2. Corrective Exercise
  3. Mobility & Activation

Tissue Quality

Almost all chronic joint pain or overuse injuries are caused by tightness and restrictions in the muscles above and below the joint in question.  In other words, it’s not about PAIN SITE… it’s about PAIN SOURCE!

Knee pain is often caused by restrictions in the tissue of your calves and front/inner/outer thighs.  Back pain is often caused by restrictions in your glutes and hamstrings.  Shoulder pain is often caused by restrictions in your thoracic spine (T-Spine), chest and lats.

Tissue quality describes the general health of your muscles and the interconnected web of fascia that surrounds them all.  Over time, we develop scar tissue, adhesions, knots and trigger points due to high-intensity training, overuse, and/or extended periods of sitting.

The best way to address this is to self-massage sore, tight, and restricted muscle groups of the body to regenerate tissue both pre and post-workout to promote injury reduction and allow for a smoother, more productive workout. 

In addition, self-massage before stretching allows for a better, more complete stretch by smoothing out the knots. You should always precede flexibility work with tissue quality for best results.

Massage is one of those counter-intuitive things whereby you are actually actively searching for pain. In fact, it’s the only time to ever do so when it comes to proper training.

The best analogy I can give you is this:

If it hurts that much when you put pressure on your muscles, just imagine how bad your joints must feel!

Corrective Exercise

We all have unique “issues” with our body mechanics and functional movement capabilities.  For some it’s a lack of flexibility, while others there may be a balance or mobility issue.  Perhaps there’s an asymmetry – one side is significantly “stronger” than the other leading to muscular imbalances, postural distortions and overcompensation injuries.  You can find out your individual corrective needs by going through a movement screen such as the Functional Movement Screen (FMS).

The FMS is a ranking and grading system that documents movement patterns that are key to normal function.  By screening these patterns, the FMS readily identifies functional limitations and asymmetries.  These are issues that can reduce the effects of functional training and physical conditioning and distort body awareness.
 
The FMS generates the Functional Movement Screen Score, which is used to target problems and track progress. This scoring system is directly linked to the most beneficial corrective exercises to restore mechanically sound movement patterns.
 
Exercise professionals monitor the FMS score to track progress and to identify those exercises that will be most effective to restore proper movement and build strength in each individual.

 
So, in a nutshell, the FMS is designed to 

  • Identify functional limitations and asymmetries which have been linked to increased injury risk
  • Provide exercises to restore proper movement, and build stability, mobility, and strength in each individual

Mobility & Activation

More than just a typical warm-up, a mobility and activation circuit truly prepares your body for a maximum performance workout.

Mobility describes the ability of a joint, or a series of joints, to move through an ideal range of motion.  Though mobility relies on flexibility, it requires an additional strength, stability, and neuromuscular control component to allow for proper movement.  Activation is often paired with mobility because many mobility exercises activate key, and often dormant, pillar stabilizers in your hips, core and shoulders.

More Than Just a Warm-Up…

So, as you can see, a warm-up is much more than just a warm-up when you’re training smarter for long-term health, fitness and fat loss goals.

Think twice before you skip the “warm-up” in your next workout…

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Nutrition

Gut Permeability and Your Diet

More and more we are hearing about food allergies and food sensitivities. Because they are such common conditions, it is important to understand the difference between the two and what the health issues are which surround them.

The Difference Between Food Sensitivities And Food Allergies

Though on the surface food sensitivities and food allergies may seem like the same thing (they can even cause some of the same symptoms), they are, in fact, two different conditions.

The least common of the two is a food allergy.  A food allergy will bring about a response from the immune system that can impact several different parts of your body.  Food allergies can be life-threatening.  Food sensitivity or food intolerance symptoms are less serious but are more common, being typically confined to the digestive tract.

The Gut Connection

When you have a food allergy, your body essentially treats the food as something that is threatening to your body and therefore mounts an attack against it.  The reason for the attack is that particles of that food and other molecules have traveled from the intestines into the bloodstream; but they are not supposed to be there.  

How did they get there?  Through what is known as a leaky gut.  A normal, healthy intestine has walls that are tight, allowing only small molecules such as vitamins, simple sugars and amino acids to pass through it.  But when the gut becomes overly permeable, larger molecules, toxins, bacteria and bits of undigested waste pass through into the blood stream.  These molecules are not supposed to be in the bloodstream at all.  

The result is that this triggers a response in the body, and the large molecules are treated as foreigners, triggering an immune reaction leading to digestion problems, autoimmune diseases and additional food allergies.  If your body begins producing antibodies to certain foods and food groups, then those foods will be treated as pathogenic by your body.

What are the causes and symptoms of leaky gut?

There are many causes of leaky gut.  These include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin
  • Alcohol and caffeine
  • Antacid medications
  • Food additives
  • Allergies to food
  • Stress
  • Infections within the bowel itself
  • Diets high in refined flours, sugars and other processed foods
  • Candidiasis
  • Antibiotics

If you have leaky gut, you may experience a range of symptoms such as fatigue, joint and muscle pain, pain and bloating in the abdomen, skin rashes, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and depression.

The Solution

  • The good news is that if you think you have leaky gut, there are several action steps you can take to begin healing.  The key is to remove anything that may be contributing to your condition, while at the same time feed your body what it needs to begin repairing the damage.  

    Try the following suggestions to start on the road to healing and health:

    1. Eliminate alcohol and caffeine from your diet.
    2. Stop using all anti-inflammatory drugs.
    3. Chew your food thoroughly and take a digestive enzyme to aid digestion.
    4. Take probiotics to increase the number of friendly microbes in your intestines.
    5. Eat at least nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
    6. Stop eating refined, white flour, sugar and processed foods.
    7. Drink plenty of filtered water.
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Nutrition

How To Balance Cortisol for Weight Loss and Health

How too Much Cortisol can lead to Decreased Health and Increased Belly Fat

Some have called it the “master” of all hormones.  Others curse it for its ability to wreak havoc on our body’s fragile endocrine balance.  In spite of the mixed opinions one thing is certain: cortisol is a powerful hormone necessary for life.  But if its level is not optimal in your body, your health could suffer.

What is Cortisol?

The hormone cortisol is produced in the adrenal glands and is primarily responsible for regulating blood sugar, helping to metabolize fats, protein and carbohydrates and assisting in managing our stress response. We all have times of stress in our lives, and cortisol helps us to function during these times.

When the stress goes up, cortisol kicks in and delivers help.  We get a quick burst of energy, our memory sharpens, our immunity increases, and our sensitivity to pain decreases.  These are all important and natural functions of cortisol and ensure that we are able to weather the curve balls that life throws at us.

However, if the stress doesn’t let up, neither does the cortisol.  Unfortunately, what is healthy in small bursts becomes dangerous over the long term.  If you have persistent stress in your life, then you have cortisol levels that are out of balance:  your body makes so much cortisol that it detrimentally affects your health. This leads to adrenal fatigue.

When you have prolonged, high levels of cortisol in your bloodstream 

  • you will crave foods that are high in carbs (like cake and cookies), 
  • you will gain weight in your abdominal area (which increases your risk of heart disease and diabetes), and 
  • you will have trouble sleeping

Cortisol and the Circadian Rhythm

Our bodies produce different chemicals during the day and night that control our sleep, energy and mood.  The natural rhythm of this cycle is known as the Circadian Rhythm, and cortisol is a key player.

Under normal circumstances, your body produces cortisol in amounts largely determined by the clock.  Levels tend to be higher in morning—triggered by the emerging daylight--giving you a boost of energy to jumpstart your day. 

As the day wears on, cortisol levels should drop, helping to prepare you for a good night’s sleep. Likewise, Melatonin (another hormone that affects your energy and sleep habits) levels should be lower in the morning but as the daylight fades, they should increase, helping you to begin relaxing and preparing for sleep.  

However, if you are under constant stress or if your adrenal glands are not functioning properly, your cortisol level may not drop off during the day. Instead, it may actually rise and stay at a dangerously high level.  By the time bedtime rolls around, you will not feel sleepy.  You will feel “tired but wired,” and be unable to relax and fall asleep.

Action Steps To Reset Your Circadian Clock​​​​

If you suspect that your natural, circadian rhythm is disrupted, don’t despair.  There are several things you can do to reset your clock so you can start sleeping better at night and waking up more refreshed in the morning.

Try the following tips:

  • Reduce stress.  Easier said than done, I know.  But many times our stress levels are correlated to our response to stressful situations. Learning how to cope with stress more effectively may be all it takes to balance your cortisol.
  • Be consistent.  Going to bed and getting at the same time each day will help to regulate your circadian rhythm. Practice this habit to slowly coax your body into a schedule.
  • Use light wisely.  Since your circadian rhythm is partially controlled by light, darken your room well when you go to bed, and flood it with light when it is time to get up.  Try using a full spectrum light in the mornings.
  • Avoid naps.  If your circadian clock is off, you may find that you get very sleepy in the afternoon.  However, taking a nap may make it more difficult to fall asleep at night.  Try to resist naps.
  • Eat most of your calories early.  If you can eat the bulk of your daily calories earlier in the day as opposed to later in the day, you may find that you can recalibrate your circadian rhythms more easily.
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