If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Another: Scoping Out Nutrient Deficiencies

Health, Nutrition 1 Comment »

Why take supplements like a multi-vitamin if you’re eating a great and varied diet?

Even with a perfect nutrition plan, it’s likely that you’re going to be lacking in some vital nutrients.

For example, soil depletion means that even locally raised organic veggies have one-tenth the amount of nutrients that they used to.  (For a scary look at what soil depletion has done to the value of our food, read Empty Harvest by Dr. Bernard Jensen)

Eating a less-than-perfect diet for a long time can lead to deficiencies that need to be built back up.  A fast-food junkie with a severe shortage of omega-3s who starts eating wild salmon in her 30s will still need big doses of omega-3s to make up for 35 years of suboptimal eating.

Medications can cause nutrient absorption problems, so supplementation is necessary to keep a balance.

And finally, certain types of exercise can lead to nutrient deficiencies due to overtaxing your biochemical systems.

Here are some medications/drugs that can cause deficiencies, if you take (or have taken) any of them, supplementation may be the final key you need to start getting your health and body right where you want them.

Drugs And Nutrient Deficiencies

Drug: Clenbuterol

Used For: Asthma, Weight Loss

Deficiencies Caused: Taurine, Magnesium

Drug: Anabolic/Androgenic Steroids

Used For: Muscular Growth, Immune Disease, Athletic Performance, Wasting Disease

Deficiencies Caused: Vitamins B-6, B-9, B-12, C, & D

Drug: Metformin

Used For: Type 2 Diabetes

Deficiencies Caused: Vitamin B-12, Folic Acid

Drug: Anti-inflammatories

Used For: Pain, Adrenal Insufficiency, Rashes, Asthma, Hepatitis, Lupus, Crohn’s Disease, Eye Inflammation, Arthritis

Deficiencies Caused: Calcium, DHEA, Magnesium, Melatonin, Potassium, Protein, Selenium, Zinc, Vitamins: B-6, B-9, B-12, C, D

Drug: Anticoagulants (Coumadin)

Used For: Preventing Blood Clots, Atrial Fibrillation

Deficiencies Caused: Vitamins E & K

Drug: Anti-psychotics

Used For: Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia

Deficiencies Caused: Vitamins D & B-2

Drug: Chemotherapy

Used For: Cancer Treatment

Deficiencies Caused: Folic Acid

Drug: Nitrous Oxide

Used For: Recreational, Anesthesia

Deficiencies Caused: Vitamin B-12

Drug: Cholestyramine

Used For: High Cholesterol

Deficiencies Caused: Vitamins A, D, E, & K (all fat soluble vitamins)

Drug: Anticonvulsants

Used For: Epilepsy, Bipolar Disorder

Deficiencies Caused: Biotin, Folic Acid, Vitamins: B-6, D, & K

Drug: Heartburn And Anti-Ulcer Medications

Used For: Heartburn, Ulcers

Deficiencies Caused: Folic Acid, Vitamins: B-12 & D, Minerals: Calcium, Iron, Zinc

Drug: Alcohol

Used For: Recreation, Heart Health

Deficiencies Caused: Folic Acid, Thiamine, Vitamin B-6

Drug: Antidepressants

Used For: Depression

Deficiencies Caused: Vitamin B-2

Drug: Antibiotics

Used For: Bacterial Infections

Deficiencies Caused: Folic Acid, B Vitamins, Vitamins D & K

Drug: Stimulants (including caffeine)

Used For: Alertness, Recreation

Deficiencies Caused: Molybdenum, Potassium, Magnesium, Vitamins B-5 & C

Drug: Oral Contraceptives

Used For: Birth Control

Deficiencies Caused: Zinc, Magnesium, Folic Acid, Vitamins: B-2, B-6, B-12, & C

If you are taking or have taken any of these drugs, a simple supplement to address any deficiencies will allow your system to start working the way it is supposed to, making health and a healthy weight MUCH easier to maintain!

Must See Video: Minding Your Mitochondria

Health, Nutrition, Strategies 2 Comments »

Imagine going from being a tae kwon do champion to having stage two multiple sclerosis and being confined to a wheel chair.

Now add in chemotherapy and extensive drug treatments only to keep getting worse…

What if you could fix yourself and reverse your disease with… food?

That is exactly what Dr. Terry Wahls did.

This video is definitely a must-see if you want to take care of your health, your energy, and your vitality.

Please check it out:

I watched it twice, the second time to take some notes for you:

2000 diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis

Took the latest drugs.

By 2003 it had progressed to stage 2. She took the chemotherapy and got a motorized wheelchair.

Tried more drugs, became more diasbled.

Afraid of becoming disabled.

Found out that brains with MS shrank.

Started finding more research about shrinking brains, found that the mitochondria don’t work well, which leads to shrinking brains.

Found studies that showed mouse brains and mitochondria had been protected by using fish oil, creatine, and co-enzyme Q 10.

Slowed her decline by translating the mouse-sized doses into human sized ones.

Was happy, but was still declining.

There are a billion cells in our brains, with trillions of connections. All of those connections must be insulated by myelin.

In order to make myelin, your body needs B vitamins, especially B1, B9, and B12. It also needs omega 3 fatty acids and iodine.

For your body to make neurotransmitters, it needs vitamin B6 and sulfur.

The energy for each cell in your body comes from mitochondria. Without the energy from your mitochondria, you would be no larger than bacteria.

In medical school, Dr. Wahls learned all about mitochondria, but she wasn’t taught what her body could make compared to what she needed to consume to make those mitochondrial systems run properly.

She found that out mitochondria need lots of B vitamins, sulfur, and antioxidants in order to thrive.

First, she added in the nutrients with supplements, then came to the realization that getting her nutrients from foods would provide her with hundreds, maybe thousands of trace compounds also needed for health.

Medical and nutrition textbooks didn’t tell her food sources, but internet research led her to design an eating plan that would support her brain and mitochondria.

She then quizzes the audience on how many fruits and vegetables they ate.

Then she shows how Americans are eating too few nutrients and too many starches.

“We are all starving ourselves. We are alive because of complicated chemical reactions. If you’re not providing the building blocks – that is the vitamins, minerals, essential fats – those reactions cannot happen properly. Leading to the wrong stuctures being made… or structures simply not being made at all, which sets the stage for chronic disease.”

Due to lack of nutrients children are born with smaller brains and smaller jaws that lead to crooked teeth.

This is why blood vessels become stiff as you age.

This is why children will become obese or diabetic as children or young adults.

This is why the number of children with learning problems and behavior problems are becoming more common each year.

For 2.5 million years humans ate what they could hunt and gather – leaves, berries, meat, and fish.

Hunter-gatherer foods were locally obtained, fresh, in season, and of course, organic.

People in the arctic ate differently than people on the savannah, but both groups exceeded the RDA of nutrients by 2 to 10 fold.

“These ancient peoples know more about eating for optimal health and vitality than we physicians and we scientists.”

The hunter-gather diet has more nutrition than any modern health diet.

Dr. Wahls started on a paleo diet, but she structured it to make sure she was supporting her mitochondria and brain health.

Here is her diet: 3 cups of green leaves, 3 cups of sulfur rich vegetables, 3 cups of bright color, grass-fed meat, organ meat, and seaweed.

3 cups is a dinner plate piled high.

Greens are high in vitamins B, A, C, K, and minerals. Kale has the most nutrition per calorie of any plant.

Plus, a plate full of greens will dramatically lower your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.

3 cups (plateful) of sulfur-rich vegetables every day to support your brain, mitochondria, and to remove toxins.

The cabbage family is rich in sulfur – cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussells sprouts, turnips, rutabegas, radishes, and collards.

Onions, garlic, leeks, mushrooms, asparagus, and chives are also all rich in sulfur.

3 cups (plateful) of colors, preferably different colors.

Colors are flavonoids and polyphenols. These support your eyes, mitochondria, brain cells, and toxin removal.

Get colors from vegetables like beets, carrots, peppers, and red cabbage.

Or get your colors from berries and brightly colored fruits.

Eat high quality protein that is rich in omega 3 fatty acids. This will help build the myelin to insulate your nervous system and is essential for proper jaw formation (straight teeth).

Good sources are wild fish – salmon and herring in particular – and grass fed meat.

Ancient societies all valued organ meats. Organ meats are good sources of vitamins, minerals, and coenzyme Q.

Organ meets are very potent for supporting your mitochondria.

Seaweed is a valuable source of iodine and selenium.

Your brain needs iodine to make myelin.

Iodine also removes toxins – particularly mercury, lead, and heavy metals.

Plus, iodine lowers risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer.

80% of Americans have low iodine, so eat seaweed at least once a week.

Eat the fruits and veggies BEFORE you eat any grains or starches.

Eating fruits and veggies will dramatically lower your risk of food allergies.

Grain and dairy allergies are associated with a wide variety of health problems including excema, asthma, allergies, infertility, irritable bowl, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, arthritis, chronic headache, neurological problems, and behavior problems.

It will cost more to eat veggies and berries. But you’re going to pay the price either way. Wither you’ll pay the price now for food that restores your health and vitality or you will pay the price for doctor visits, prescription drugs, surgeries, time off work, early retirement, and nursing home care. The choice is yours.

With 3 months on the hunter-gatherer diet Dr. Wahls could walk with only one cane.

A month after that, she could walk without a cane.

After 5 months on the paleo diet, she got on a bike for the first time in a decade and rode around the block.

Nine months into paleo and she rode her bike 18 miles.

No Rest For The Wicked: How To Cut Down Your Workout Time With Supersets

Exercise, Strategies 1 Comment »

If you’re short on time and want to lose weight, forget the old school method of resting between exercises.

At the gym, we call doing an exercise, resting, then doing another set “straight sets.”

While straight sets have their place, especially in strength and power training, they aren’t the most effective way to train… and certainly not the most efficient!

It’s time for you to try something called Supersets.

What Is A Superset?

Supersetting is a bodybuilding term that involves pairing two or more exercises with little or no rest between sets.

Straight sets usually call for one to three minutes of rest between sets, but with supersets there is almost no break, allowing you to get more done in less time.

(For a look at the science behind supersetting, check out this post: Inside Luke’s Head – Hacking Your Workout For Faster Results)

The simplest way to superset is to simply pair an upper body exercise with a lower body exercise, such as squats and rows.  You would do a set of squats, then a set of row, then back to squats again until all your sets are completed.

While you’re doing the squats, your back is resting.  While you’re doing the rows, your legs are resting.  So you manage to get more work done in less time.

And, since the cardiovascular system only responds to muscular demand, it is actually better training for your heart and lungs than jogging on the treadmill.

There are seven basic ways for your body to move.  They are:

  1. Squat
  2. Bend (or Hinge)
  3. Lunge
  4. Push
  5. Pull
  6. Twist
  7. Gait (or Locomotion)

All exercises can be broken down into these movements.

Superset Strategy One: Fundamental Movements

If you want to try supersetting, here is a simple way to start: Choose two fundamental movements and pair them together.

Example:

Superset A:

1. Kettlebell Goblet Squat 3×10 (Squat)

2. Cable Woodchopper 3×10 (Twist)

Superset B:

1. Kettlebell Swing 3×15 (Bend/Hinge)

2. Push Up 3×10 (Push)

Superset C:

1. Lat Pulldown 3×12 (Pull)

2. Lunge 3×10 (Lunge)

In each superset, you would go back and forth between the exercises until you have completed all three sets for each, before moving on to the next superset.

And since each pairing works different parts of your body, your heart will be pumping blood up, down, left, and right, which gives it a great workout as well.

Superset Strategy Two: Opposite Movements

Another type of superset is the Reciprocal Superset, where you pair muscles on the opposite sides of a joint.  Quads and hamstrings, triceps and biceps, or chest and back are all examples.

The benefit of a reciprocal superset is that your nervous system charges opposite muscles.  If you do triceps pressdowns before a dumbbell curl, you will be stronger during the curl, which lets you use more weight (do more work) than straight sets of curls.

This is a huge advantage when it comes to transforming your body, as each workout you do will count for more.

Protip For Supersetting At The Gym:

If you work out at a busy gym, getting two stations can be difficult.  You do your squats and then toddle over to the cable row machine and someone else has taken it over, totally slowing you down.

So what you want to do if you’re at a regular gym is plan supersets that can be done in one place.

For instance, if you’re pairing barbell squats with dumbbell overhead presses, take your dumbbells over to the squat rack with you, so you can do them right away after your squats, and no one will take your squat rack.

Instead of machine chest flyes paired with deadlifts, do ValSlide chest flyes on the deadlift platform.

You get the idea, pick two exercises that can be done in the same place so you don’t have your workout interrupted.

Superset Strategy Three: Pre-Fatigue

This is a plan that will really kick up the intensity of your lean-muscle-building workouts.  With a pre-fatigue (also known as “pre-exhaust”) superset, you first tire out a muscle with a single-joint exercise and then immediately move on to a multi-joint exercise for the same muscle.  Some examples:

  • Triceps pressdown paired with close grip dip
  • Biceps curls paired with chin ups
  • Leg extensions paired with hack squats
  • Side dumbbell raises paired with overhead press
  • Chest flyes paired with wide grip bench press

To REALLY kick up the intensity of your workout, superset two pre-fatigue supersets together.  Something like this… Biceps curls then chin ups paired with triceps extensions then dips.

(And did you notice I made that one a reciprocal superset as well?  Craziness)

Superset Strategy Four: Post-Fatigue

A post-fatigue superset is a great way to “shock” your body into a new level of fitness.

The technique is just like it sounds, you perform a compound exercise, and then an isolation exercise that uses your target muscles and you really finish them off.

A great example would be squats paired with split squats – it will make your quads burrrrrn.

Post-fatigue training is something to use occasionally, when you want a tougher workout.  Not something to do every day!

Benefits Of Supersets

I told you that supersets are a great way to get more done in less time, which is a huge benefit to supersetting.  Some more benefits are:

  • Increased intensity, a key to making progress
  • Train hard without using maximal weights
  • Makes things more interesting, so you don’t get bored

 

The Story Of Omega-3s

Health, Nutrition 4 Comments »

You should be taking Omega-3 supplements!

Most people don’t know that omega-3s are the most deficient nutrient in the American diet.  This lack of omega-3 fatty acids has been linked to almost every major disease, weight problem, affective disorder, and learning disability.

When I say omega-3s, you might think “fish oil.”  Or if you’ve been studying healthy eating, you might say “salmon” or “grass-fed beef.”

But the omega-3 story doesn’t start with the fish, cow, or bison… it actually starts in a part of leafy green plants called the chloroplast.

Inside these chloroplasts is something called alpha-linoleic acid, the source of the essential fatty acids we call omega-3s.

And they truly are essential, we can’t make omega-3 fatty acids in our bodies, so they must come from the foods we eat (or supplements we take).

When plankton is eaten by a fish or grass is eaten by a cow, metabolic conversions take place to turn alpha-linoleic acid into EPA and DHA. (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexanoic acid respectively)

So here’s the story:

plankton -> krill -> salmon ->you

Or:

grass -> cow -> you

Why Do You Need Omega-3s?

Well, they are essential to your hormonal functioning, which you need to get in balance if you want to be healthy and lose weight.  (Check out this post for more on hormones and fat storage: Hormones Are Tricky Devils)

And the news has labelled fish oil capsules as “smart pills” because omega-3s make up the highest percentage of fatty acids in the brain, and if you’re not getting enough, your brain isn’t going to work right.  Omega-3s are needed for visual and cognitive functions in your brain.

Plus, omega-3s form the receptors for neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, both of which make you feel good.  No omega-3s to form receptor sites, no happiness.  This is why fish oil is routinely prescribed to people with depression.  (Depression is not a prozac deficiency!  See this article: Natural Nutrition To Fight Depression And Anxiety)

There’s no way for your body to work right if you are low in omega-3s.

Some Problems Linked To Low Omega-3s:

  • Cracked Skin
  • Irritability
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Scleroderma
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Non-cancerous breast disease
  • Carbohydrate/sugar cravings
  • Hypoglycemia
  • PMS
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Alcoholism
  • Depression
  • Dandruff
  • Dry skin
  • Diabetes
  • Inflammatory diseases
  • Eczema
  • Cancer
  • Memory problems
  • Violent tendencies
  • Arthritis
  • Allergies
  • Weight Gain
  • Dyslexia
  • ADD
  • ADHD
  • Cracked skin
  • Learning disabilities
  • Slow wound healing
  • Dry eyes
  • Excessive thirst
  • Dry hair
  • Fatigue
  • Lowered immunity
  • Brittle nails

Taking fish oil helps with ALL of these!

Balancing 6s and 3s

So, making sure you get enough omega-3s is very important.  Raise your metabolism, reduce anxiety and depression, healthier skin and hair, and stay healthy.

But, the magic isn’t just in taking omega-3 supplements or eating more fish/grass-fed beef.  To really cause amazing changes in your body and health you need to try and bring omega-3s into the right ratio with omega-6s.

Back in human history, we consumed a ration of 1:1 to 1:3 of omega-3 to omega-6.  Today, even the healthiest people are at least 1:20, most are at 1:50, and the worst offenders are at 1:100.  The ratios have totally skewed toward omega-6s and it is causing weight gain and health problems left and right.

Where omega-3s come from leafy green plants, omega-6s come from seeds (grains, nuts).

Not only have we moved from eating lots of leafy greens to eating staggering amounts of grains, we have moved our livestock down the same path.  Remember, you are what your food eats!

Eating grains changes the fats in cattle and fish from omega-3s to omega-6s, further throwing us out of balance (and one of the reasons we are now so deficient in omega-3s)

Now, you might not get all the way down to a 1:1 ratio like our paleo ancestors, but you will transform your body as you bring the ratio closer and closer.

What Do You Do Now?

The first, and easiest step is to start taking fish oil.  Keep it in the fridge (capsules will turn cloudy… don’t worry, it’s normal) if you have a problem with fish burps.  Spread it out during the day.  Maybe start with one capsule with breakfast and one capsule with dinner.

If you start taking a lot of fish oil from day one, your poop will turn squishy and gray – not fun.  Ramp up your dosage slowly.

Eventually, you should aim for one gram of fish oil for every 15 pounds of your body weight.  Weigh 150 pounds?  10 capsules a day.

I know this sounds like a lot, and it is.  But you are fighting poor farming practices, depleted soil, and years of being out of balance.

Step two, start reducing your intake of grains.  This includes whole wheat, rice, corn, etc.  Your goal is to completely get rid of all the grains from your diet.

Step three, start eating wild caught fish and grass-fed meats.

Step four, YOU start eating more leafy green vegetables!  You won’t get much omega-3s from the plants, but they will greatly help you absorb more of the omega-3s from your main sources.

These four steps will improve your health, help you lose weight, make you happier and more energetic, and improve the appearance of your skin, hair, and nails.

A bonus step is to start taking other sources of omega-3s.  I personally take fish oil, salmon oil, and krill oil to make sure I am not relying too much on any one source.

If you’re ready to start experiencing real health and fast weight loss, start taking omega-3s today!

For more info, check out these other posts:

Fish Oil Reduces Body Fat (Study)

Drop Triglycerides 93%

Fish And Fat Loss (Study)

 

 

Carson City Bootcamp: 7 Foods For Lean Muscle

Health, Nutrition No Comments »

Lean muscles are what give your body its shape.

So when somebody says, “I want to get in shape,” what they mean is “I want to build some lean muscle and lose the fat covering it.”

If you really want to get in shape, exercise is important, but nutrition is your key to unlocking an awesome body.

(For more benefits of lean muscle, check out this post: Get Some Firmness On Your Frame)

Since you have to focus on nutrition in order to lean out and shape up, I put together a list of 7 foods that should be in your food plan if you want a fit body as fast as possible…

Carson City Bootcamp Lean Muscle Food #1: Almonds

Almonds not only raise your metabolism, they are a great source of antioxidants as well.

See, almonds are a perfect source alpha-tocopherol vitamin E, the form that your body absorbs best.

When you exercise hard, you want the muscle-saving power of almonds to prevent free radical damage after your workouts.

The less damage you get from free radicals, the faster your muscles will recover and be prepared for your next adventure at boot camp :)

As an added bonus, your body stores “bad stuff” in fat… things like pesticides, plastics, and food additives.  When you lose fat, this bad stuff is released into your body.  This is why it’s especially important to include antioxidant foods such as almonds in your fat loss food plan.

If that wasn’t enough, eating good natural sources of vitamin E (not just supplements), can lower your Alzheimer’s risk by up to 67%.

And don’t worry about the nuts making you fat – just keep it in moderation.  A study from Toronto University found that adding an ounce of almonds a day (about 24 nuts) won’t lead to any weight gain.

I’m watching you though, no double handfuls of almonds mixed with chocolate chips and dried fruit :)

Carson City Bootcamp Lean Muscle Food #2: Salmon

Salmon is a great source of quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids.  I’ve written about the benefits of fish and fish oil for fat loss before:

But the omega-3s and protein are essential for lean muscle as well.  Protein, sure.  But why do omega-3s help?

Omega-3s decrease muscle protein breakdown after your workouts, so you will recover faster.  This means you will store muscle protein faster than you break it down.

When choosing salmon, always ALWAYS get wild, not farm raised.  Farm raised fish is fed corn and other grains that change the fats and proteins in the meat so that you lose the benefits you were going for.

Carson City Bootcamp Lean Muscle Food #3: Water

All right, water isn’t really a food, but it’s essential for fat loss and lean muscle building.

80% of your muscle IS water.  If your muscle cells are fully hydrated, they will make muscle proteins faster.  The converse:  If you’re dehydrated, you’ll build muscle more slowly.

Being dehydrated as little as 1% can negatively affect your exercise performance, so if you want to maximize the results you get from your gym time, make sure to drink plenty of water BEFORE your workout – not just during when you get thirsty.

If you’re not sure how much to drink, start with the old-school recommendation of 8 glasses of water a day.

For bonus points, aim for drinking your weight in pounds in ounces of water.  Weigh 150 pounds?  Drink 150 oz of water.

Besides helping you build muscle and lose fat, drinking water will also help lower your risk for a fatal heart attack – just five glasses of water a day will reduce your risk by 54% compared to drinking 2 or fewer.

So drink up!

Carson City Bootcamp Lean Muscle Food #4: Olive Oil

Yeah, my bodybuilding friends rub olive oil on their bods to show off their muscles, but that’s not why they’re lean and toned.  For best results, eat the olive oil, don’t rub it on your skin :)

The monounsaturated fats in olive oil are “anti catabolic”, which means they help prevent muscle breakdown.

Plus, these fats also help prevent muscle weakness, so you’ll get more out of your workouts on low energy days.

Now, while all olive oil is high in monos, extra-virgin is your best bet.  It has more of the antioxidant vitamin E than other varieties.  But beware, not all brands labeled “extra virgin” really are.  Out of the big chain stores here in Carson City, Costco’s Kirland Organic gets the best grades, according to a report from UC Davis.  (You can see the whole report here: Olive Oil Standards)

Olive oil is best used as a dressing/topping over salads or meats, if you use it for cooking the heat of the skillet changes the structure of the oil and takes away almost all of your benefits.

If the muscle protecting benefits of olive oil aren’t enough to convince you, olive oil has been shown to lower risks of heart disease, colon cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis.

Carson City Bootcamp Lean Muscle Food #5: Coffee

Powering up your workouts with a jolt of caffeine can help you build more muscle and lose more fat.

A study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that men who drank 2 1/2 cups of coffee a few hours before an exercise test were able to sprint 9 percent longer than when they didn’t drink any. (It’s believed the caffeine in coffee directly stimulates your muscles)

Since sprinting and weight-lifting are the best muscle building, fat burning exercises, doing better means more muscle and less fat.

You should always choose organic coffee, and stay away from decaf (decaf coffee has been linked to higher cancer rates).  As an added bonus, coffee drinkers have a 30% less risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease than non-coffee drinkers.

Carson City Bootcamp Lean Muscle Food #6: Eggs

The protein in eggs has an incredibly high biological value… which means you need less protein from eggs to build muscle than you would need from other sources.

And don’t be scared of the yolks!  The yolk is a great source of vitamin B12 which you need for muscle contraction and fat breakdown.

Besides B12, yolks contain riboflavin, folate, vitamins B6, D, and E, and iron, phosphorus, and zinc.

When it comes to choosing eggs, terms like all-natural, cage-free, and free-range are basically meaningless, as there is no hard line defined by the government.  Anyone can print these on their egg cartons.

Organic and omega-3-fortified eggs are a little better, but still not the best.

The front-runner for healthy eggs is local farm-raised from chickens allowed to run free and eat bugs and weeds and stuff.

Below is a picture of an organic egg in the same bowl as a pasture raised egg:

You can easily see that the pasture raised egg on the right has a much darker yolk.  The color comes from all the nutrients that the chicken has eaten and then passed along to its egg.  Always remember, you are what your food eats.

Carson City Bootcamp Lean Muscle Food #7: Beef

I might be prejudiced about beef because I come from a cattle-raising family, but there really are tons of benefits from eating beef.

Yes, that delicious steak has tons of protein that will help you build muscle and lose fat, but it is also a great source of iron, zinc, and selenium – crucial muscle building nutrients.

(Selenium also helps protect the prostate.  A study found that men with low levels of selenium are 5 times more likely to develop prostate cancer)

This might scare some people here, but it shouldn’t: beef is also a good source of creatine.

Don’t worry, every though creatine supplements are advertised in muscle magazines and most people think it is some sort of steroid, creatine is nothing more than a cellular energy source.  In fact, it’s the main fuel your body uses for explosive exercises.

So if you want to really get some work done on your next trip to the gym, start fueling yourself with beef!

When it comes to purchasing beef, you want to go with grass-fed/grass-finished as much as possible.  When the cows have lived on grass, their protein and fats are top-notch for your health.

If going with normal organic beef that has been fed grains, you want to get the leanest cuts possible (feeding cows grain changes the structure of their fats – not good for your body).

Ask your butcher or look for “rounds” and “loins”.  These are the leanest cuts.

Or you can try the “flat iron” cut.  It’s the second most tender cut of beef and very lean.  Win-win for your taste buds and your bod.

——-

There you have it!  If you want to add some lean muscle to change the shape of your body and ramp up your metabolism, add these 7 foods to your Carson City Bootcamp eating plan!

Do You Have Crunchy Knees?

Exercise, Health, Strategies No Comments »

I always joke that I listen to music during workouts not to get pumped up, but to block out the crunching in my knees :)

“Crunchy knees” is the popping and crackling sound from inside the knee joint.  If you want to get a little more technical, you can call it crepitus.

Knee crepitus is a noise or vibration during knee movement.

You can get crepitus from a cartilage tear, arthritis, joint degeneration, scarred bursa, or adhered joint capsule.

Now, pain inside your knee joint is a bad thing, but if you have crunchy knees and no pain, crepitus isn’t that big of a deal.

Still, there a few things you can do to get rid of some of that crunching.

(Note: If you DO have pain inside your knee, see an orthopod or chiropractor before starting an exercise program)

A lot of times, loosening up your calves will help.  You’ll want to use a mix of stretching and foam rolling.  Here are a few things to do:

Straight Leg Calf Stretch (gastrocnemius):

Bent Leg Calf Stretch (soleus):

Wall Ankle Mobility:

Calf Foam Rolling:

Plantar Fascia Release:

You also need to loosen up the outside of your legs (lateral side) to keep your IT band and vastus lateralis from pulling your kneecap out of alignment.

Again, stretching and foam rolling are what you should be doing.

Illiotibial Band Stretch:

TFL Stretch:

Vastus Lateralis Stretch:

Foam Rolling:

Now the biggie: Strengthening your hips.

Whenever there is a problem in one of your joints, you need to look at the joint above and below it for issues.

If your hips are weak, they will not be able to keep your femur in alignment, which will result in knee issues.

Things like fire hydrants, hip circles, lateral band walks, etc. are great for strengthening your hips, but once you have that taken care of, you need to develop coordinated strength through your whole leg.  The way to do this is through exercises like lunges, split squats, pistol squats, and 1-leg deadlifts.


The Take Home Message is: You need to fix your whole leg to fix your knees.  Most of the above can be done at home and don’t require anything more than a tennis ball or foam roller.

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

Pull Up Or Chin Up? (And How To Improve Both)

Exercise 5 Comments »

For anyone confused about the difference between a Pull Up and a Chin Up, a pull up is performed with your hands facing away from you (pronated) and a chin up is performed with your hands facing you (supinated).

PULL UP GRIP:

CHIN UP GRIP:

A study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that “The pectoralis major and biceps brachii had significantly higher EMG activation during the chin-up than during the pull-up, whereas the lower trapezius was significantly more active during the pull-up.”

Also from the study: both variations are initiated by the lower trapezius and pectoralis major, and then completed by the biceps brachii and latissimus.

Take home message: Both chin ups and pull ups have value and both should be used to add variety to your program.

Now, 10 tips you can use in your training to improve them both!

Pull Up Tip #1: Lose That Fat Weight!

Trying to do chin ups with an extra 20 pounds of fat is just like doing chin ups with 20 pounds in a backpack.

Not sure how to lose weight?  Here’s my $10,000 seminar: Stop eating grains, sugar, dairy, and soy.  Eat more healthy meats and vegetables.  Get some sort of exercise.  (Don’t worry about anything more than that until you’ve got that all down.  More info would just confuse the issue)

Pull Up Tip #2: Open Your Shoulders

Sitting at a desk all day, drooping your shoulders when you’re standing, hunching over a spinning bike… all of these activities tighten your shoulder joint and can lead to injury with both pull ups and chin ups.

Stretching alone is usually not enough to release the muscular adhesions formed around the shoulder, you probably need some sort of soft tissue work.  A good chiropractor who understands sport (like my friend Dr. Brian Russell), an ART practitioner, or a physical therapist are your best bets at opening your shoulder so you can perform pain-free pull ups.

If you can’t find anyone good, or you want to do some extra work on your own, you can do self-myofascial release at home.  A tennis ball, foam roller, and a yoga ball can all be used.

Here is a great video of how to use the yoga ball to improve shoulder mobility.  Sure, the video refers to handstand training, but the shoulder is in the same position in handstands as it is in pull ups, so it works for both :)

Pull Up Tip #3: Add Variety

There are so many ways to train pull ups that you’ll never ever get bored.

As you change the grip width and orientation of your hands, you’ll draw from new motor units in your muscles and make faster progress in your training.

Besides just close/medium/wide and overhand/underhand, here are a few variations to get you started:

Pull Up Tip #4:  Do MORE

Training volume is the KEY to improving your pull ups/chin ups.

Now, here’s what most people miss when it comes to adding volume: Only add QUALITY reps.  If you train with bad form, you’ll only get better at bad form.

So, if you decide to add 20 reps of chin up variations 3x a week, you might have to do ten sets of two reps to get them.  This will give you much faster progress than 5 sets of four UGLY reps.

Pull Up Tip #5: Stretch Arms And Back At The Bottom

A lot of trainers teach their clients to keep the shoulder blades down and to keep a slight bend in the elbows at the bottom of a vertical pull.  This shortens the range of motion and can help you get more reps, but you are short changing your strength gains.

Also, a short range of motion can eventually lead to soft tissue problems and then to injury.

One caveat: higher volume pull up training with a full range of motion can give you sore elbows.  Using rings will get you around this problem.

Pull Up Tip #6: Do Curls

Getting better at chin ups will improve your curling strength, but it can work the other way too.

Improving all types of curls will help with your chins, but you get the best carryover when you use the same grip as your pulls:

Curls: Improve chin ups

Reverse Curls: Improves pull ups

Hammer Curls: Improves neutral grip pull ups

Pull Up Tip #7: Yoga After Workout

Using yoga to compensate after a brutal pull up workout will re-align your shoulders and help prepare you for your next pull up workout.  There are 3 main yoga poses that, done after pull ups, will help you improve.

The first is the locust pose:

Done correctly, you will really feel the locust pose in the back of your elbows after pull ups.  Not exactly comfortable, but it helps :)

The next pose is the cat pose:

The cat pose is great for opening up your back and relieving tension in your upper back and shoulders.

Last yoga pose is the modified table:

Work on gradually bringing your hips higher and moving your body backwards.

These poses will have you doing more pullups AND feeling better afterwards

Pull Up Tip #8: Learn The False Grip

Learning how to use the false grip can add several reps to your maximum pull up test… it almost feels like cheating.

See, a normal grip touches the bar right on the pads at the base of your fingers.  A false grip covers the bar near the big pad at the base of your thumb (the Thenar Eminence).

Look at your palm – the Thenar Eminence can be almost 3 inches below your fingers.  This means 3 inches less that you have to pull.

Now, you don’t always want to train with the false grip.  Remember that variety is key.  But when you want to bust out as many pull ups as possible, the false grip is the way to do it.

Pull Up Tip #9: Lower Slowly

Slowing down the lowering (eccentric) portion of the chin up is the fastest way to gain chin up strength:

Make sure that your pace is even.  So if it take you 30 seconds to lower yourself, you should be halfway down at the 15 second mark.

Programing eccentrics into your workouts is fun!  Beginners may do eccentrics only, by jumping up and lowering themselves.  If you can already do a few reps, add a slow eccentric to the last rep of every set.  And advanced trainees can use a weighted belt to add weight and do overloaded eccentrics.

A side benefit to eccentric training is that your grip strength and endurance will improve from the increased time under tension during the exercise.

Pull Up Tip #10: Follow A Progression Plan

While there’s no doubt that simply “doing lots of pull ups” will make you stronger, if you really want to get better you need to follow a plan.

I detailed a plan for beginners in this post: How To Go From One Pull Up To Five

You can modify the plan to whatever level you’re currently at.

Pullups used to be a part of physical education classes and most people could do at least one.  The trend is picking back up again (possibly due to the popularity of bootcamp-style workouts).

Use these ten tips to help you master this great exercise

Paleo Recipe: Viking Chili

Nutrition, Recipe No Comments »

This paleo chili recipe is one of my absolute FAVORITE meals.  You can tell from the amounts that I make plenty to have the day after :)

If you love bacon, meat, and spices, I’m sure you’ll be a fan of Viking Chili too

(With the Super Bowl coming up, this is a great main course for your football party…)

Here’s the ingredient list:

  • 1.5 pounds uncured bacon
  • 2 onions
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 5 pounds ground beef (grass-fed is best)
  • 6 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1.5 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1.5 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 14.5 ounce cans chopped tomatoes with liquid
  • 1.5 tablespoons pure cocoa powder
  • 1.5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Optional:

  • Dashes of tabasco sauce
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Sea Salt
  • Turmeric

Now, step-by-step instructions:

Set a large pot (I use an 8 quart stainless steel or le creuset) on the stove and start at medium-low heat.  Use scissors to snip the bacon right into the pot.

Uncured bacon is by far the best choice (reasons why here: Sodium Nitrites Are Bad).  Trader Joes has uncured bacon “ends and pieces” for $2.99 a pound.

Why you’re waiting for some fat to render out of the bacon, chop your onions.  Pictured are one white and one purple onion, but the choice is up to you

When the chopped bacon has started to brown, and there is some delicious bacon fat in the pot, add onions and stir

While that is going, coarsely chop some garlic (Or, if you’re lazy, get minced garlic at the grocery store)

When the onions have turned translucent cooking in the bacon grease, add the chopped garlic

Cook a few minutes longer.  Now, add the ground meat to the pot and stir until no pink remains

Your best choice for beef is to use grass-fed.  Other options include beefalo, bison, elk, venison, and ground turkey.  (I wasn’t a fan of the ground turkey, but some of my friends are)

With lower fat meats (venison, bison) you might need to add a little beef or chicken broth.  But with higher fat meats (beef, turkey) you might want to drain some of the fat out with a ladle:

Once all the meat is cooked through, add the spices (EXCEPT for the cocoa and vinegar) and tomatoes and stir well to combine

Cover the pan and simmer on low heat for an hour, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes.  Adjust the temperature up or down if necessary.

An hour later, add the vinegar and cocoa powder and stir well.  Then let it simmer uncovered for another 20 minutes.

Now try a little taste and add some sea salt, to taste.

I garnished this chili with some European grass-fed sour cream and sharp goat cheddar with some chopped green onions and cilantro.  To go more fully paleo, forgo the dairy and use some diced avocado instead.

Serve and enjoy!

Servings: Twelve

 

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)