Alcohol And Weight Loss

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This time of the year we can’t avoid Holiday parties and their evil twin “Alcohol”.

If you know me, you know that I am a big advocate of a balanced lifestyle. I preach moderation NOT restriction.

So without further ado, let’s talk a bit about our friend “alcohol”…

Alcohol And Fat Loss – What You Need To Know

One question that often presents itself to many dieters who are trying to shed their extra pounds is whether alcohol can be included in their nutrition plan.

Alcohol is something that most adults do like to indulge in from time to time – some more often than others ;)

So what’s the real deal about alcohol and your progress? Is this something that you can make room for in your diet or is it something that you need to give the boot?

Alcohol And Calories

The very first thing that you need to take note of is how many calories are found in alcohol. Alcohol itself contains seven calories per gram, whereas both proteins and carbs contain just four. Fat comes in at the highest calorie value per gram at nine, which places alcohol right in the middle.

But what’s often worse is what the alcohol is mixed with. If you’re drinking your alcohol with high calorie or fat mixers such as cream, sodas, or sugary mixers you could easily end up with a drink that packs in well over 300 calories per serving.

If you take in three or four of these over the course of the night, it’s really going to add up.

Alcohol And Fat Metabolism

The second important thing that you need to note is the impact that alcohol consumption will have on your fat metabolism. The minute that you put alcohol into your body, all fat burning is going to come to a halt.

Your body views alcohol as a toxin and as such, as soon as it comes in, it’s going to do everything it can to rid itself of this alcohol. No further fat will be burned off until it’s out of your system.

Only then will you start burning up body fat again. So if you consume quite a bit of alcohol one night, you can expect to see your rate of fat loss drop off for a significant period of time.

Alcohol And Your Recovery

Finally, the last important thing to note about alcohol consumption is the impact it will have on your recovery rates.

In addition to putting the brakes on all fat burning taking place in the body, the second thing that alcohol is going to put the breaks on is protein synthesis.

This means that no further lean muscle tissue will be built up as long as that alcohol is in the body.

Again, you can imagine what this is going to do to your workout goals.

So as you can see, if you want to be truly successful with your fat loss and workout program, it’s best if you can forgo alcohol for the time being. One drink every now and then may not hurt all that much, but if you’re taking in any more than this, it will definitely hinder the progress that you see.

Reno Personal Training: Sugar Primer

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Candy, fruit juice, soda, and other foods that contain sugar are VERY rough on your body.

Sugar is a poison to your systems.  It elevates your blood triglycerides, lowers HDL cholesterol (the good kind), contributes to yeast growth, promotes deleterious gut bacteria, causes weight gain, fogs your brain, saps your B vitamins, and rots your teeth.

No bueno.

Getting a hit of sugar results in a blood sugar spike followed by hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).  For more information on this cycle, check out: Understanding Insulin, No Biochemistry Needed.

The sugar rush/sugar crash cycle leads to headaches, insulin resistance (prediabetes), dizziness, anxiety, trembling, and irritability.

Also, sugar messes with your fat-burning system.  When the sugar blast starts the release of extra insulin, the insulin starts the process of moving fat from your bloodstream into storage sites… FAT CELLS.

And then, your body halts a hormone called glucagon from entering your blood stream.  This is bad because glucagon is the key to unlocking your fat stores.  Soooo, you can’t burn fat after you’ve eaten sugar, until all the insulin is cleared from your system and glucagon can start working again.

The total effect of this cycle is fatigue (and eventual burnout) of your pancreas, as well as rapid conversion of ingested sugar into stored fat.

Ok, now that we’ve got that out of the way, here is a simple sugar primer for my Reno Personal Training crew.  Make sure to look out for these on labels!

Sucrose – Commonly called sugar or table sugar, this is a combination of glucose and fructose.  Some foods may try to trick you by calling it “organic evaporated cane juice.”  Don’t be fooled, it’s still sugar.

Fructose – This is also called fruit sugar.  May be one of the most fat-storage-promoting of the sugars, the more fructose, the more fat you store.

Glucose – You won’t see this one on many labels, but it pops up occasionally in supplements and sports drinks.  It is the basic form of sugar that your cells can use for energy.

Dextrose – Another name for glucose.

Beet Sugar – Sucrose made from sugar beets (the process involves formaldehyde, a chemical used for embalming corpses)

Brown Sugar – White sugar covered in a film of molasses.

Molasses – An end product made by refining sugarcane juice.

Raw Sugar – Also called turbinado sugar.  This is a partially refined sugar from sugarcane juice.

Coconut Sugar – Slightly less glycemic sugar made from the sap in coconut flowers.

Agave Syrup – Also called Agave Nectar.  It is the processed juice of the agave plant.  It may actually be worse for you than high fructose corn syrup, despite the fact that it is marketed as a “healthy” alternative.

Corn Syrup – Made from glucose and water, produced by processing cornstarch.

High Fructose Corn Syrup – Extremely processed sweetener used in most processed foods.  Avoid ANYTHING that has high fructose corn syrup if you want to lose weight or be healthy.  Liquid poison.

To reiterate: If a packaged food has any of the above on the label, beware – they’re trying to hide the sugar from you.

Further Reading –

Suicide by Sugar: A Startling Look at Our #1 National Addiction <- Scary book about how sugar is killing us quietly

Sugar Blues <- Classic book about sugar and your health, highly recommended

99 Ways Sugar Is Poisoning You <- Blog post with 99 ways sugar is impacting your body

The Sweetest Scam Of All Time <- Would you live longer on sugar water or plain water?

Sugar Cravings Taking Over Your Brain <- How sugar causes you to want MORE sugar

Startling Facts About Sugar <- Did you know that 90 cents out of every food dollar is spent on something that contains high fructose corn syrup?

 Soda Makes You Fat <- A shocking study that shows drinking soda leads to fat gain.  (If that conclusion actually shocks you, go back to the top of this post and re-read)

Household Uses For Soda (Besides Drinking It) <- Fun but true facts of around-the-house uses for soda such as… cleaning oil stains off concrete!

Look Better Than Ever – Fast!

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One of the coolest things about changing your diet is that the appearance of your hair and skin will change within a week, and you’ll look younger and better.

When talking with people who’ve changed their eating habits one thing always comes out – their hair looks better, their nails get better, and their skin is glowing and great.

So on a weight loss diet, where the goal is actually losing fat, you can love the food, feel calmer, have more energy… but the number one thrill seems to be the improved skin and hair!

I really thought this was due to the power of self-esteem. Do something positive for yourself and feel more confident about the way you look. But after hearing about appearance changes over and over and over, I decided to look into it further: Can you make a change in such a short time or is it some sort of psychological trick?

It turns out that the changes ARE real!

Your skin is your largest organ. And it responds amazingly quickly to any changes in nutrition.

Ever have a break out when you eat something that doesn’t agree with you? Or get hives and bloating when you’re allergic to something? You look pale when you’re getting sick? You look saggy after a bad night’s sleep?

Your skin signals about your health. Any changes in your internal health show up externally very rapidly.

See, your skin metabolizes things quickly. Your skin cells turn over rapidly so any changes in health are readily apparent.

In light of this, it’s not surprising that when someone – especially someone who hasn’t been eating correctly – begins to receive a surge of nutrients and hydration that there will be a significant and immediate change in their skin.

The change in skin makes perfect sense. But hair? Why would hair get healthier so quickly? Doesn’t hair grow at like a quarter of an inch per month? How can changes show up in only 7 days?

Well, the sebaceous glands in the skin of your scalp will immediately affect your hair when there is an explosion of nutrients and a simultaneous dearth of health-destroying foods.

(Healthy fats in particular help hair appearance)

A proper balance of nutrients has an immediate effect on the functioning of these sebaceous glands. It’s not the hair itself that is changing, but rather the scalp. And healthy oils from your skin are distributed through your hair.

This is wayyy cool.

And not just because looking great rocks (it does), but because it is tangible proof that your body is changing, right from the first days of clean eating.

When someone is determined to lose weight, they might try any method, no matter how crazy. Fad diets, diet pills, magical supplements, weight loss surgery, or a treadmill addiction.

But this stuff exacts a toll from your health and appearance. Sure, the number on the scale might change for a while, but is it worth destroying your health, your energy levels, your metabolism, and your appearance to weigh a few pounds less? I don’t think so.

Take a look in the mirror, your skin doesn’t lie. Proper nutrition will cause you to lose weight healthily and sustainably. A much better deal for you.

As your body builds better health, your clothes will get looser, your energy will increase, your moods will stabilize, and your skin will be glowing and smooth. These are signs that your body is starting to enjoy tip-top health.

Remember, it’s not just your skin and hair that are improving, it’s every system in your body. Everything is getting stronger and more efficient. If your pancreas could glow, it would be glowing.

As your eating habits change, the improvement in your hair and skin are powerful motivators to keep you going.

Having the measuring tape draw tighter around your waist, not straining to button your jacket, defining your jawline, getting stronger, having more endurance – all this comes with better eating and will motivate you to make changes for life. But the best motivator is probably what you see in the mirror. And you don’t have to wait to enjoy your success, you’ll see it in days!

Time To Get Cooking!

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“The more you cook, the better you look”

Learning how to make healthy meals tasty and interesting is one of the best things you can do for your physique and your health.

Today I want to share some of the recipes from here on Wold Fitness. (WARNING!  Not all of these recipes are pure paleo)

First, check out this post: Six Dumb Things You Do In Your Kitchen

You’ll get a breakdown of simple things you can do to improve your healthy eating :)

Now, on to the recipes!

Smoked Salmon Salad

Paleo Peach And Pecan Scramble

Beef And Pepper Kabobs

Grilled Salmon And Peach Salad

19 Primal Snacks

Apple Pie Scrambled Eggs

Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Asian Turkey Burger

Bacon And Brussels Sprouts

Lentil Fruit Salad

Smoked Salmon Wrap

Hyper-Veggie Breakfast Scramble

 

Fitness Inspiration From The Pizza Tiger

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Tom Monaghan is the man who started and built Domino’s Pizza.  His story is a timeline of constant struggles to grow from one location into the worldwide franchise it is today.  Pretty cool stuff.

But what you might not know about Tom Monaghan is that despite selling pizzas, he is super-dedicated to his health and fitness.  Check out this excerpt from his book Pizza Tiger:

“It may sound corny, but I subscribe to the idea that the body is the temple of the soul.  As a living edifice, it needs proper fuel and good maintenance.  If I lost my health, I’d give every penny I had to get it back, and I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t.

I know how tough it is to lose weight because I’m naturally a big eater.  If I let myself, I could polish off a large pizza and any dessert put in front of me and ask for seconds.  But I’m religious about counting calories.  Every Friday and Monday, or on any day that my weight has moved up over 163 pounds when I get on the scale in the morning, I limit myself to 500 Calories.  I eat dessert only eleven times a year: Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, just before Lent, St. Patrick’s Day, and six family birthdays.  I call these my ‘pig-out’ days.  But despite my calorie counting, I couldn’t keep my weight under control without exercise.

Six days a week, I do forty-five minutes of floor exercises, including 150 consecutive pushups, followed by a six-and-a-third-mile run.  Twice a week, I end my run in the fitness center at our new headquarters, Domino’s Farms, and work out for an hour.  I do repetitions on the progressive-resistance weight machines as fast as possible and have a trainer help me work each muscle group to exhaustion.

People magazine has called me a ‘fitness freak.’  But I don’t think I’m fanatical about fitness; I’ve made my routine a habit now and I don’t want to break it.”

Some pretty good tips here…

  • He has a daily fitness routine with bodyweight exercises and conditioning
  • One rest day a week
  • Twice a week progressive resistance strength training
  • Works out with a trainer
  • Knows his cheat days FOR THE YEAR
  • Restricts Calories 2 days a week, every week
  • Also restricts Calories whenever he rises above his maintenance weight
  • Protects his health as his best investment

Monaghan is a former Marine, you can see some of the influences in his program :)

Check out Pizza Tiger if you want to see how he grew Domino’s Pizza and how he lives his life according to a strong set of core values

 

5 Reasons Sugar Is Bad For Your Young Athlete

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This was originally an email for a group of gymnastics parents…

Did you know that eating sugar will make your Carson City Gymnast more likely to be injured?

sugar gummy bears

And sugar treats suppress the immune systems?

Sick or injured gymnasts can’t train, so if you’re invested in your child’s gymnastic career, cutting down on sugar will keep your child healthy enough to be out on the mats.

(And remember that sugar also leads to weight gain. In gymnastics we jump, and fat gymnasts can’t jump as high)

Here are some of the things that happen when your gymnast has sugar:

1) Sugar suppresses the immune system. A cold or flu can take your child out of the gym for more than a week

2) Sugar upsets mineral balances in the body. Sugar makes the body more acidic. To buffer this, the body will take calcium out of its calcium storage facility: the skeleton.

normal-bones-vs-weak-bones-300x195

Gymnasts need strong and healthy bones, not only for the sport, but also to grow.

3) Sugar causes hyperactivity, anxiety, inability to concentrate, and crankiness. Since our gymnasts are already young and hyper, adding sugar to the mix is like pouring gasoline on the emotional fire.

4) Sugar causes a decline in tissue elasticity and function. This means your gymnast will be sorer and stiffer when they eat sugar. Since gymnastics requires flexibility and strength, sugar will greatly lower gymnastics performance.

5) Sugar interferes with neurotransmitter function. This will affect balance, moods, strength, endurance, and school performance.

neurotransmitter-function-300x292

Check out these other blog posts dealing with sugar:

99 Ways Sugar Is Poisoning You

How Sugar Cravings Take Over Your Brain

Study Time: Amenorrhea, Bone Density, And Gymnasts

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A study from Deakin University in Australia looked at a history of amenorrhea in gymnasts and later-life bone density.

Why do a study like this? Female gymnasts often become afflicted with hypostrogenism (low estrogen) from extreme training couple with the need for low body weight. This leads to issues such as late menarche (first menstrual cycle) or menstrual dysfunctions.

The Deakin University study compared gymnasts who had amenorrhea during their competitive years to gymnasts who did not.

Results? There was no difference in spinal bone density between the two groups, but the peripheral skeleton (arms, legs, pelvis) showed decreased mineral content in gymnasts who had had amenorrhea.

This is surprising because the high impact nature of gymnastic training should lead to a greater bone mineral content later in life (the study didn’t compare non-gymnast women, it is possible that even lowered bone mineral density in amenorrheic gymnasts – compared to non-amenorrheic – may still be greater than the bone density of women who were sedentary with normal menstrual cycles during the same competitive age).

So steps should be taken to prevent amenorrhea in competitive gymnasts to provide for bone health later in life.

Here is the citation for this study:

Bone. 2009 Oct;45(4):760-7. Epub 2009 Jun 30.
History of amenorrhoea compromises some of the exercise-induced benefits in cortical and trabecular bone in the peripheral and axial skeleton: a study in retired elite gymnasts.
Ducher G, Eser P, Hill B, Bass S.

For pre-pubescent gymnasts, it is certainly true that gymnastics training leads to greater bone density/greater bone cross-section (depending on the site) compared to normal school children:

Bone. 2005 Jun;36(6):1012-8.
Bone geometry and density in the skeleton of pre-pubertal gymnasts and school children.
Ward KA, Roberts SA, Adams JE, Mughal MZ.

The bone problems associated with amenorrhea come with reaching puberty then. Is a different sport the answer?

No.

Even though runners and gymnasts have menstrual problems at about the same rate, gymnasts have a higher bone density than the runners do. So soccer, track, cross-country, etc would have a higher risk of lowered bone density in later life than a gymnastics career:

J Bone Miner Res. 1995 Jan;10(1):26-35.
Gymnasts exhibit higher bone mass than runners despite similar prevalence of amenorrhea and oligomenorrhea.
Robinson TL, Snow-Harter C, Taaffe DR, Gillis D, Shaw J, Marcus R.

Repeat: being a gymnast is fine, it is amenorrhea that causes problems.

How to prevent amenorrhea in your Carson City Gymnast? Here are a few tips:

First, you need to know the causes of amenorrhea: Nutrition-related and lifestyle-related causes of amenorrhea include too much exercise (especially endurance exercise such as running or cycling), losing excessive weight, excessive weight gain, eating disorders, poor nutrition, and too low body fat. Other causes of amenorrhea in gymnasts include stress, anxiety, hormone imbalance, the use of certain forms of contraception, and endocrine disorders.

So… stay away from all of that.

Extreme weight loss from starving/crash diets can cause amenorrhea. The solution here is to keep weight in the correct range (for a gymnast) so that crash restrictions are not necessary.

Also, supplement with iodine or make sure to eat plenty of wild-caught, small seafood and lots of seaweed. (Note: Iodized salt contains iodide, not iodine, so it is not an acceptable substitute)

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Cutting out ALL carbohydrates may help keep weight where it needs to be without starvation, but carbs are necessary for the conversion of T4 to T3 (active form of thyroid hormone) without which organs start shutting down/malfunctioning, and the reproductive system is the first thing to go. Plus, fruits and vegetables are full of nutrients essential for performance and health in other ways.

Cut out dairy. Even organic dairy is full of hormones and chemicals that will influence the reproductive systems. Dairy is an extremely androgenic food, and the hormone imbalances it causes are one of the reasons dairy foods can cause acne. There’s no reason for dairy products to be in a gymnast’s diet. (Worried about bone health? Dark green vegetables and vitamin D are more effective for increasing bone health than dairy products. So there)

STAY AWAY FROM SOY. There is absolutely nothing good about soy. Nothing. And it messes with reproductive health in men and women.

Limit/Ease Stress. Stress halts reproduction: stress from toxic foods, stress from eating disorders, stress from social life, stress from exercise, stress from schoolwork, stress from existential despair… Emotional stress can damage the reproductive system just as much as physical stress. This is a more individual solution. Whatever it takes: more sleep, tutoring, extra family time. Reduce stress to increase your gymnast’s health.

keep-calm-and-be-a-carson-city-gymnast

Gymnastics Coaching: RICE For Injuries

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When small strains and sprains happen at gymnastics practice, there is a simple formula every gymnastics parent and coach should memorize and use: RICE.

It stands for:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compress
  • Elevate

A twisted ankle or jammed up wrist will heal much more quickly when you follow these simple steps.

RICE rest

REST – If a joint is swollen, take it easy on activities until the swelling goes away. The big problem with using a sore joint isn’t slowed healing (although that IS an issue), but instead that in trying to protect the joint, your gymnast will injure herself somewhere else, usually worse.

Example: A twisted ankle is painful, and an athlete will unconsciously try to keep weight off of it. When sticking a landing she might throw all of her mass onto the opposite leg and tear up her knee. A sprained ankle heals much faster than a torn knee.

RICE Ice

ICE – A bag of ice held to the injury, ice massage, or an ice bucket are all icing options for an injury. You can use a big of ice for everything, use ice massage on sore muscles (it gets in deep), and an ice bucket is best for ankles and feet.

When you’re icing, use 20 minutes of ice every two hours. And keep icing for a day after the pain is gone.

Note: If you’re confused about using ice or heat, always go with ice. Heat may make an injury worse.

RICE ankle wrap

COMPRESS – Pressure will help reduce swelling an increase healing speed. Every Carson City Gymnastics parent should have an ACE bandage handy.

RICE ace bandage

When compressing an injury, start wrapping from the far end of the injury and wrap in towards the body.

Example: For a twisted ankle, start wrapping in the middle of the foot and wrap in towards and over the ankle. Compressing this way helps get the swelling out of the joint.

RICE elevate injury

ELEVATE – This means to keep the injury above heart level to speed healing by “draining” the swelling into the body.

Example: For a sprained ankle, raise the foot up on a few pillows to keep the lower leg above torso level while lying down.

So the next time one of your young gymnasts gets a little twisted up, remember the RICE formula and they will be back on the mats in no time flat!

Exercise Study: Skipping Workouts Can Mess With Your Mood

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Skipping your workouts can mess with your mood.

British researchers found that people who skip their workouts for just 2 weeks had significantly negative moods compared to people who continue with their program.

Skip workouts => Be cranky

It might be because stopping your workouts can cause inflammation and other biochemical changes that lead to mood changes.

What’s cool is you can boost your mood again by exercising.  Another study (from the University of Georgia) found that 12 total sets will increase mood-lifting chemicals in your brain.

Here’s the reference to the British study:

Stress. 2011 Jul;14(4):439-47. Epub 2011 Mar 27.
The effects of exercise withdrawal on mood and inflammatory cytokine responses in humans.
Poole L, Hamer M, Wawrzyniak AJ, Steptoe A.
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK.

Fish Oil Research: Omega-3 Fatty Acids In Health And Disease And In Growth And Development

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Our diets today are incredibly deficient in omega-3 fatty acids compared with the diets we were evolved to eat.

Research suggests that we evolved eating a 1:1 ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s.  Today, even a very healthy diet will have a ratio of 20:1, with unhealthy diets up into the ranges of 100:1!

Thus, the magic of fish oil and other omega-3 supplements isn’t that they ADD something special – it’s that they bring our bodies back into balance so we can have the health, energy, vitality, and weight we were designed to have!

A review study from the Center For Genetics in Washington D.C. looked at supplementation of omega-3s and found some amazing results.  If you are at all interested in your health, you’ll want to take a look at this:

Omega-3 fatty acids decrease platelet aggregation, blood viscosity, and fibrinogen. This means there is less plaque build-up in your blood vessels, which lowers your risk for heart disease and heart attacks.

Omega-3 fatty acids lower LDL (bad) cholesterol – again supporting heart health and proper blood flow.

Omega-3 fatty acids lower triglycerides in both normal people and people with genetic triglyceride problems. (Check out this post: Drop Triglycerides 93.5% in 21 Days!)

There is either no effect on HDL (good) cholesterol or else there is a slight increase when supplementing with omega-3s, so you don’t have to worry about the added fats from fish oil supplements having a negative effect on your HDL.

From the study: “eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the form of fish oils along with antirheumatic drugs improve joint pain in patients with rheumatoid arthritis; have a beneficial effect in patients with ulcerative colitis; and in combination with drugs, improve the skin lesions, lower the hyperlipidemia from etretinates, and decrease the toxicity of cyclosporin in patients with psoriasis.” Which basically says that fish oil will make almost everything better! :)

Omega-3s have also been shown to decrease the number and size of tumors (cancer fighting) as well as increasing time before tumor appearance (cancer prevention).

DHA is also essential for the normal functional development of the retina and brain, especially in premature infants.

And one final bit of advice from this study: “Because omega 3 fatty acids are essential in growth and development throughout the life cycle, they should be included in the diets of all humans.”

I personally take both fish oil and the more potent krill oil as my omega-3 fatty acid supplements. For more information on krill oil and a great video explaining EPA and DHA, check this out: Krill Oil Explained

Here is the study reference for my fellow research geeks:

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 54, 438-463.
Omega-3 fatty acids in health and disease and in growth and development
AP Simopoulos
Center for Genetics, Nutrition and Health, Washington, DC.