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Category Archives: Nutrition

H2O GO!

The Earth is 70% water. Your body is made up of about 60-70% water. Coincidence?

I’ve had a few clients in the past who simply don’t drink enough water.

Common excuses include: I don’t like the taste of it, I don’t want to have to pee later, I never remember to drink it, I’d rather drink (insert something not as healthy as water here).

Here is my problem with not drinking enough water… Your body will not operate at it’s fullest potential without the element of life!

The human body is one of the most complex machines I can think of. So many functions, so many abilities, all made possible by water!

Blood is mostly water. The duty of blood transporting oxygen to all the cells in your body is done much more efficiently with adequate amounts of water in your blood stream. Water provides a moist environment for your ears, nose, and throat tissues. Water is part of your immune system, which helps you fight off illness. You need water for your digestive system as well. You need it to excrete toxins. You can’t even live for more than a few days without water! One of my favorite bands is called H2O!

How much water should you be consuming daily? The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day.

Mind you, this isn’t for people hiking in the amazon, or anyone living in a harsh habitat with extreme temperatures, or doing strenuous activity such as spinning or grappling for five 5 minute rounds in the heart of Brazil with no air conditioning in the dojo wearing a 10 pound gi that doesn’t breathe. For those extreme conditions you MUST UP YOUR WATER INTAKE!

During strenuous active exercise your body needs to stay hydrated to remain mentally focused AND physically strong. No water during exercise leads to dehydration.

Dehydration is when the amount of water leaving your body is greater than the amount of water being taken in. Vigorous exercise, diarrhea, vomiting, massive amounts of alcohol can all lead to symptoms of dehydration which include the spins, dry mouth, muscle cramps, dry skin, constipation, and nothing worth having!

Now for those of you who were wondering WHEN to consume your water, please keep in mind that timing is everything.

If you have a workout session scheduled make sure you have been drinking water throughout the day in small amounts here and there. You want to make sure you have some water in your system before exercise. BUT… Let’s just say your boss was talking your ear off for the last 3 hours and you didn’t have time to properly hydrate throughout your day before our 12pm appointment… Don’t freak out at 11:47am and start chugging water because then your stomach will be too full for me (with a good conscious) to have you do box jumps.

Inspect your urine. I’m serious. If your pee is very light yellow/clear, your body might be in need of getting rid of excess water. Put the Brita down and chill for a bit. If  your urine is a very dark yellow, it’s holding on to water as a defense mechanism, so it’s probably time to drop a dollar and pick up a bottle of Poland Spring.

I’m not a fan of drinking JUICE with your meals because the sugar in those beverages gives you a temporary sugar high, which will just lead to a crash later. Too much coffee or caffeinated beverages are addicting and will give you the jitters. Soda contains too many calories and is one of the reasons why this country is so overweight… Just stick with the water! It’s free!

Give yourself a reason to step away from the desk and refill your water bottle now. Mandatory water break for everyone!

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The Good Fat, The Bad Fat, and The Ugly Fat. Part 2

THE BAD FAT

Saturated Fats are typically found in animal fats. Burgers, bacon, dairy products… They all contain the bad fats… SATURATED FATS!

If your goal is to lose weight, your best bet is to stay away from animal fats/Saturated fats. That stuff clings to your body! Think about it, it takes 4 calories to burn up a gram of a carbohydrate, but 9 calories to burn up a gram of fat. Hey, want to continue eating yogurt, hot dogs, and grilled cheese sandwiches so you have to stay on a treadmill 2.25 times longer to lose weight than if you ate fruits, vegetables, and grains? OF COURSE NOT!

Besides carrying around extra weight on your body, and maybe not looking as good as you’d like to look on the outside, it’s really the damage on the inside of your body that turns me off when consuming saturated fats.

Raising the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) increases your chances of having a heart attack, and that’s exactly what this stuff does. A meta-analysis published in 2003 found a direct relationship between saturated fat and breast cancer. In 2007, a systematic literature review published by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research found consistent evidence for a direct relationship between animal fat and colorectal cancer. Throughout the years there has been many studies and experiments done that link animal fats to cancer, and many experiments done to label saturated fats as unhealthy, but Trans Fats are the real bad news…

THE UGLY FAT

Trans Fats are typically found in packaged goods and fast food restaurants. Twinkies, doughnuts, KFC, McDonald’s… They all have/use the ugly fats… TRANS FATS!

Back in the day (late 19th century) scientists discovered that they could create a fat that would prolong the spoiling of packaged goods by simply adding a hydrogen atom to an unsaturated fat. The partially hydrogenated fat creations wouldn’t spoil as easily as nonhydrogenated fats, plus they didn’t break down during temperature changes, which made transporting them easier, and they were less expensive than animal fat. Well done boys, yet another amazing man-made invention!

Obviously food makers all over the world were all about trans fats! McDonalds, along with other fast food companies starting using trans fatty oils to fry their foods with, packaged junk foods like twinkies and cookies were all being made with trans fats… Until 1981 when a group of Welsh researchers linked Trans Fats to heart disease.

It’s like this… Trans fats aren’t naturally occurring fats. Think of them as foreign substances that you are putting in your body. The stiffer and harder fats are, the more they clog up your arteries. Over time the artery cloggers will in fact make it quite difficult for your heart to operate which could lead you to a trip to the operating room.

These artificial/man-made trans fats not only raise the level of “bad” cholesterol (LDL), but they depelete the “good” cholesterol (HDL)!

12 years after the Welsh researcher’s discovery, a Harvard experiment strongly supported the hypothesis that intake of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (trans fats) contributed to the risk of having a heart attack. Since then they have been linked to Alzheimer’s Disease, Diabetes, Obesity, Cancer, and Liver Dysfunction.

Skip out on the Twinkies and eat some fruit if you want something sweet. Drive past the McDonald’s on your way home from work and pick up a salad at your local health food store. STAY HEALTHY!

The Good Fat, The Bad Fat, and The Ugly Fat

THE GOOD FAT

Besides not only being an essential (not synthesized by the body and must be consumed through diet only) nutrient that everybody needs, fat supplies essential fatty acids for growth, healthy skin, vitamin-absorption, protects our organs, keeps us warm, and regulates our bodily functions. A LITTLE FAT IS NOT A BAD THING!

In fact, 30%-35% of your daily caloric intake should consist of fat!

Now, don’t get it twisted, NOT ALL FATS ARE GOOD FOR YOU! And, keep in mind you WILL be exercising as you consume your fats daily in order to efficiently metabolize and put to use your food. Don’t just think you can eat a pound of unsalted nuts and watch Biggest Loser on TV all day and think that’s healthy. MOVE!

So, which fats should you consume? Well, I like to look at it like this… There are good fats (Unsaturated), bad fats (Saturated), and then absolute garbage/junkyard crap fats (Trans fats).

Unsaturated fats are the good guys that are here to help you, so let’s start with them. They will lower cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are under the same GOOD umbrella.

Polyunsaturated fats include my favorite fat of all time… OMEGA 3’s!

Omega 3’s not only do all the good things typical polyunsaturated fats do, but these guys actually have helped me personally with achy elbows and knees (thanks to years of hyper-extension) by lubricating my joints! If you have achy joints, I would recommend Omega 3’s to you too.

You can get your Omega 3’s in foods like walnuts, flax seeds, and my personal favorite Chia seeds.

Before you go into your Def. Comedy Jam routine with some cheesy “Chia Pet” joke, please know that Chia seeds are odorless, tasteless, and in the one spoon full of the Chia seeds I put in my daily protein shake I consume more Omega 3’s than if I were to eat an entire Salmon, twice the amount of Potassium than a banana, and three times the antioxidants than a serving of blueberries contains.

Olive oil, sunflower seeds, and peanut butter are all foods rich in Polyunsaturated fats.

Monounsaturated fats are equally as important as polyunsaturated fats. Avocados, hazelnuts, almonds, and pumpkin seeds are all rich in monounsaturated fats. These fats also help reduce the risk of heart disease, but they also promote healthy brain function and reduce the risks of a stroke. I just recently turned 28, so to prevent cognitive decrease, I will definitely be snacking on some guacamole later.

Stick with the good guys of fat. You are the company you keep. Use your head (especially if you are eating more monounsaturated fats than usual).

Emotional Eating

Emotional eating is when people use food as a way to deal with feelings instead of to satisfy hunger. So, let me ask you… Are you an emotional eater? Let’s talk about feelings, friends!

If your eating habits have a direct relationship with your emotions, you need to get a hold of yourself! Major life events like death, heartbreak, and overall frustration can make a person do something crazy like eat emotionally just as a quick escape for the harsh realities of life.

Here’s a tip… Pause for a moment.

You are trying to get/stay healthy. You have been putting the time in at the gym. You have me stalking your calories on loseit.com, and you WILL have to answer to me if I see Fettuccine Alfredo in your food logs… We are working towards a goal, don’t let your emotions get in the way.

Ask yourself this: Do you feel a loss of control when you are around food?

A lot of times people do things (in this case, eat) strictly out of habit. I remember when I was a kid I used to come home from school and head immediately to the kitchen to annihilate the snack drawer. I was a chubster. Looking back on it, I can’t help but realize I was emotionally eating.

Believe it or not, I wasn’t always this cool and good looking. I got made fun of a lot by kids, security guards, teachers, and pretty much didn’t have any fun in high school, so to make up for it I stuffed my face with sweets the second I got home from school.

Nowadays when I feel like I am about flip my lid and go to Terri’s to buy some muffins (my vice), I immediately try to either do something productive like work out, or pause for a second and find out if I’m really hungry or just being emotional. If I am in fact hungry, I drink some water, think about how many calories I should eat at the moment, and carefully decide on a meal that will nourish me efficiently and satisfy me for the time being before I make a mistake with my diet for the day.

If you eat emotionally through some serious hard times like the loss of a friend, or the overwhelming stress of life, you are more liable to eat emotionally for the not so serious bad times in life.

Being stressed out at work is very common for my NYC clients. Some of them have turned to carbohydrate rich foods like pizza after another 15 hour work day. Why? Because studies have shown that huge amounts of carbs releases a chemical in your brain called Serotonin. Serotonin has been clinically shown to ease tension. This may feel good for the hour or two you are on your carb high, but what happens when the instant gratification of eating an unhealthy and fattening snack wears off and you realize you are now probably going to go over your CALORIC BUDGET for the day and you just NEGATED YOUR WORKOUT?

Boredom is an emotion. You are bored to tears at work or school so you hit up the candy machine and down a snickers bar. 271 calories of crap has just been released into your system, which include about 29 grams of PROCESSED SUGAR into your blood stream and suddenly life isn’t as boring. This is because high concentrations of processed sugar releases the brain chemical dopamine, which is known as “the feel good chemical.” But, once that sugar high crashes you will be feeling down and simply craving more of the same garbage that has put you in your current depressed state.

People at emotionally when they are feeling happy too, but it just leads to the same conclusion!

You just aced an exam or got a huge raise, so to celebrate you go out drinking with your friends. You drop about $50, and consume about 1000 calories worth of alcohol that will make you gain weight/lose strength gains.

Before you act on your emotions ask yourself these questions…

Do I REALLY need to eat that donut, or am I not even really hungry?

Is this hunger, or a craving for carbs I feel right now?

What are the long term effects going to be if I eat this bag of M&M’s?

Count to 10. Think before you do.

5 Tough As Nails Vegans

I think it’s a shame that some people out there who hear the word “vegan” automatically thinks of some scrawny, pale, weirdo with dandruff throwing red paint on old ladies wearing fur coats. I hear the word “vegan” and think of a very well educated, compassionate health nut, who can probably school the average guy on nutrition, and when I say nutrition, that also includes information on protein! Yes, that’s correct, vegans get plenty of protein!

One time I was in the gym and overheard one of the trainers telling their clients that in order to get big and strong they would have to eat a whole lot of chicken, eggs, and steak. I couldn’t help but cringe upon hearing this the same way a kid reacts to nails on a chalkboard.

I think the way my 6 foot frame wears my weight makes me appear to be a relatively lean guy. I know I personally am not much of a physical specimen that’s going to make jaws drop and strike fear in the hearts of men, but I know for a fact that for a 155 pound guy to Deadlift 225lbs and bench well over my body weight, I am a strong, healthy, and physically fit guy, who NEVER eats ANY meat or dairy! EVER!

I can honestly say I have never felt stronger, faster, and sharper mentally than I do nowadays and I attribute that to my diet. A plant based diet.

Here are my top 5 favorite vegan people.

1. Patrik Baboumiam

If you ever want to take up log throwing as a new hobby, talk to Germany’s Strongest Man Patrik Baboumiam!

Setting world records for the past two years, and wowing audiences with his awesome strength, Patrik’s record of the 397 pound log lift has yet to be broken, and he does it all on a plant based diet!

Um… I thought you needed steak and eggs to get big and strong?

NOPE!

Just listen to the friendly giant…

“being vegetarian makes you a better athlete!” -Patrik Baboumiam.

2. Jake Shields

The same guy that has the sickest Jui Jitsu in all of Mixed Martial Arts, is the last Rumble on the Rock 175 lb (79 kg) champion, the first and last Elite XC Welterweight Champion, the former Shooto Middleweight Champion, former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion, and the #3 ranked welterweight in the world, happens to be kick ass and take names on a plant based diet!

“But I thought, you needed steak and eg-” CHOKE OUT!

Overwhelming opponents from bell to bell for years with an exceptional record of 26-5-1, Jake Shields is definitely representing the tough-as-nails vegans of the world!

3. Rip Esselstyn

A Texas firefighter helped his whole team lower their cholesterol, and shed pounds away by turning them on to a plant based diet? In Texas? Awesome! Hey, if you’re in that line of work, I would hope you’re in top condition!

The physical test most firefighters are required to pass in order to be considered a candidate for the firefighting line of work consists of arduous work requiring above average physical fitness. Often the work is performed in extreme weather conditions and in a chaotic environment. These fitness tests, developed by exercise experts, measures aerobic capacity (endurance) and muscular fitness.

Rip Esselstyn, author of the Engine 2 diet, son of Dr. Esselstyn (author of the CHINA STUDY) climbs up and down the polls of his firehouse using only his arms while repeating the words “real men eat plants.”

Storming into houses ablaze while wearing heavy gear to rescue victims all on a plant based diet! That’s awesome! My only quam with Rip is that my girlfriend is obsessed with him.

4. John Joseph

Lead singer for one of my favorite New York Hardcore bands the Cro-Mags, author of one of my favorite books “Meat is for Pussies,” star of the Rocks Off Lower East Side walking tour, and everyone’s favorite tough guy!

If you’ve ever been to a Cro-Mags show, you might think John Joseph was half his age the way he runs around the stage screaming into the microphone like a psychopath! His contagious energy puts the twenty something year old mosh pitters to shame!

At 50 the guy continues to preform live shows, write books, do walking tours, AND is currently training for an Iron Man!

I hope by the time I’m his age I have half the energy this dude has.

5. Rich Roll

Hey, when was the last time you swam 6.2 miles, biked for 261.4 miles, and ran for 52.4 miles over the course of three days?

This three day event that I’m talking about is what’s known as the Ultraman race that takes place annually in Hawaii. Rich Roll, one of the 25 most fit guys of 2009 declared by Men’s Fitness magazines knows what I’m talking about!

Rich, who is an absolute endurance animal eats Ultraman competitions for breakfast with a side of Triathlons and a 5k to drink!

Do you know what this plant based maniac did for FUN in May of 2010? 5 consecutive days, each day consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run, known as the Epic Five. An unprecedented, totally crazy/awesome race for the absolutely elite endurance athletes of the world.

The one and only reason I mention the plant based lifestyle to my clients is this: It’s the healthiest way to live. Meat and dairy can cause cancer. Consuming meat and dairy can clog your arteries. Meat and dairy makes you fat. And coming from a guy who ate nothing but meat and dairy for the first 26 years of his life, take my word for it: Have an open mind, don’t get stuck in your ways, you’ve got to try this out! You may like the way you look, feel, and function!

Gut Check!

Reach down and grab your stomach fat (I’ll do it too)…

If it’s soft and flabby you have subcutaneous fat. This is the fat that’s directly underneath the skin. Granted, excess body fat is never healthy, but subcutaneous fat is not as threatening as visceral fat.

How do you know what type of fat you have around your stomach?

“Pinch an Inch”

Reach down and try to pinch your belly fat. If you can’t get a good hold of the fat around your stomach because it is hard, you have visceral fat.

Have you ever come across one of those Buddah statues with the big belly you’re supposed to rub for good luck? Let me tell you right now, if your belly protrudes from your body that much, and the fat around your abdominal region is hard as opposed to soft flabby fat, you don’t need luck, you need a lifestyle change immediately!

Visceral fat is also known as “organ fat,” meaning, there is fat all around your organs and even a little snaking it’s way into your muscles. In fact, think of a snake who wraps around it’s prey squeezing the life out of it before he swallows it whole. This is the equivalent of visceral fat wrapped around your organs, putting a tremendous amount of stress on them, forcing the liver, pancreas, and worst of all, your heart to work extra hard to function throughout the day but inevitably prevents them from performing up to their fullest capabilities.

Drinking like a fish, eating like a wild boar, never exercising… This is how you end up with a life threatening Buddah belly.

You are more likely to have clogged arteries, tumor growth, hypertension, and heart attacks if you have visceral fat.

Deprived of maximal cardiac output, not getting the most efficient muscle contractions you can get for strength training, irregular and obstructive sleep patterns… It’s like you are living life in a choke hold!

Back in my Jiu Jitsu days my Sensie would always say “The best way to defend against a choke hold is to never let your opponent get in a position to choke you in the first place! But, since this is a private $ession, I’ll show you a little trick!”

So, these are the tips to help you out of the choke hold…

All those saturated fats that are found in red meat, cheese, whole milk, and crap like bacon should be substituted with vegetables, whole grains, and fruit. Eat as raw as you can!

DO NOT DRINK ALCOHOL! If there was ever such a thing to help clog your arteries and stress your heart out it’s alcohol. Wait till you are out of a heart attack’s cross hairs to pop open a brew.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… EAT LESS & MOVE MORE!

Get your metabolism churning, get blood flowing throughout your entire body, burn calories, and shred that unnecessary, unwanted body fat! Exercise lowers your resting heart rate, it lowers your blood pressure, it lowers your cholesterol, and it gets rid of fatty deposits in your body that can impede in your every day activities!

Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables will help produce some great glucose and insulin responses to carbs which will start to mobilize fat stores easier than just eating something like steak. Quinoa, spinach, brown rice, apples… These foods will definitely speed up the process of saving you from an early grave! Eat the colors of the RAINBOW!

Why Fat Soluble/Water Soluable Multivitamins Suck

Now I already told you why MULTIVITAMINS don’t have the upper hand on a salad, but let me rant….

I started to read how many IU’s and mg’s each of the vitamins and minerals contained in the bottle when I was killing time before my next session, and some of these percentages were very alarming! Do you really need 333% of your RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of Vitamin E in one serving? The answer is NO!

I know there are some people out there with Vitamin D deficiencies or Iron deficiencies who need to take extra supplements in order to get their adequate amount of whatever vitamin/mineral they are deficient in. That’s ok. But, if you are healthy, and you are eating properly, YOU DON’T NEED TO BUY MULTIVITAMINS!

Especially since Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin!

Here is my problem with an excess amount of a fat-soluble vitamin… These vitamins are stored in the liver, and taking a fat-soluble vitamin (Such as A, D, E, K…) in excess can be toxic for your body! Granted, it’s unlikely that you may die from an overdose from these vitamins, but who wants to be walking around with blurred vision, nausea, constipation, achy bones, or other side effects from taking too many of these vitamins?

The other vitamins you can consume are water-soluble vitamins. Here is my problem with an excess amount of water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C, the B’s, and Niacin. They not STORED anywhere in excess, so if you take more than your body needs at the point of consumption, you just excrete the remaining IU’s or mg’s of that vitamin out of your body!

What a waste!