Skinny Fat

Exercise, Nutrition, Weight Loss No Comments »

What the heck does it mean to be “skinny fat”?

Here is a simple way to describe it: Normal or low body weight, high body fat (as a percentage), and low amount of muscle.

Someone who is skinny fat might seem like they have a fast metabolism, but everything they eat either goes right through them, or what does stick becomes a double chin, muffin top, or squishy butt.

muffin top

Skinny fat can be the result of excessive cardio training without resistance training to keep/build muscle, or else it’s the result of very low physical activity coupled with low food intake.  (Since both end up at skinny fat, seems like it’d be easier to eat less than to do all the cardio, right?)

Skinny fatters are usually quite weak, since they don’t have any lean muscle.

One of the biggest mistakes someone who is skinny fat can make is to try to do lots more cardio to burn off the fat, be it muffin top, booty, or neck.  But that shuts down muscle building/toning and can even cause muscle breakdown, enlarging the disparity between lean muscle and body fat – which makes the skinny fat dilemma even worse.

All the cardio is doing is using the nutrients taken in to fuel the activity, instead of using them to build muscle.

Fashion Week in Rio, Brazil - 17 Apr 2013

And skinny fatters can’t firm up much by just eating more, even if they’re just rocking protein and veggies six times a day.  It might work a bit, but the skinny fat solution is to focus on building muscle and tightening everything up, THEN embarking on a strategic fat loss plan (that probably won’t involve too much cardio training).

Besides robbing the body of nutrients needed for building muscle, excessive cardio also robs the exerciser of the energy needed for productive muscle building workouts.  The bod can really only focus on one goal at a time.

The trick is hard weight training and eating enough (of the right foods) to gain muscle without “overfilling the cup” and having it spill over into fat storage.  It’s a narrow line to walk, but it’s not too difficult for someone to find their sweet spot if they train hard, eat right, and pay attention to what’s going on in their body.

Most skinny fatters fear that a strategy like the one outlined above will make them fatter and heavier.  It might add a few pounds of lean and toned muscle, but it won’t make anyone into a heavyweight.  In fact, a skinny fatter who adds a few pounds of muscle will look leaner.  (It will also give them more strength, health, and longevity… but today the focus is on appearance :))


Let’s take a bird’s eye view of what would change… Our hypothetical skinny fat subject weighs 120 pounds and has 30% bodyfat.  They are doing cardio four times a week in the “aerobic” zone and following a low-fat intermittent fasting plan (which is often just a way to disguise the beginnings of an eating disorder).  Now our subject has decided that they want to firm thing up and look better both in and out of clothes.  What might their new plan look like?

For starters, there needs to be some resistance training.  Bodyweight exercises, machines, dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, whatever.  Something has to be moved against the resistance of gravity with a goal of building some muscle and strength.  Three or four sessions a week.

Next, dropping the long and slow cardio for a few sets of hard intervals.  This will keep the metabolism revving and tell the body to hang on to muscle to power through the sprints.  Two or three short and hard sessions a week.

Finally, nutrition.  Focusing on protein with the right mix of carbs and fats to build strength and health.  Four or five smallish meals packed full of nutrition spread evenly through the day.  The low fat/intermittent fasting plan doesn’t give enough nutrients to build lean muscle

Making these changes is the way for someone suffering from skinny fat syndrome to become tight and lean.

Have fun!

Add Fat To Lower Insulin Response? Nope

Health, Nutrition, Weight Loss No Comments »

It’s time to clear something up.

Books, magazines, and weight loss courses have all been spreading a bit of misinformation about eating fats and your body’s insulin response.

After vilifying  insulin response to foods, “experts” are recommending adding healthy fats to carbohydrates to reduce insulin in your blood after meals.  Here are just 3 examples I’ve seen today:

  • Adding peanut butter to your whole grain english muffin
  • Adding butter to your baked potato
  • Adding sesame oil to your steamed rice

english muffin with peanut butter

The idea is that the fats will slow/level out the rise in blood sugar in prevent a big insulin release after eating.


Fat doesn’t cause an immediate insulin response, it’s true.  But when added to a protein or carbohydrate, fat either has no effect on insulin response or else it slightly increases insulin response.

Sorry, but it doesn’t slow insulin down.

But there’s good news!  When fat REPLACES an equal caloric amount of carbohydrates, the insulin response is reduced.

To really make it clear, let’s use one of the examples above.  If you add butter to your baked potato, your insulin response will be the same or a little greater than if you ate the baked potato alone.  But if you eat half a potato with butter (even if you replace, calorie for calorie the butter for half a potato) your insulin response will be much lower than if you ate the whole potato plain.

baked potato guinea pig

So the key to using fats to lower insulin response isn’t in adding them to the meal, as if they were an anchor being dragged to slow your food.  The key is to exchange carbohydrates for fat to produce lower insulin levels.

Most of the confusion comes from people’s failure to recognize the difference between adding fat versus substituting fat.

See, adding fat to a meal does (in fact) slow down the rise in blood sugar that follows eating carbohydrates.  Since your insulin response is usually – in healthy people – aligned with the rise in blood sugar, it makes total sense to assume that adding fat to a meal would reduce the insulin response to that meal.

It makes sense, but that isn’t what actually happens!

As I said before, it turns out that insulin is either not affected or it rises with the addition of fat to carbohydrates.

(This is probably related to gastric inhibitory polypeptide, which is a hormone secreted from the pancreas in response to eating fat and which can heighten insulin reaction)

What about the insulin effects of protein?  Everything so far has focused on carbohydrates.  Well, first off, protein doesn’t raise insulin levels as much as carbohydrate… not by a long shot.

But it does affect insulin levels a little (about 30% as much as carbohydrate).  There are three main factors that determine your insulin response to protein:

1.  Fat Content.  The more fat versus protein, the lower your insulin response.

2. Amino Acid Profile.  Sources that are higher in lysine (example: beef) bring on more insulin than other protein sources

3. Processing.  The more processed your protein is, the more it will raise your insulin.  Ground beef doesn’t require as much digestion as steak, so it enters your bloodstream more rapidly.  (Ground meat actually ends up giving you more calories as well, because you don’t use up as much energy during the digestion process.  For a fascinating look at how cooking and grinding food shaped human evolution, I recommend reading Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human)

t bone steak

Fortunately, protein stimulates glucagon release as well, so you don’t need to worry as much about the insulinogenic properties of protein as you do about carbohydrates.  (If you don’t know much about glucagon, think of it as the opposite of insulin).

What does all this mean from a practical standpoint?  How then can you control the insulin response to bread, protatoes, rice – to go with the examples from earlier in this post?

In fact, why worry about the insulin response to carbohydrates at all?

Well, to control the insulin response from carbs… stop eating so many carbs!  Use the insulin response with strategically timed meals, after a workout or as part of a carb cyling plan, for example.

turtle eating strawberry

And you should be concerned about bumping insulin when you’re eating fat because when fat is consumed while your body is in fat-storage mode (high insulin), it is more likely to end up as bodyfat.

When your insulin levels are high, everything you eat is more liable to end up in your fat stores.  Fat especially heads straight for your fat cells when your insulin is high, especially because insulin causes fat burning to stop.

Translation: Fat is fattening IF you are in a fat storing mode (high insulin).

Your solution is to not eat fat when your insulin levels are high, and keeping carbs low the rest of the time.  You want to keep fat and insulin producing carbs apart from each other.

One situation would be to have protein and fat at every meal except for one or two meals right after your workout.  Here’s a sample schedule:

7 am: Protein + Fat

11 am: Protein + Fat

2 pm: Protein + Fat

4 pm: Workout

5 pm: Protein + Carbs

7 pm: Protein + Carbs

Or if you workout in the morning:

6 am: Workout

7 am: Protein + Carbs

10 am: Protein + Carbs

1 pm: Protein + Fat

4 pm: Protein + Fat

7 pm: Protein + Fat

Another option is to have higher carb “refeeds” every few days.  This is a good strategy when you’re looking to gain muscle and lose fat.

Day One: Several moderate protein, moderate fat meals

Day Two: Same as Day One

Day Three: Moderate protein, low fat meals during the day, 3 hour high carb, low protein, minimal fat refeed after your workout

Day Four: Same as Day One

Day Five: Same as Day One

Day Six: Same as Day One

Day Seven: Moderate protein, low fat meals during the day, 3 hour high carb, low protein, minimal fat refeed after your workout

food log body

What a plan like this does is keep you in fat burning mode most of the time, but still bump insulin to keep you anabolic and allow you to build muscle.  If you have more fat to lose, you’d want to go longer between refeeds.  If you’re already lean and looking to build muscle, you can have your refeeds closer together.

So to loop back to the original point of this post, adding fat to carbs doesn’t benefit you from a hormonal standpoint, in fact, it makes it more likely you’re going to store that meal as fat.

EDIT: I was asked why, if adding fat to meals doesn’t help with insulin, does adding fat make you feel fuller longer?

The answer is simple: You ate more calories!

Protein: The Coolest Nutrient?

Health, Nutrition, Weight Loss 2 Comments »

I think protein is awesome.

It does all sorts of cool stuff in your body:

  • It forms antibodies to protect you when viruses and bacteria wanna play dirty
  • It forms enzymes to help you digest your food
  • It builds your body, from muscles and bones to organs and connective tissue
  • It carries oxygen through your blood and delivers it to your organs and muscles
  • It forms hormones to tell your body when to burn food for energy and when to store it as fat

protein molecule is awesome

Protein is like the all-star kid from high school that letters in every sport, gets straight As, plays in the band, leads the debate team, and still has time to organize a blood drive and parade.  In short, it’s a versatile superstar.

You should make getting quality protein the number one foundation of your diet because it does so much for you.  Plus…

Protein burns more calories.  Your body has to break down foods to get at the nutrients and energy in the food.  Protein takes about twice as much energy to break down as carbohydrate.  So getting at the energy in the food costs more energy and you use a lot more calories to do it.  When you eat more protein (in place of carbs and fats) you burn more calories all day.

Protein is delicious.  Lobster.  Steak.  Chicken.  Salmon.  Shrimp.  Oooh yeah.  When your diet is built around super-tasty food it’s a lot easier to stick to.

steak steak steak

Protein attacks belly fat.  Well, not directly… But a high-protein diet helps you body control cortisol, a “stress hormone” that leads to fat storage on your abs and upper back.  Less cortisol = less body fat.

Protein satisfies.  You feel full faster when you eat a high protein meal.  I can eat a plate full of cookies in nothing flat. Eating a can of salmon though?  It’s tough!  The fullness will help keep you from overeating.  Plus, high-protein meals keep you satisfied longer, so you’re not starving again an hour later (like you would be after the cookie binge).

Protein helps you firm up.  The lean, toned muscle you build from working out?  Yeah, it’s made from protein.  When you exercise, you create tiny little tears in your muscles.  To repair these tears, your body needs protein.  So if you wanna tone up, you need protein.  Lots of protein.  (And when your body is rebuilding proteins, it’s totally in fat burning mode too.  Win win situation.)

getting toned

That’s five good reasons to make protein the cornerstone of your diet.  Combine them and you can see how focusing on protein will get you burning fat and toning up.

A few tips to help you get the most from protein:

  • ALL plant proteins are incomplete protein sources (yes, even soy).  Get complete protein from animal foods.
  • Choose the wildest meat you can find.
  • Most protein drinks are loaded with fillers and other junky chemicals.  If you supplement with protein powders, read the labels carefully.
  • Your minimum protein intake should be one gram of protein for every pound you weigh.  Ex: If you weigh 150 pounds, get at least 150 grams of protein.
  • Protein is a mild diuretic, so drink lots of water when on a high-protein diet.
  • If you have gout or are diabetic, work with a doctor or nutritionist to plan your diet.
  • Make your protein as delicious as possible.  Try new foods, use lots of spices, keep things interesting

Have fun and go eat some protein!

Weight Loss Plateau? Try This French “Scale Shocker” Program

Nutrition, Strategies, Weight Loss 1 Comment »

Sometimes the numbers on your scale stop going down.

And it’s super lame.

You’ve been following your diet plan faithfully, exercising, taking your supplements, and staying motivated… but then your weight just refuses to budge.

flat plateau

This is your “drop-out-of-the-diet” danger zone.

When your weight loss stagnates, your motivation drops.  And when your motivation drops, temptations become much more tempting.

A lot of people hit a plateau and then give up.  Or they fall off their plan, gain some weight, start dieting again, hit a plateau, fall off their plan, gain some weight, and on and on ad infinitum.

Every time you gain the weight back it’s going to want to come off a little slower next time.

stop giving up

So breaking through this weight loss plateau is critical to your success.

As soon as your scale needles starts moving again, your motivation will come back and you’ll be ready to keep going.

The following comes from The Dukan Diet: 2 Steps to Lose the Weight, 2 Steps to Keep It Off Forever, which is billed as “The Real Reason The French Stay Slim.”

  • 4 Days of pure lean proteins without any deviation
  • Restricting salt intake as much as possible
  • Minimum 2 quarts of water with a low mineral content
  • Getting to sleep as early as possible (sleep before midnight is much more beneficial than after)
  • Adding a gentle herbal diuretic to eliminate any hidden water retention
  • Walking for 60 minutes a day for 4 days

This shock/blitz/jumpstart/kickstart program is a great way for you to break through your weight loss plateau.  And it’s totally paleo-friendly :)

help scale

Just a few more tips from me:

  • Organic and grassfed lean proteins are going to work much better for you on this plan
  • Mrs. Dash is your friend when you can’t use salt
  • Distilled water seems to increase the power of the kickstart
  • Check out this post for tips on improving your sleep: Sleep, Weight Loss, And Health
  • My favorite gentle diuretic is a salad made from Dandelion Leaves, they’re bitter but they work great (Check your organic produce section, eat them raw)
  • Walking is the final key to this strategy, don’t skip it!

Now remember, this isn’t the long term final solution… It is a tool to get your weight loss moving again.  Follow the 4 day prescription to the letter and then get back on your normal weight loss diet.

EDIT: Someone asked if this would work to use right before a big event where you want to look your best.  Well… yes, but that’s not what it’s designed for.  If you do use this as a get-ready-for-a-big-event plan, promise me that it’s a one-time deal and you’ll do your best to get in shape so that you’re always ready for a big event, ok?

think about why you started diet

Simple Health And Weight Loss To Do List

Health, Nutrition, Strategies, Weight Loss No Comments »

Small changes made and sustained over time are a much easier way to lose weight than crash diets.

Sure, you might not lose weight as quickly as your friend who is eating only 2 apricots a day, but you’ll lose the excess weight painlessly, and the results will last (no more rebounding after a crash diet!)

With the overarching goals of being stressless and sustainable, here are some simple changes that will help you transform your body and your health:

  • Cook more, eat out less.
  • Think about good things to eat. (Instead of worrying about bad things to eat)
  • Eat what’s in-season for maximum flavor and value.  Availability doesn’t equal quality.  (Eating in-season is better for the environment as well)
  • Explore farmer’s markets, co-ops, and ethnic markets.
  • Take the stairs.  Park farther out.  Add as much non-exercise movement as you can.
  • Don’t watch much TV. (Or spend forever on Facebook)
  • Experiment with herbs, spices, and other taste-makers to discover new flavors and make meals seem new.  (I never used coriander or cardamom before making Paleo Butter Chicken, now they’re two of my favorite spices)
  • Eat smaller portions of more things, instead of larger portions of fewer things.
  • Eat more vegetables.
  • Eat more fruit.
  • Drink more water.
  • Walk everywhere you can.
  • Present your food appealingly, even if you’re just serving yourself.
  • Don’t eat “fat free” or “sugar free.”  Stay away from artificial flavors.  Instead, enjoy the real thing in moderation.
  • Indulge healthfully – see this post: Coffee, Chocolate, And Red Wine
  • Drink lots and lots of water.
  • Plan meals in advance.
  • Choose your own indulgences and compensations.
  • Don’t follow media fads.
  • Laugh more.  (True laughter leads to positive hormonal changes)
  • Use all five of your senses while you’re eating and less will seem like more.
  • If you choose to exercise in addition to moving more, choose something you enjoy that motivates you.
  • Use clothing and the mirror to keep track of your body shape, not the scale.
  • If you slip up on your plan, just come back.  Don’t focus on the negative.
  • Don’t snack all the time.
  • Never get too hungry.
  • Never get too full.
  • Never eat standing up, walking, in front of the TV, in front of the computer, or while driving.
  • Train your taste buds.
  • Sleep more.  But not too much.
  • Get more sunshine and fresh air.

3 Beginner Interval Workouts For Fat Loss

Exercise, Interval Training, Weight Loss No Comments »

Interval training beats the pants off traditional steady-state cardio when it comes to weight loss, improved fitness, and health.

The problem is that lots of articles and books I’ve read want to start you off with brutally high intensity sprints and short, short rests.

Yes, that’s taking things to the next level.  But if you’re brand new to exercising there are two main problems with these super hard, short sprints:

Too much, too soon.  I know people who have passed out on their second high intensity 20 second interval because they were pushing too hard.  Intensity is awesome, but give your body a chance to get used to the idea before you go all out.  (Interval training benefits can be had from walking if you’re a beginner, so don’t blow a gasket trying to be Usain Bolt)

Can’t push hard enough for the benefits.  The infamous Tabata protocol used an intensity of 170% of the subject’s maximum oxygen uptake.  Visualize your lungs and heart going at 100%.  Now add 70% on top of that!  If you’re not pushing that hard, you won’t see the same results.  Most of us simply can’t go at 170% yet.

So, what to do?

Start off with proven, effective interval training plans for weight loss and fitness.  As you get fitter, you’ll be able to push harder and see even more benefits.

elliptical machines

There are 3 interval training plans for beginners below.  You can do them any way you want.  Fast walk, slow walk.  Elliptical, treadmill, spin bike.  Jogging, running.  (If you use cardio machines, don’t choose the “Interval” setting.  Choose “Manual” and control the intensity by adjusting it yourself)

Beginner Interval Workout 1: Standard Intervals

This is probably the most popular interval training workout for fat loss out there, and it’s very simple:

  • 5 min warmup at low intensity (increase slightly as you get warm and loose)
  • 1 min moderate to high intensity followed by 1 minute low intensity (repeat 5-8 times)
  • 5 min cooldown

The first time you do this, start with moderate intensity for the work intervals and only do 5 repeats.  As you progress you can either add more repeats of the mod/low cycle or else increase the intensity of the faster interval.

Beginner Interval Workout 2: Pyramid Intervals

Pyramid intervals have you starting off with shorter efforts, increasing each time.  Then you work your way back down.  Here’s an example:

  • 5 min warmup at low intensity
  • 30 seconds high intensity
  • 1 min low intensity
  • 45 seconds high intensity
  • 1 min low intensity
  • 1 min high intensity
  • 1 minute low intensity
  • 90 seconds high intensity
  • 1 minute low intensity
  • 1 minute high intensity
  • 1 minute low intensity
  • 45 seconds high intensity
  • 1 minute low intensity
  • 30 seconds high intensity
  • 5 min cooldown

You can progress on these by pushing harder on the high intensity periods, by adding a steps to the pyramid, or by cutting down the recovery periods (example: 50 seconds instead of 60)

sprint in desert

Beginner Interval Workout 3: Sporty Intervals

This workout mimics the unpredictable nature of sports.  You use different times and different intensities.  Think of it like the sprinting and jogging in a basketball or soccer game.

  • 5 min warm up
  • 2 minutes high intensity followed by 2 minutes low intensity (repeat once)
  • 30 seconds high intensity followed by 30 seconds low intensity (repeat four times total)
  • 10 seconds very high intensity followed by 50 seconds very low intensity (repeat 5-10 times)
  • 5 min cooldown

You can “mix and match” this workout.  For example, do 2 min high intensity, 2 min low, 30 high, 30 low, 10 very high, 50 low, repeat.

Also, you can progress by adding repeats or pushing harder on the higher intensity work periods.

When To Do These Workouts

Do these workouts either after your regular resistance training sessions, later in the day (ex: weights in the morning, intervals in the evening), or on the days where you don’t lift weights.

Since resistance training is of higher value for fitness and losing weight than intervals, you don’t want to do the intervals first and tire yourself out.

More Information On Intervals

Check out these posts to learn more about interval training:

More interval training workouts: Interval Training For Extreme Fat Loss

Intervals can cut your workout time by 90%: Important News For People Who Hate Long And Boring Cardio

How to make sure you aren’t sabotaging your interval training sessions: What To Do During “Rest” Periods

Interval training, tempo training, and steady-state training are all covered here: Effective Cardio Training

Simple interval workout for joggers and 5k runners: Improve Your Race Times By Running Less

Which training method will increase your heart power?: Endurance vs Intervals (Study)

spinning class intervals

Sleep, Weight Loss, And Health

Health, Strategies, Weight Loss 5 Comments »

Lack of sleep and chronic stress come together.

Not sleeping makes you stressed and stress makes you lose sleep (which leads to more stress…)

Here’s some bad news: sleep deprivation and stress both play a role in struggling with weight loss and health problems.

Most people who are trying to lose weight never stop to think about the effects that missing sleep can have on their body.

Some people think that staying up longer can help them lose weight because they might be able to burn more calories. In fact, the opposite is true: a good night’s sleep actually helps you achieve a healthy weight, while a lack of sleep makes losing weight more difficult. (And people don’t realize one of the clearest truths about sleeping – when you’re asleep, you’re not eating!)

Not only does sleeping refresh your brain – so you can make clear decisions about food choices the next day – sleep (or a lack thereof), affects your metabolism, your hormones, and your immune system. All together these have a powerful affect on your health and weight.

Consider the following:

– A large study that followed more than 68,000 women for 16 years showed that women who slept less than 7 hours per night put on more weight than those who slept at least 7 hours. Additionally, women who slept only 5 hours per night were 33% more likely to gain significant weight (33 pounds or more).

– Sleep deprivation impairs insulin sensitivity, impairs carbohydrate tolerance, increases ghrelin (appetite hormone), decreases leptin, and increases cortisol.

– Research has shown that about 7 hours of QUALITY sleep are necessary for weight control and good health. Chronic sleep deprivation accelerates the onset and increases the symptoms of aging – including memory loss, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.

– Less than 4 hours of sleep in one night, or chronic sleep loss, has been shown to have a negative effect on carbohydrate metabolism. Put simply, carbs make you fatter if you’re missing sleep!

– A study found that adults who slept 4 hours or less per night are 73% more likely to be obese than those who slept between 7 and 9 hours per night. Sleeping between 5 and 6 hours per night leads to a 50% greater risk of being overweight and a 23% greater risk of being obese.

Missing sleep occasionally can be overcome, missing sleep every night (or almost every night!) is what starts to damage your body.

What you need to do is make a plan for getting at least 7 hours of restful sleep every night. Here are some tips to help:

  1. No TV near bedtime and ABSOLUTELY no TV in the bedroom
  2. Make sure your bedroom has good window coverings (for darkness), is uncluttered, and well ventilated.
  3. Create a “wind-down” ritual before bed.  Try herbal tea, dimmed lights, journaling, or a warm bath.
  4. Take calcium and magnesium before bed.
  5. No working or studying in bed.  Beds are for sex and sleep.
  6. Try aromatherapy – lavender helps with relaxation.
  7. Avoid eating right before bed, and try to have 3 hours between bedtime and your last big meal.
  8. Alcohol lowers sleep quality, so limit or avoid alcoholic drinks within a few hours of bedtime.
  9. A cooler room helps promote deeper sleep.
  10. Leave your worries outside the door – make your bedroom a stress-free zone.
  11. Guided imagery, progressive relaxation, meditation, and breathing exercises can all help with sleep.
  12. Caffeine interferes with sleep (it is a stimulant and also affects your production of the sleep hormone melatonin).  Time your intake so you can fall asleep easily.  This might mean no caffeine after 3pm, or it might mean no caffeine after 11am.  Everyone is different.
  13. Try using a sleep mask for perfect darkness.
  14. Invest in a comfortable pillow and mattress.
  15. Get a quality alarm with a back up battery so you won’t stress about sleeping in.
  16. Have white noise.  A fan, air purifier, or white noise machine are all good choices.
  17. Put blue light filters on all electronic screens in your home.  The blue light from monitors, laptops, and TVs simulates sunlight and blocks the release of melatonin.
  18. Paint and decorate your bedroom with serene and restful colors.
  19. Practice regular rhythms of sleep.  Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
  20. Keep your room dust-free.  Keep pets out of the bedroom at all times and consider getting an air filtering system.
  21. Get exposure to sunlight on your body and face as soon as possible after waking.  This helps tell your body it is time to wake up and enhances your sleep rhythm.
  22. Use a hot rice pack on your solar plexus (just below your rib cage) – this helps trigger your body chemistry for sleep.  (Cuddling a partner works too)
  23. Try herbal supplements before bed: Valerian Root, Kava Kava, Passionflower, Chamomile, and Lemon Balm all help with sleep.
  24. Get tested.  The most common and underdiagnosed sleep disorder is sleep apnea.  If you experience excessive daytime sleepiness, fatgiue, snoring, or have been seen to momentarily stop breathing during the night, get tested by a sleep lab.  (Sleep apnea greatly raises your risk of hypertension and heart disease)

Getting enough quality sleep will not only make you healthier, help you de-stress, and speed up weight loss, it will recharge you so that you can enjoy everything that life has to offer.

Health Study: Soda Makes You Fat

Health, Nutrition, Study, Weight Loss No Comments »

A six-month Danish study compared the effects of drinking soda to the effects of milk, diet soda, or water.

After the six months, the soda group was significantly higher in:

The study’s conclusion says: Daily intake of sugar-sweetened beverages for 6 months increases ectopic fat accumulation and lipids compared with milk, diet cola, and water. Thus, daily intake of soda is likely to enhance the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

If you’re interested in the study, here is the citation:

Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Feb;95(2):283-9. Epub 2011 Dec 28.
Sucrose-sweetened beverages increase fat storage in the liver, muscle, and visceral fat depot: a 6-mo randomized intervention study.
Maersk M, Belza A, Stødkilde-Jørgensen H, Ringgaard S, Chabanova E, Thomsen H, Pedersen SB, Astrup A, Richelsen B.
Department of Endocrinology and Internal Medicine MEA, Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark.

Another interesting soda study: Kids And Soft Drinks

Want To Lose Fat? Don’t Ignore Your Muscles!

Exercise, Health, Weight Loss 1 Comment »

Most of the fat loss exercise programs you see in the media are making a big mistake…

They ignore the most IMPORTANT thing for fat loss:

your muscles.

In fact, most of the cardio-centric magazine routines you read will actually cause you to lose muscle, which makes burning off fat much, much harder than it should be.

(Metabolic muscle tissue = much easier fat loss)

Most people don’t even think about muscle during a fat loss program – but YOU should!

Here are five reasons muscle will help you lose more fat:

1. Having more muscle means you’ll burn more calories during your workout.

With more muscle you’ll burn more during any type of workout: yoga, cardio, weightlifting, walking, whatever.  You’ll get a lot more bang for your buck whenever you’re moving.

2. Working your muscles also means you’ll burn more calories when you’re NOT working out

Ask an exercise scientist how many Calories a pound of muscle burns per day and you’ll probably hear “A pound of muscle burns 50 Calories a day”

Actually, studies have shown a burn from anywhere between 35 and 65 Calories per day, so 50 is a good average.

That means if you add two pounds of lean, toned muscle to your body, you’ll burn an extra 700 Calories a week.

It might not sound like much, but 700 Calories a week means a pound of fat burned every 5 weeks, or… more than 10 extra pounds lost in a year.

 3. Muscle is what gives your body its shape.

Muscle is the difference between having a butt and having a booty.

Without muscle your body will be flat, flabby, and squishy.  Having muscle is what gives your body the lean, fit look.

4.  Training your muscles (instead of just cardio) is more fun…

…and if your workout plan is more stimulating, you’ll stick with it longer.

Plus, training more athletically will improve “neuromuscular efficiency,” which means you’ll be using more muscle in everything you do.  So, to go back to point #1 above, you’ll burn more calories with more muscle, but if you can activate even MORE muscle, you’ll burn even MORE calories.

5. Tone.

“Tone” is so overused I hate to even bring it up.  First, let me say that there’s no such thing as a “toning” workout with just light weights.

The way to get toned muscles is to have some muscle shape (#3 above) and less body fat.

Tone actually refers to your nervous system’s link to your muscles.  If there’s a high electrical potential in the nerves leading to a muscle it is more ready to flex than if there’s low potential.  This is tone.

Take the butt as an example: someone can be thin and flabby at the same time – they’ll have kind of a droopy butt despite not being overweight.

Now take someone who has some butt muscles and they’re primed from deep squats, jumps, sprints, etc – the butt muscles will be lifted and shaped.

So to make “tone” work for you, lose fat and train like an athlete.

The bottom line is that if you want to burn more fat and look great, train your muscles, don’t break them down with hours on a cardio machine.

(I’ve written about the benefits of lean muscle before, check it out here: Get Some Firmness On Your Frame)

4 Wild Substances To Burn Your Belly Fat

Nutrition, Weight Loss No Comments »

Most of us don’t just want to lose “weight”. We want to lose body fat. This is what really concerns us, cosmetically speaking, at least.

Body fat, referred to by scientists as adipose tissue, is the stuff that can hide shapely, defined muscles from view, make your bikini fit awkwardly (or not at all), put rolls on your belly, and so on. To lose body fat and prevent it from finding you again, you must burn more of it than you store. When you achieve this scientists say you are in negative fat balance, and it can be a very positive thing. Indeed, if you stay in negative fat balance long enough, then you will unquestionably lose body fat.

4 Wild Substances That Fight Belly Fat <- Click Here To Read The List