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Sugar and Weight Loss: How Sugar Affects Your Weight Loss Goals

Posted on November 21, 2018 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (136)
 Sweet Defeat | November 6, 2018
Perhaps the biggest topic in health and wellness these days is sugar and how to cut back on consuming it. For ages, the average adult would add a spoonful of sugar here and there to food— it never seemed like a big deal. But over time, food manufacturers started adding sugar to just about everything in the grocery store, even foods that you don’t think of as sweet, like crackers and spaghetti sauce.
Today it’s clear that  sugar is linked to various illnesses and conditions, and it is likely a major culprit connected to the rise in obesity and weight gain in this country. The information below will  give some background on the sugar debate and suggest ways in which you can cut it out for good.
Does Sugar Make You Fat?
Obesity has been a hot topic in recent years, and with good reason. Roughly 38 percent of adults over the age of 19 in the U.S. are obese. What’s more staggering is that more than 70 percent of adults over the age of 19 are overweight or obese, suggesting that most people in this country have weight problems.
Just think about these statistics a bit: seven out of every 10 adults are overweight or obese. From a public health standpoint, effective weight loss programs are important, and it seems that sugar may play a role. Let’s take a look at how sugar is associated with weight gain.

Sugar’s Calorie Content
One of the first things with any body weight management program is to consider how much you eat and to cut out whatever is unnecessary. Sugar is a major culprit in weight gain since it contains calories, but not much else in the way of vitamins, minerals, or anything else that’s good for you. You can find a detailed description of the amount of calories in our calories in sugar guide, but overall, if you eat more than what you need, you will store the extra energy as fat. Some weight loss programs suggest that eating fat is the path to gaining fat, but in reality, it does not matter what nutrient you over consume; the more you eat, the more you gain.

Excess Sugar May Lead to Obesity
Considering the difference between how much sugar we should be eating and how much we’re actually eating, that excess sugar consumption might be one of the key factors in the rise in obesity levels in this country. If the recommended amount of sugar is at most 150 calories each day and the average adult is consuming more than double this value, perhaps the increase in overweight or obese adults is caused by this excess.

If a pound of fat equates to roughly 3,500 calories, and men consume 180 calories (at least) in excess and women consume 230 calories (at least) in excess, this could add up over the years. If you do the math on the extra amount men eat, 180 calories of sugar in excess from what is recommended each day, for a total of 365 days over an entire year, and this amounts to about 19 pounds of fat per year. Do the same math for women and this equates to 24 pounds of fat added each year. Doing the math, it seems clear  how sugar can contribute to obesity across the nation.

Cutting Sugar to Lose Weight
One of the first rules in any weight loss program is to burn more calories than what you eat. This method suggests that for every 3,500 calorie deficit, you lose roughly one pound of fat. This is not an exact science, but it is a good way to estimate weight loss. In contrast, if you eat more than what your body needs, then you will gain weight. Figuring out the balance between the energy in and the energy out can be a challenge, but cutting sugar may be one of the best ways to reduce your excessive caloric intake.

If you use the figure of 82 grams of sugar consumed by the average adult each day, it should be no surprise that you could lose some serious weight from sugar alone. Consider this: if you eat a standard 2,000 calorie diet (men or women) each day and you immediately cut all sources of sugar from your usual food and drink, you would reduce your caloric load by 330 calories each day, assuming you eat the average of 82 grams of sugar each day. Reducing your caloric load by 330 calories in sugar each day would translate to about 34 pounds of fat loss each year, or close to three pounds per month.

If you are like many adults out there and you feel your diet is impeccable and that sugar is not an issue, consider this: one medium apple contains about 19 grams of sugar, a banana has 12 grams, one orange has 17 grams, and 1 cup of grapes has 15 grams. You can see that sugar is everywhere, even if you have a healthy diet. It is easy to hit the average 82 grams of sugar each day from fruits alone but considering a plethora of other foods have sugar in them, it would be easy to consume this much without even touching a candy bar.

Cutting out Sugar Completely Can Be Challenging
One of the biggest issues in any weight loss plan is avoiding things that your brain wants. This is where many adults have issues when it comes to cutting sugar from the diet. The brain has a strong desire to obtain sugar as a way to boost dopamine (known as the happiness hormone), which can be a major sign of sugar addiction. Sugar also provides a quick burst of energy that also floods the brain with compounds that make you feel euphoric. This craving for euphoria is hard to defeat, and it is one of the biggest challenges people have when they’re trying to cut out sugar for good.

9 Effective Ways to Cut Sugar from Your Diet
Now that you have some information on how sugar impacts your weight management, some of the names that it goes by, and the difference between natural and added sugars, you will want to learn about some effective ways to cut sugar out for good. Consider the following tips to aid in your journey to successfully avoid sugar in your daily eating habits.

1.  Substitute sugary beverages for water.
It may taste boring when you first make this switch, but beverages are the primary source of added sugars in the adult diet. Consider drinking your coffee black without sweetener or sugars and avoid all forms of soda, including ones with artificial sweeteners.

2.  Be mindful of sugar substitutes.
Avoiding sugar is something that adults on diets aim to do, and many switch to artificial sweeteners as an alternative. While they may be calorie-free, artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes can be up to 600 times sweeter than regular sugar, which means your brain thinks you are consuming enormous amounts of sugar at one time. This strategy often leads to you having intense sugar cravings throughout the day.

3.  Avoid fruit juices.
An orange has plenty of sugar, and a cup of orange juice has the juice of five oranges in there—so it has five times the amount of sugar.  And that’s if you make the juice yourself. Orange juice found in cartons in the grocery store—even the ones that say they’re not from concentrate— are highly processed, and many brands have added sugar.

4.  Limit fruit.
If you are serious about cutting sugar from your diet, you should pay attention to how much sugar is in the fruit you’re eating. Fruit can be healthy for you, but you need to limit your intake to 2-3 pieces at most a day—and count that as part of your sugar consumption.

5.  Avoid jams, jellies, honey, or other preserves.
American breakfasts are often sweet, and jams, jellies, and other options are a source of sugar  that you may not think about.

6.  Eat plain Greek yogurt.
You may be surprised that yogurt is a common source of added sugar—sometimes up to 30 or 40 grams in a serving! Choose plain Greek yogurt, which only has the natural sugars in dairy and no added sugars.  Make sure to read the food label to double-check.

7.  Consider Sweet Defeat.
One amazing way to cut back on sugar and to fight some of the associated sugar cravings is to consider getting a little help. Sweet Defeat is a product that helps fight sugar cravings so that you can effectively eliminate it from your diet. It comes as a lozenge and it contains only five ingredients: gymnema, zinc, mint, sorbitol, and spirulina. The gymnema and zinc work together to temporarily block the sweet taste receptors in the mouth, so you can’t taste sweetness. The lozenge works in a few seconds, and it is clinically proven to stop cravings. Consider taking a look at Sweet Defeat if you are serious about quitting sugar.

8. Get used to reading grocery labels.
Even if the ingredient list on your favorite food items doesn’t specifically list “sugar” as an ingredient, there’s still a chance that it could have a high sugar content under the veil of a different name. There are at least 60 other names for sugar out there, with the most common being high fructose corn syrup.
9. Know the difference between natural and added sugar.
Not all sugar is created equal and it’s important to know the difference between natural vs added sugar. While it may be difficult to avoid all forms of natural sugar, avoiding added sugars that are refined or processed can be a realistic goal to strive for.
Helpful Weight Loss Tips
If you have ever been on a diet plan only to see it work briefly and then go south from there, then you should consider a lifestyle change to make your plan more effective. Consider the tips below as some of the most effective ways to boost your weight loss journey so that your previous frustrations turn into successes.

Adjust your exercise routine.
One way to boost your weight loss success is to adjust your exercise routine. Many adults hit the gym, perform endless amount of cardio exercise day after day, only to see minimal results. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, your cardio intensity may not be high enough. Consider high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for better results. Second, add a resistance training program—lifting weights, for example—which will help build muscle. Muscle burns more energy than fat, so this will help with weight loss. Changing your workouts to include high intensity interval training as well as resistance training is a great way to boost your metabolism and add lean muscle mass.

Avoid long periods of sitting.
One of the biggest issues with weight loss is that adults go all-out at the gym, only to lose all of the benefits directly afterwards. Studies have shown that sitting for long periods of time can lead to weight gain, suggesting that changing this  habit may help with n your weight loss goals. Avoid sitting for longer than 30-60 minutes at a time throughout the day for best results. Taking standing breaks can help to circulate your blood, and it increases your heart rate and metabolism just enough to where your body is not in continuous fat storage mode.
Be mindful of alcohol.
Another factor that adults should watch when attempting to lose weight is alcohol consumption. Alcohol may have some health benefits but consuming it often can lead to increased fat production as well as inflammation. Consider cutting alcohol from your diet any time you are looking to lose weight and only drink amounts that current health guidelines suggest you consume.

Make a Habit of Walking.
One effective way to control your body weight is to take a brisk walk after each meal. Research has shown that brisk walking after a meal for about 15-45 minutes can lead to an improvement in overall glycemic control in older adults. An improvement in glycemic control could cause better usage of insulin, which could lead to a reduction of fat in your body. Consider making a brisk walk a habit after each meal and you may see great benefits in both weight and in mood.
Bottom Line
Sugar consumption is linked to a number of health concerns. Perhaps the most concerning one is obesity. Obesity is a highly prevalent issue in the U.S.: seven out of every 10 adults are overweight or obese. And sugar plays a major role in this statistic.
The average American consumes twice as much sugar as what’s recommended. That excess sugar adds up to about 330 calories each day, which means the average adult could be gaining close to 20 pounds a year simply from eating too much sugar. Sugar consumption is likely a major element contributing to obesity levels in this country.
Consider finding healthy ways to cut sugar from your life to help you lose weight. If you find that the easy tips listed above on how to cut back on sugar isn’t enough, and  if you are finding it challenging to fight sugar  cravings, then consider getting help from Sweet Defeat to boost your success.


How to Set Up a Diet for Fat Loss (A Comprehensive Guide)

Posted on May 9, 2016 at 12:16 PM Comments comments (267)
How to Set Up a Diet for Fat Loss 
(A Comprehensive Guide)
This is a comprehensive guide that outlines how to set up the basic structure for a fat loss diet.

In this article, we will cover the following:
·         Identifying and prioritizing what is important and what isn’t
·         How to determine caloric intake
·         How to determine macronutrient intake
·         Progressing the diet

If you follow along, you will have the framework to build a plan for yourself.

Let’s get into it…

A Misguided Focus

When it comes to nutrition for fat loss, many people get caught up in the latest fads or trends that flood the media.

Whether it be low-carb, low-fat, detoxing, cleansing, gluten-free, paleo…

…or the belief that removing just one food from their diet will make all of the difference and end up being the last missing link to finally getting lean and losing fat.

Problem is, this misguided focus prevents people from achieving the results they want.

Nutrition is actually very simple and boils down to a few primary levels of importance.

And it is these very basic levels that people miss and skip over entirely in search of the quick fix or hottest trend.

There is a nutritional pyramid that Eric Helms created, which illustrates the importance of each piece of the nutrition puzzle very well.

Here’s what it looks like:

In sequence from most important, to least important you have:

1. Calories
2. Macronutrients (Proteins, Carbs, and Fats) & Fiber
3. Micronutrition & Water
4. Nutrient Timing & Meal Frequency
5. Supplements

The first mistake most people make when structuring a fat loss diet, is ignoring the law of energy balance.

To put it simply, the law of energy balance states that in order for you to lose body fat, you must create a consistent energy deficit (expend more calories for energy than what you intake each day).

This is the most fundamental layer of the entire fat burning process…

A proper caloric intake is critical and what the rest of a properly structured nutrition plan is built upon.

There’s no way around it. Ignore it and it doesn’t matter what you do, you will not lose fat.

Let’s walk through the steps of how we figure out how many calories are needed when the goal is fat loss.

Determining Caloric Intake for Fat Loss

There are a couple of steps here and I’ll walk through each one individually.

Step #1: Estimate Your Caloric Maintenance Level.

Your caloric maintenance level is the amount of calories needed to maintain your weight. If you were to eat at a maintenance level, that would be the same amount of calories as your body burns each day.

Your maintenance level will be based on your BMR (total calories required for natural processes to keep the body functioning at rest, which includes breathing, circulation, body temperature regulation, etc.), as well as activity level.

There are a number of different formulas/calculators you can use to estimate your caloric maintenance level, but one important thing to note is that any initial calculation is just an estimate or educated guess.

Caloric consumption on a daily basis is something that is very individualistic and differs from person to person depending on a number of factors. No single calculation is perfect.

The goal is simply to get the best estimate for your starting point and then once you get going, you can make any necessary adjustments from there depending on your body’s response and adaptation.

I’m going to go through a couple options you can use to get an estimate of your caloric maintenance level.

Option A

Step 1: Calculate BMR with Harris-Benedict Formula 

With the Harris-Benedict Formula, the first step is to find basal metabolic rate (BMR):

Men: BMR = 88 + (13.4 x weight in kilos) + (4.8 x height in cm) – (5.7 x age in years)

Women: BMR = 448 + (9.2 x weight in kilos) + (3.1 x height in cm) – (4.3 x age in years)

Men: BMR = 88 + (6.1 x weight in lbs) + (12.2 x height in inches) – (5.7 x age in years)

Women: BMR = 448 + (4.2 x weight in lbs) + (7.9 x height in inches) – (4.3 x age in years)
Example: Meet Joe.

Gender: male
Age: 21 years
Height: 5’10 (70 inches)
Weight: 180 lbs
The calculation for Joe would be:
BMR = 88 + (6.1 x 180) + (12.2 x 70) – (5.7 x 21)
BMR = 1919

The only downfall to this formula, is that it does not take into account body composition. And for this reason, it can underestimate the energy requirements of someone who is extremely lean, and vice versa — overestimate the energy needs of a fatter person.

Step 2: Adjust For Activity

The next step after determining basal metabolic rate is to adjust for activity.

We use an ‘activity multiplier’ between 1.2 – 1.9 depending on lifestyle and training habits.

Sedentary (little or no exercise): BMR x 1.2

Lightly active (training/exercise 2-3 days per week): BMR x 1.375

Moderately active (training/exercise 3-5 days per week): BMR x 1.55

Very active (training/exercise 6-7 days per week): BMR x 1.725

Extremely active (training/exercise 6-7 days per week + physical job or 2x/day training): BMR x 1.9

After adding the activity multiplier, you have an estimate of your caloric maintenance level.

Recall Joe from above.

Let’s say he is a student and trains 4 days per week.

He would select the moderately active option and use the multiplier of 1.55.

So we take his BMR of 1919 and multiply it by 1.55:
(1919 x 1.55)

Maintenance Calories = 2974

Option B

If you don’t like math, then the following formula can also be used as an alternative to simplify things.

Step 1: Identify Your Genetic Body Type (ectomorph, endomorph, or mesomorph)
Ectomorph characteristics:
·         naturally skinny
·         fast metabolism
·         have trouble gaining weight

Endomorph characteristics:
·         slow metabolism

·         body type is blocky, often short and stocky
·         gain weight (both muscle and fat) easier than 
ectomorphs, but have tough time losing fat

Mesomorph characteristics:
·         mesomorphs fall in the middle between ectomorphs and endomorphs
·         body type is athletic
·         metabolism of more average speed
Step 2: Multiply your bodyweight by the factor below depending on your body type:

Ectomorph: BW (lbs) x 16-17 = Maintenance Calories
Endomorph: BW (lbs) x 13-14 = Maintenance Calories
Mesomorph: BW (lbs) x 15 = Maintenance Calories

Let’s say Joe has an average build and considers himself a mesomorph.

His estimated maintenance level will be 2700 calories per day.
(180 x 15) = 2700.

As you can see both formulas do not yield the exact same calculation, but similar nonetheless.

It’s important to remember that these are general guidelines and estimations. There is no perfect method to calculating caloric maintenance.

Step #2: Create A Caloric Deficit

Once you have a rough estimation of your caloric maintenance level, you’ll want to reduce calories from your maintenance number in order to create the caloric deficit necessary for fat loss to occur.

To eat in a a caloric deficit basically means you will be eating less calories than your body burns each day.

How big should the energy deficit be?

The size of the caloric deficit I recommend is pretty standard for most individuals and is based on the goal of how much weight is to be lost for the week.

For most trainees I recommend aiming for a weight loss target of approximately one pound per week. This is a good rate to allow for sustainable progress to be made, and retainment of lean muscle mass.

There is a general rule that it takes 3500 calories to burn one pound of fat, and while it’s not completely accurate (due to individual circumstances and variances), it is a good guideline to use.

So if the goal is to lose one pound per week, you’re going to need approximately a 3500 calorie deficit for the week.

Divide that by 7 days (3500/7) to spread across the week and you get a 500 calorie daily deficit.


If you determine that your maintenance calories are 2700, you would subtract 500 from maintenance level (2700-500) to get an intake of 2200 calories per day.

This is a great starting point and what I would recommend for most people.

However, if you have significantly higher body fat (20-30%+), you can aim for a faster rate of fat loss, without risking muscle loss. Somewhere closer to two pounds per week may be a better range. In this case, you can be slightly more aggressive with your calorie deficit.

The main takeaway here is that if you don’t create and maintain a net calorie deficit over time, you will not lose fat.

Additional Considerations:

It’s common for people to want to drop calories super low right away in hopes of progressing faster.

However, an excessively low calorie diet (particularly one implemented for an extended period of time), is not a good move and has many negative effects on health and performance including:

·         Reduced metabolism speed
·         Lower energy levels
·         Decreased training performance (which means decreased energy output)
·         Hormonal imbalance
·         Decreased sex drive
·         Fatigue, tiredness and irritability
·         A tendency to gain excess body fat when you increase calories to a normal      level afterwards
·        A tendency to be more likely of binge eating during the diet period

These are all risks you run when you drop calories too low.

…Basically you’ll just feel like crap in general.

Another reason you don’t want to drop calories too low is that it leaves little room to progress.

What happens when you are already eating a very low calorie intake and you hit a plateau where progress stalls?

At some point it’s bound to happen, your metabolism will adapt and slow down, and you’ll be burning less calories at rest. At this point, you either have to increase energy output or decrease intake again in order to progress further.

When starting your fat loss diet, ideally you want to find a caloric intake that allows you to make progress in the right direction, but also leaves you lots of room to make adjustments from there.

Determining Macronutrient Intake

Now that we have calories taken care of, we can look at the macronutrient set up.

This is 2nd in order of importance (recall the nutritional pyramid):

While calories basically determine whether weight will be gained or lost, macronutrients will determine whether that gain or loss of weight is in the form of fat or muscle mass.

The ‘macros’ (short for macronutrients) we consume significantly influence our energy levels, work capacity, recovery from exercise, body composition, and more.

Therefore, how we choose to split them up in our nutrition program plays a significant role in the results we achieve with our workouts and fat loss goals.

The three macronutrients we will be looking at which make up our diet are:

·         Protein- 4 calories/gram
·         Carbohydrates- 4 calories/gram
·         Fats- 9 calories/ gram

Step #1: Setting Protein Intake

The first macronutrient to look at is protein.

Although protein is most commonly thought of for its muscle building benefits, you also need protein for a host of other reasons; immune system function, cell repair and growth, and detoxification just to name a few.

Protein is equally, if not more important on a fat loss phase, than it is on a muscle gain phase, primarily for its role in preserving lean muscle tissue when eating in a caloric deficit and its satiating effects on hunger. It’s one nutrient you definitely do not want to short yourself on.

How much protein you require on a daily basis is going to be determined primarily by your body weight and body fat %, but also taking into account your activity level and training demands.

For someone with goals of retaining lean muscle while in a caloric deficit, I like to see protein between 1g – 1.5g/lb of lean body mass (per day).

The harder and more frequently you train, the higher you can go on scale as you’ll need more protein to recover.

I personally find the sweet spot to be around 1.3g/lb of lean mass.

Calculating Lean Body Mass

Lean body mass (LBM) is your total body weight minus your body fat.

Example for a male who weighs 180 pounds has 10% body fat:

First we find the amount of fat mass he has…
(10% of 180) = 18 lbs of fat.

Next we subtract the fat mass from total body weight…
180 – 18 = 162 lbs

His lean body mass (LBM) would be 162 pounds.

Once we have lean body mass, we can calculate protein.

For this example, I’ll use 1.3g/lb of LBM.

So we will multiply lean body mass by 1.3…
162 (LBM) x 1.3 = 211 grams of protein.

Now we have our protein intake for the day.

Step #2: Setting Fat Intake

The next step is to look at fat intake.

Anywhere between 0.3-0.75 grams of fat per pound of bodyweight (not lean body mass, as we calculated with protein) is a good range to start with.

0.3g per pound of bodyweight being a minimum level.

Again this depends on your specific goals, preferences, and body type.

One rule to remember is that fat intake is inversely correlated with carbohydrate intake.

If you are consuming more carbs in your diet, you will consume less fats.

Consume lower carbs, and your fat intake will be higher.
So when determining your ideal fat intake, you’ll want to factor in the type of foods you prefer to eat.

If you prefer fattier foods like eggs, nuts and red meats, you may want to allot yourself a slightly higher fat intake to accommodate those preferences.

If you are a carb fiend and crave things like rice, pasta and potatoes, you may want to err towards the lower end of the scale for fat intake, which will allow for a higher carbohydrate intake.

Additional Considerations:

Athletes with higher training demands will do better with a moderate to high carbohydrate intake to aid with training performance and recovery.

Less active individuals with a lower training frequency, will not need as much carbohydrates and therefore likely do better with a slightly higher fat intake and less carbs accordingly.

With these points in mind, use the ranges below as a guideline when setting your fat intake:

Lower Fat Intake – Set fats at 0.3-0.45 grams per pound of bodyweight.

Select this option if you prefer a higher carb intake. This range will work well if you have a high training frequency and are focused on performance.

Moderate Fat Intake – Set fat at 0.45-0.6 grams per pound of bodyweight.
Select this option if you want a moderate amount of both carbs and fats.

Higher Fat Intake – Set fat at 0.6-0.75 grams per pound of bodyweight.

Select this option if you tend to store body fat easily and don’t tolerate carbs well. 

However, keep in mind that depending on your caloric intake, you may not be able to set fats this high as fats are the most energy-dense macronutrient (containing 9 calories per gram) and may push your overall calories for the day too high.

Let’s look at a sample calculation using the example above for the 180lb male.

To keep things simple, we will use 0.5g fat/lb (moderate fat intake) for the example.

Bodyweight will be multiplied by 0.5 to determine fat intake:
180 x 0.5 = 90

This equates to 90 grams of fat per day.

Step #3: Setting Carbohydrate Intake

Once protein and fat intake are determined, the final step is to allot the remaining calories, or whatever is left over to carbohydrates.

In order to do this we must know our total calories from protein and fat.

So we simply add protein and fat calories together.


Working with the 180 lb male from the previous example again, we know his macros so far are as follows:

·         211g of protein
·         90g of fat

So we multiply grams of protein by 4 to get total protein calories…

(211 x 4) = 844 calories total calories from protein

Next, multiply grams of fat by 9 to get total fat calories…
(90 x 9) = 810 total calories from fat

Add total protein and total fat calories together…
(844 + 810) = 1654 calories

Now to figure out the remainder of calories in which will be allotted to carbohydrates, simply subtract the above number (total protein and fat calories) from your total caloric intake for the day, which should be a deficit of calories.

If caloric intake is 2200 calories, the calculation would look like this:
(2200-1654) = 546

This means there are 546 calories left that need to be assigned to carbohydrates in order to fill out your caloric intake.

Divide this number by 4 (given that there are 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate) to figure out how many carbohydrates to be eaten in grams…
(546/4) = 136.5g

Carbohydrate intake for the day is 137g (round up).

Final macros for the day are:

·         Protein: 211g
·         Fat: 90g
·         Carbohydrate: 137g
Fiber Considerations

I’ll quickly touch on fiber as it is essential for optimal digestive and gut health.

As a general rule, aim to consume a minimum of 10g of fiber per 1,000 calories you eat. So if you’re consuming 2,000 calories per day that equates to a minimum 20g fiber intake.

Eating 3,000 calories? That’s 30g of fiber.

Getting more than this can be beneficial, and if you are experiencing any digestive discomfort, increasing your fiber intake is something that I would recommend. 

However, you reach a certain point where it becomes “too much” fiber. And for this reason, I wouldn’t advise men go above 60g or women go above 45g of fiber per day.

A Quick Recap on Calculating Calories and Macronutrients for Fat Loss:

To recap, determining your caloric and macronutrient intake for fat loss can be accomplished in a  few simple steps:

1) Estimate your maintenance level calories. This is the amount of calories needed to maintain your weight each day.

2) Add a caloric deficit. A 500 calorie deficit works well for most people. If you are significantly overweight, you may be able to get away with a slightly larger deficit without risking muscle loss.

3) Determine your protein intake. Between 1g – 1.5g of protein per lb of lean body mass (per day) is adequate and necessary in retaining lean muscle tissue when in a caloric deficit.

4) Determine your fat intake. Anywhere between 0.3-0.75 grams of fat per pound of bodyweight (not lean body mass, as we calculated with protein) is a good range to start with depending on your individual goals and preferences.

5) Determine your carbohydrate intake. Whatever calories remain after calculating protein and fat intake will be allotted to carbohydrates.

6) Be considerate of fiber intake. Aim to consume a minimum of 10g of fiber per 1,000 calories you eat.

7) Monitor your results and adjust caloric and/or macronutrient intake as necessary. As you continue to lose body fat, you will either have to increase energy output (burn more calories) or decrease energy intake (consume less calories), to promote further progress.

Let’s discuss this one in the next section…


If you follow the numbers you generate for yourself using the calculations outlined in this article, I have no doubt that you will get great results using this as a starting point.

However, once you have made your initial calculations in terms of caloric intake and macronutrient setup, you must keep one very important thing in mind…
It’s only a starting point.

It’s important to understand that whatever macros or calories you work out for yourself is only a ‘best guess’. There is no perfect calculation that is going to be 100% accurate right of the bat for everyone.

In order to get the best results possible, you’ll have to make adjustments as you go based on your body’s response and progress.

How often should I make changes or adjustments?

Typically, if you have not progressed for 1-2 weeks, it may be time to make a change.

Anything less than 1 week is not a reliable indicator of progress.

If a 500 calorie deficit is allowing you to make steady progress at a good rate over the first couple weeks of your plan, keep it there as long as you can until progress starts to slow.

If you start to hit a plateau with the same caloric intake after a few weeks and haven’t lost any weight, then it’s probably time to reduce calories slightly.

How much should I change?

When making adjustments, my suggested incremental change value is approximately 5% of total calorie intake.

Patience is the name of the game.

Make small changes and get the most out of the least.

Ideally you want to make the smallest possible changes that still elicit progress.

When you make a drastic changes or reductions in calories, your metabolism is going to adapt after a certain period. Once it does, you have to make another change in order to see progress again, and you just lost all of the steps in between where you could have still been making progress with smaller changes.

When I am reducing calories, where should those calories come from?

Protein is needed for the maintenance of lean tissue when in a caloric deficit, and there’s almost no reason for it to ever be reduced.

The carbohydrates is going to be your go-to macronutrient when it comes to making reductions in calories.

Fat can also be reduced, but should never go below 0.3g/lb of bodyweight or 15% of total calories.

What kind of progress should I expect in terms of fat loss?

For most trainees I recommend aiming for approximately 1 lb of fat loss per week. This is a good rate to allow for sustainable progress to be made, and retainment of lean muscle mass.

Individuals that have significantly higher body fat (20-30%+) have the ability to lose weight at a faster rate, while safely retaining lean mass. I would recommend shooting for a 2 lb weight loss per week in this case.


If you want to consistently lose 1-2 pounds of body fat each week, you must have a properly structured plan in place that allows you to maintain a net calorie deficit for the week from a proper breakdown of protein, carbs and fats.

Ignore this basic rule, and you’ll be completely wasting your time and effort.

Worrying about things like meal timing, food selection, and fancy supplements are not going to be a good use of your time or energy until you have a proper foundation built. That means calories and macronutrients are set in place. The rest is icing on the cake.

The primary goal of this caloric setup and macronutrient breakdown is to provide:

1) A calorie deficit that is large enough to stimulate significant fat loss, but not so large that your energy levels dip, training performance goes down, and you risk losing lean muscle mass.

2) Sufficient protein intake to support muscle recovery and the maintenance of lean muscle tissue.

3) A balance of carbohydrates and fats to keep hormone balance in check, as well as to keep training performance and output at maximal levels.

It’s important to keep in mind that no set of macros will work perfectly for everyone, and some variables may need to be altered slightly to best suit certain individualistic factors.

However, if you use these guidelines as a starting point, you will be well on your way to achieving your fat loss goals.

Why You Shouldn't Ice After a Workout

Posted on April 20, 2016 at 5:26 PM Comments comments (261)
Why You Shouldn't Ice After a Workout

January 28, 2016
If you step into any sports training facility, you might see some exhausted athletes lying in a tub of ice after a workout. The ice bath has been around for years, but lately it has become a hot trend in recovery techniques.

Some facilities specialize in cryotherapy, which is the use of hyper-cool temperatures to speed up the healing process in soft tissue and joints.

These techniques are especially popular among athletes, and it seems that icing after workouts has become a standard method of recovery.

But what if I told you that using ice after a workout is the exact opposite of what you should do to speed your recovery? What if I told you that icing after a workout actually slows down and directly interferes with your body's natural healing process?
I really don't like to speak in absolutes, like "You should never ice after a workout again!" But in my opinion you should be doing other things instead.

The Beginning
Back in 1978, in The Sports Medicine Book, Dr. Gabe Mirkin coined the term RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). Since then, icing has been the standard treatment for injuries and sore muscles due to its ability to relieve pain immediately in a cost-effective manner.

I distinctly remember my 5th grade AAU basketball coach telling us about RICE techniques, and from that point forward, I iced every ache, pain and bruise. We learned it in middle school and high school health classes. Even my college courses supported RICE. Icing is literally the go-to default treatment for any inflammation.

It wasn't until a few months ago when I read a newsletter from Dr. Mirkin, the creator of RICE, and noticed a paradigm shift happening right before my eyes. Mirkin published an article that directly debunked his own theory and exposed the lack of benefits that come from icing injured tissue.

"Coaches have used my RICE guideline for decades, but now it appears that both ice and complete rest may delay healing, instead of helping," Dr. Mirkin wrote.

The article, "Why Ice Delays Recovery," opened my eyes to a legitimate question. Have we been doing recovery wrong all these years? Should we stop using ice after a workout?
I believe we should.

The Process
You're probably sitting there in disbelief like I was. At first, the idea that icing is bad for you blew my mind. But if we think in terms of basic health common sense, the idea isn't outlandish at all. In fact, after I outline my thought process below, you may wonder how you ever thought icing an injury was a good idea.

We know without a doubt that inflammation is necessary in the healing process. Without inflammation, the body doesn't know where repair is needed. The body has a natural mechanical response to inflammation, which is initiated by the circulatory and lymphatic systems.

In this context, the circulatory system's job is to send cells to the inflamed area for healing. Whether it's germs, allergens or damaged muscles, the body reacts this way every time, because it wants to get back to 100 percent functionality.

The lymphatic system is similar to the circulatory system, but it doesn't have a heart to constantly pump blood through it. 
Instead, it is activated by skeletal muscle contractions and breathing. The lymphatic system is the drainage system of the body. It delivers lymph, which contains the healing cells mentioned above, into the bloodstream so they can do their job.

With that as background, ask yourself what is the number 1 reason people ice an injury or ice post-workout? Answer: to reduce swelling (i.e., inflammation). But by reducing inflammation, you're counteracting your body's natural response to injury or trauma. You may numb or mask the pain, but in doing so, you are confusing your body so that it has no idea what area needs repair.

Ice has also been proven to decrease blood flow to the area of application, shrinking vessels near the injured area. Less blood flow to the area translates to fewer healing cells making their way to the injury. Again, counterproductive.

Lastly, the R in RICE now seems sketchy too. We know that the lymphatic system jump-starts the repair process, and that it is activated through muscle contractions. Complete rest is unwise in this situation because limiting muscle contractions would limit lymphatic activity.

So when we break it down it's simple: If ice reduces inflammation, and if inflammation is a key to repairing injury or damage, then icing slows down recovery. If you're into scientific data, you can read studies that support this theory herehere and here.

Not sure what to do instead of icing? Keep reading.

The Solution
I'm officially coining the term MACHO (Mobilize, Activate, Compress, Hydrate, Observe). This is my new standard for healing all plausible injuries. Instead of icing after a workout, give this a try.

Mobilization, when possible, is crucial to the recovery process. If you have a compound fracture in your leg, you obviously won't be able to do anything on your own. Go see a doctor. We're talking sprains, strains, pulls, bumps and bruises here, people.

Try to keep the region as mobile as possible by taking the nearest joint(s) through its full range of motion to the best of your ability.

Mobilization and activation go hand in hand. In this case, when mobility is too painful or simply impossible, activation is a great next step. 

Activation can be manual, with techniques like MAT, SMR or ART, where the muscle is precisely triggered by hand/object to promote activation.

If that is too painful, try another activation technique like the TENS Unit, which stimulates surrounding muscles without causing direct pain.

The only remaining letter of Dr. Mirkin's RICE is the C. The C, for compression, is here to stay.

Ideally, you want to compress the area and mobilize it while it is compressed.

You can lightly compress the area for extended periods of time with clothing or bandages, but only tightly compress the area for 2-4 minutes at a time about every 2 hours.

Water is essential for nearly every function of the human body, which is composed of about 60 percent water.

Dehydration can increase joint pain, muscle soreness and slow down the lymphatic process. Staying hydrated will ensure that everything is functioning properly.

I recommend athletes drink two-thirds of their body weight in ounces of water per day. Take your weight and multiple it by .66 to get this number. Example: A 200-pound athlete should drink 132 ounces per day (.66 x 200 = 132.)
When you're injured, I recommend adding 24 ounces to whatever total you usually aim for.

Observation is the last (but not least) step to the MACHO system. Your body gives you continual feedback during the recovery process. It's your job to observe and react to it.

How does the affected area feel?

  • Are you still in pain?
  • Has the issue become worse?
  • Are you feeling the repair process take place?

How does the affected area look?

  • Is there bruising?
  • Is your inflammation decreasing on its own?

Value the feedback from your body and use it to your advantage by taking measures toward rehabilitation of the injury and plans for future injury prevention.

Final Thoughts
My recommendation is to ditch the RICE technique and move to my MACHO technique.

  • Better name. MACHO > RICE
  • Better logic. MACHO makes sense when you think about the processes of the body.
  • Better results. MACHO has impacted my clients' (and my own) training with positive results.

All due respect to Dr. Mirkin. I only hope to have half of the success, knowledge and impact he's had in the sports industry. But when the man who invented RICE tells you to move away from it, it's time to move away from it.

Anti-inflammatory methods can mask pain or soreness temporarily, but that doesn't equate to full functionality. Follow the MACHO steps to recovery for fully healed injury with long-lasting benefits.

You can find the original article at here:

5 Useless Rehab Methods Still Widely Used

Posted on April 20, 2016 at 4:59 PM Comments comments (221)

5 Useless Rehab Methods Still Widely Used

Athletes are always looking for the next trick—whatever can heal their bodies faster and get them ready for competition. But there's a lot of misinformation out there.

Here are five commonly used rehab and regeneration methods that are ineffective, and what you could be doing instead.

1. Kinesio Tape
Taping is a regular part of many athletes' routine, but Kinesio tape is something else entirely. Kinesio tape first made waves during the 2008 Summer Olympics, and prominent athletes like James Harden wear it while playing. Some athletic trainers believe that Kinesio tape can help prevent injuries and improve blood flow.

But other medical experts view Kinesio tape, while not harmful, as nothing more than a placebo. The New York Times looked at the research and found that "today's science does not show that kinesiology tape is preferable in any way to plain athletic tape for the management or prevention of sports injuries."

Sometimes athletes misuse plain athletic tape, too. Taping should be done by a trained, certified specialist.

2. Static Stretching
When most of us were little kids playing weekend soccer or basketball, we were taught about the importance of stretching as part of a warm-up. We sat down, tried to reach our toes, and worked to complete exercises that were supposed to loosen up our bodies and prevent injuries.

But the latest research shows that static stretching before a workout or sporting event is potentially harmful. Holding some stretching poses for 30 seconds can loosen your muscles, but can also decrease their force and bend your body in ways it is not meant to bend.

Dynamic stretching is the better choice. By moving while stretching, you keep your muscles active and ready to go.

With that said, static stretching after a workout is a great way to increase length in a muscle, which increases mobility in the joint on which that muscle acts.

3. Anti-Inflammatory Medication
Sometimes, when you are feeling sore or in pain after a long day of training, you might pop some Advil to feel better and ease your inflamed muscles.

But you have to remember what inflammation is. When you exercise, you damage muscle tissue. To repair that tissue, your body releases chemicals and macrophages and brings in badly needed blood and oxygen. This process of minor damage and repair is what, biologically, strengthens your muscles.

Taking Advil can make you feel better, but it can also reduce the benefits of training. At least one study showed that "athletes who regularly take NSAIDs before exercise may have reduced tissue adaptation to prevailing loads, potentially predisposing them to future injury."

Taking Ibuprofen is OK after an actual injury, like a sprain, but you should also see a doctor. But in terms of regular maintenance, don't make a habit of taking anti-inflammatory medication.

4. Ice
If you exercise regularly, you've probably heard that ice is not as good for your body as was once believed. Even the man who came up with the RICE acronym (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), Gabe Mirkin, warns about the dangers of ice.

Ice does help numb pain, but it also restricts blood flow; and though this reduces pain, it also slows down the healing process.

Ice is useful in cases of truly unbearable pain, but under those circumstances you should be seeing a doctor.

Heat is a much better choice for low-level injuries, as it increases the blood supply and quickens the healing process.

5. Rest
The first part of the RICE acronym is also problematic. Of course, you shouldn't go for a jog right after you sprain your ankle. But too many people who get injured stop exercising entirely until the injury gets better. The problem is that if your muscles do nothing for too long, they start to weaken again, becoming more susceptible to future re-injuries.

You should keep doing some exercise and training within three to five days after an injury. Even in the case of a catastrophic injury where you can't use a certain muscle at all, training your other muscles will help the injured muscle's recovery. Proper compression can also help relieve pain and keep you active, even with a slight injury.

This article was originally published on STACK you can find it here:

5 Fat Loss Myths That Are Wasting Your Time and Energy

Posted on April 1, 2016 at 1:14 PM Comments comments (170)

5 Fat Loss Myths that are Wasting
Your Time and Energy  

This article originally appeared on the InBody Blog and can be found here:
Making a change in body composition comes down to two different goals: losing Fat Mass and gaining Lean Body Mass.  While everyone has a different body composition and will focus on these two goals differently, at the end of the day, everyone has to work on these goals to change their body composition.

Of the two goals, the discussions surrounding fat loss seem to fall victim to more myths, pseudoscience, and full-blown quackery than muscle gain. That’s because there’s a hard truth about losing fat that few people want to hear: if you want to lose Fat Massyou need to be in a caloric deficit (which means eating less than your body demands, increasing your energy output, or probably both), and it’s going to take longer than you might want.
And that’s the hard truth.  Today, people love shortcuts. They love “life hacks.” They want results without putting in the necessary effort.
It’s this desire for shortcuts to avoid the discomfort of making lifestyle changes that has created a slew of fat loss myths and whole cottage industry of products, articles, and “gurus” to support them.
Don't be fooled. Let’s take a look at some of the worst offenders and see what science has to say about them.
1. To Lose Fat, All You Have to Do is Work Out
You might start your fat loss journey by signing up for a gym.  This is a great start!  However, if this is all that you do, you could be wasting their time if you aren’t careful.
You see, fat loss occurs as the result of being in a caloric/energy deficit.  That means you have to take in less calories than your body requires.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, you need to reduce your energy intake by at least 500 calories a day to lose around a pound of fat per week.
Here’s the problem: if you start increasing your daily energy use at the gym, you’re going to feel hungrier than you do normally, and if you eat more than you used to as a result, from a fat-loss standpoint, your workouts are wasted.
Let’s say your body needs 2,100 calories to maintain its weight, and on a normal day, you eat 2,100 calories.  Your weight won’t change much, if at all.  Now let’s say you burn 300 calories on a stationary bike; now your body needs 2,400 calories to maintain weight.  If you make no change to your diet, you’ll be in a -300 caloric deficit.  But if you start eating more because you think “your metabolism is speeding up” (which is NOT how it works, by the way) you’ll negate any energy deficit you worked for, leading to no fat loss.
2. If You Eat at Night, You Get Fat
Eating at night seems to make sense intuitively.  If you eat a bunch of food and go to sleep, your body turns it all into fat because you’re not moving around and using it.  Just like a bear in winter, right?
This type of thinking ignores a basic physiological process: your metabolism, which is more formally known as your Basal Metabolic Rate.  Your BMR is the amount of calories that your body consumes over a 24-hour period at rest, and according to the CDC, it’s the amount of calories you burn over a 24-hour period that affects your weightThat includes when you sleep.
Let’s say your BMR is 1,600 calories/day. That means your body is burning roughly 67 calories per hour, which multiplied by 8 for an 8-hour sleep is a little over 533 calories.
This means that if you eat a meal right before sleeping, it’s much more important about how much you ate rather than when.  If your daily caloric intake to maintain weight is 2,100 and you decide to have a 200-300 calorie snack before sleeping when you’ve already eaten 2,100 calories that day, then yes, you will likely gain weight. But if you’re watching your caloric intake and a 200-300-calorie snack is still within your limits, you will be fine.
Also: the same is true for bears. They don’t wake up fat in spring, do they?
3. You Can Go On A “Detox”, “Juice Cleanse”, or “Juice Fast” To Lose Fat
This is an especially popular myth, and it has so much staying power because it involves something people know they’re supposed to do but don’t: eat enough fruit and vegetables.
Juice cleanses promise to remove harmful “toxins” from your body, which are blamed for causing everything such as tiredness, sluggishness, poor health, and of course: weight gain.
Juice cleanses are incredibly expensive – one company sells a 3-day regimen for nearly $200 – and are incredibly ineffective at producing lasting weight loss. Furthermore, there is virtually no peer-reviewed scientific literature supporting it.

Hop on Google Scholar for yourself and take a look; you won’t find anything published in any journal endorsing any type of “detox” or “juice cleanse” for weight loss.  You also won’t find any established organization like the CDC, Mayo Clinic, or US Department of Agriculture promoting them either. Instead, you’ll find these organizations expressly discouraging them. 
What you will find are many companies ready and willing to take your money for a couple bottles of fruit juice, which you could make yourself with a good juicer or blender for a lot less money. Why are so many people fooled by juice fasts??
Because of what happens when you go on a 3- day ANYTHING fast: you deprive your body of essential macronutrients, causing you to go into a temporary caloric deficit as well as significantly reducing the amount of glycogen in your body.  This has a significant effect on weight loss, albeit temporary weight loss.
Glycogen is an energy molecule that your body creates primarily from carbohydrates. Your body loves glycogen, and under normal circumstances is its preferred energy source. When you significantly cut carbohydrates out of your diet, your glycogen stores become depleted.
Reduced glycogen in your body has a significant effect on your weight because water bonds to glycogen at a rate of about 3.5 grams per gram of glycogen. Cut out the glycogen when you go on a juice “cleanse” for a couple of days and all you’ve done is lose water weight, which you’ll gain right back after your expensive “detox” ends.
4. You Have to Go on a Low-Fat Diet to Lose Fat
Remember this picture?Write your post here.

This one is a bit tricky because technically, this partially true:  cutting dietary fat out of your diet will cause you to lose fat if it causes you to be in a caloric deficit, but that’s only because cutting anything out of your diet will also cause you to lose fat too, regardless of nutrient source.  

Fat alone doesn't make you any more fat than carbs or protein do. Yet, a stigma against dietary fat still exists.

This a shocker for many because anyone born after 1980 has never lived in a world where the promotion of a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet wasn’t a standard dietary recommendation from the US government.    

That’s because in 1977, a controversial set of well-intentioned dietary recommendations explicitly linked dietary fat to a whole host of dangerous diseases including heart disease, cancer, obesity, and strokes.  As a result, the high carb/low fat diet was introduced and officially recommended by the US Department of Agriculture.    

Americans, following their government’s advice, began to eat more carbohydrates in place of fat.  What followed was a sharp, 20+ year rise in obesity.

Due to facts like these, in 2010, researchers writing in the journal Nutrients published a study bemoaning that some controversial positions - such as the demonization of fat - had been allowed to persist unproven for 30 years and reappear in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
5 years later, their concerns were finally heard. When the guidelines went through their scheduled revision, the 2015 guidlines both lessened the recommendations for carbs and increased those for fat while waiving the ban on dietary cholesterol altogether.
Does this mean that you can eat as much French fries, fried foods, and every other delicious fat-filled treat and expect to avoid health problems? Of course not. There is still such a thing as good and bad types of fat. Trans fat is still super bad. 

But this does mean that outright cutting out all fat from your diet or stressing about reducing your dietary fat intake isn’t always necessary.
While cutting fat is a good way to reduce overall caloric consumption (at 9 calories per gram, fat is the most calorie-dense macronutrient), what’s more important for most people is to try to stay within their recommended daily caloric intake and not take drastic dietary steps like significantly reducing or eliminating an entire nutrient group.
Oh, and the food pyramid? It actually doesn't exist anymore
5. You can Burn Fat by Targeting it With Exercise
This myth, despite being disproven in the scientific literature a number of times, remains a particularly resilient myth because it touches on a major fitness stressor that many people have: “How do I get rid of this belly fat?!”
Like juice cleanses and detoxes, this myth has created an endless supply of articles – like this one from – supporting the myth that somehow strength/resistance training burns fat in a specific area.  
That’s not entirely accurate.  Strength and resistance training is designed to build musclenot burn fat. The more crunches you do, the bigger and stronger your abs will be; but you won’t get any closer to actually seeing abs without reducing your body fat percentage.  That means fat loss which means using more energy each day than you consume.
Does this mean that developing your muscles won’t result in burning fat? No, it actually can, but the fat loss won't be specific to the area you worked out. Increases in Lean Body Mass (which your skeletal muscle makes up a part), influence your metabolism by increasing your BMR. This means the amount of calories you're eating plays a role as well.
So, in theory, if you increase the number of calories your body needs in a day because you have more muscle, but you don’t increase your calorie intake at all, you could lose fat over time – but this is going to be a much slower/indirect process and will do nothing to target belly fat, arm fat, or any other fat.
Don’t Waste Your Time
Almost everyone has some fat they’d like to lose.  Having extra fat on your frame can be very frustrating because it can significantly influence your appearance, how your clothes fit, and your health.  That’s why it’s so tempting to believe one or more of these fat loss myths.  They’re easy to believe in, and they promise results if you believe and follow them.
Unfortunately, if you try to lose fat by following these or other myths you may have heard of, it’s going to take much longer for you to lose the fat you want to lose.
Don’t waste your time. To lose fat, stick to the basics; stick to what’s been proven over and over again in the scientific literature.  Proper diet and exercise might not sound like a fast and easy way to go, but there’s a reason why any trainer, nutritionist, or researcher worth their title will tell you to do it: because it works.
When you hear something about fat loss that sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Stick to the basics and you will see results. 

How Weight Training Helps Women Lose Weight

Posted on March 28, 2016 at 3:04 PM Comments comments (133)
You Think Lifting Weights Make You Huge?
FALSE – Eating Cupcakes Makes You Huge!
How Weight Training 
Helps Women Lose Weight (Fat)

When we workout, especially if we’re seeking fat loss and a change in body composition, we want to chase a hormonal effect from exercise rather than an amount of calories burned.  Our hormones run the show and dictate everything our bodies do.

Strength training creates the most positive hormonal environment in our bodies conducive to fat loss. It also helps to boost our metabolism, which slow, steady-state cardio doesn’t do. Steady-state cardio does provide a myriad of health benefits, but it isn’t the quickest, most effective and most sustainable method for fat loss and shouldn’t be our primary means of exercise.

Ideally, you should prioritize moderate-to-heavy strength training with an appropriate amount of cardio on an “as- needed” basis. 

Strength training also helps preserve and increase our resting metabolic rate (how many calories we burn in a day) by preserving and increasing lean muscle mass. Our bodies burn more calories by maintaining muscle than they do by maintaining fat, because well, muscle is harder to maintain that fat is. So a higher amount of muscle = a higher, better crankin’ metabolism.

It’s important to mention that when people say weight loss, they really mean *fat* loss – weight loss doesn’t specify where the weight is coming from. It could be fat, it could be muscle, water loss, poop or cutting off a limb (hey, that counts as weight).

The number one way for the majority of people when trying to lose body fat is to preserve as much lean muscle as possible. 

Remember, muscle = increased metabolism!

When we haphazardly lose weight as opposed to just body fat, we also lose muscle and other lean mass which plummets our metabolism and makes the weight loss harder to maintain (because now that our metabolism has decreased, we can’t consume as much food as before without gaining fat). 

This is why so many who experience weight loss, especially at a faster rate or without a proper strength training or nutrition program, usually end up gaining it all back and more.

Fat loss specifically targets losing just fat while maintaining muscle.

Maintaining and building strength is the absolute best way to ensure you’re not losing muscle. 

Strength training is also the key to appearing more toned after we lose fat. And beyond vanity, strength helps us embody more confidence because we can lift some major poundage and we feel powerful as heck.

So in terms of fat loss and changing our bodies, strength training while eating in line with our goals is the #1 priority AND our healthiest, sanest and most sustainable option.

Be aware of gimmicks that tell you otherwise!

How I Quit Weekend Overeating.

Posted on March 22, 2016 at 2:58 PM Comments comments (102)
How I Quit Weekend Overeating

5 strategies that helped me ditch the bingeing, guilt, and extra weight.

In my world, weekend overeating (and over-boozing) was ‘just what people did’. But when I let go of weekday food rules, the cycle broke. I dropped the guilt, improved my health, and lost weight.
I used to overeat like a boss.
True story.
Sure, I was “good” all week.
But weekend overeating? That was my jam.
Every Friday around 5pm, as I waited for the bus after work, I’d start to salivate. The end of the work week meant red wine, pizza, a giant bag of chips, and bad movies. It was a Friday ritual.
Sometimes I’d call my husband while waiting. 
What should we get on the pizza? They do that really good pesto sauce with goat cheese. What about extra sausage?
Friday night, when I got to eat whatever I wanted, was the highlight of my week.

My job was stressful. The commute was long. Coming home, dumping my stuff, and crushing some fast food and booze was my way of unwinding.
Friday became a gateway drug to the rest of the weekend.
I ate big breakfasts on Saturdays before I went to the gym, and big lunches afterwards. I went out on Saturday nights for drinks and a heavy meal. Or stayed home for more takeout and movies on the couch.
Then came Sunday brunches, of course. And picking up some of those amazing cookies at that little coffee shop on Sunday walks. And, naturally, you close weekends with a big Sunday roast… because it’s Sunday.
Because it’s Friday. Because it’s Saturday. Because it’s Sunday.
Which bled into: Because it’s Thursday night. Technically close enough to Friday. Friday-adjacent, and good enough.
In my head, the weekend was a time where “normal rules” didn’t apply. It was a time to relax, put my feet up, and let the soothing crunching and chewing take me away.
I’m not talking about compulsive bingeing here. That’s where you have episodes of eating without thinking, almost like you’re on autopilot.
(People with binge eating disorder feel disassociated while overeating and that can be hard to break without help from a doctor or therapist.)
But for me, it wasn’t that. Rather, mine was the kind of overeating where you’re all-in: a convenient, stress-fueled, often social, habit.
My social circle was happy to support it. I had binge buddies and pizza pals. As far as I was concerned, going hog wild was just what people did on weekends.
Looking back, I also know that in the face of a stressful job and overwhelming responsibilities my overeating ritual made me feel sane and human.
After a while, though, weekend overeating started to suck.
As every over-eater knows, the joy of runaway indulgence comes with consequences.
You feel physically uncomfortable, bloated, perhaps even sick to your stomach.
Mentally, you feel crappy. Guilty. Regretful. Maybe angry at yourself. Or just angry in general.
And while weight fluctuation is inevitable when you’re trying to get in shape, if you want to stay healthy and fit, or make fitness and health a permanent part of your lifestyle, then weekend overeating can sabotage your goals.
Aside from the obvious extra body fat or stalled performance, there’s other unwanted stuff.
Like your joints hurt because of inflammation from last night’s junk food. Or you’re too full to run properly. Or you lie awake in bed with meat sweats, huffing in small breaths around the food-baby in your belly.
Yet the cycle can be hard to break.
I tried to get it under control.
I started cutting deals with myself, such as, if it’s “real food” then it’s okay to overeat. (Cue jars of almond butter, spinach pizzas, and all-you-can-eat sushi.)
During the week, I trained harder. Ate less. Tracked low and high calories in a spreadsheet. But every starvation attempt was inevitably followed by an even bigger blowout on the weekend.
The cycle continued; my health and fitness goals remained elusive.
How I finally broke the cycle of weekend overeating.
How did I finally break free? Maybe not how you think.
I didn’t use “one weird trick”, or biological manipulation, or reverse psychology.

Rather, I developed a healthier relationship with food… and myself.

Here’s how:
Strategy #1: I aimed for “good enough” instead of “perfect.”
I’ve seen it in so many nutrition coaching clients.
They want to follow the “perfect” diet.
So they adhere to strict meal plans (to the last measured teaspoon) Monday to Friday. And, the whole week, they worry incessantly about screwing things up.
By the weekend, though, the willpower gives out. They’re so sick of restrictive eating and can’t wait to eat food they actually enjoy. Bring on the weekend binge!
For most of them, there are only two options: perfect or crap.
So the logic follows:
“It’s Saturday, I’m out to lunch with my family, and I can’t have my perfect pre-portioned kale salad like I usually do, so instead I’ll just overeat a giant bacon cheeseburger and a huge heap of fries.”
If you take “perfect” off the table, things change. You feel empowered because there are now other options. Instead of kale salad vs. five servings of fries, there’s:
“I’m actually in the mood for a salad with my burger because I had fries at that work lunch on Thursday.”
Therefore, my solution: Always aim for “good enough”.
Throughout the work week and the weekend, I started to consider my health and fitness goals, what I was in the mood for, what was available, etc. I came up with a definition of “good enough”, and aimed for that.
Remember: The decent method you follow is better than the “perfect” one you quit.
Strategy #2: I let go of my food rules.
If perfectionism is the Wicked Witch of overeating, then food rules are the flying monkeys.

Food rules tell you:

  • what you can and can’t eat
  • when you can or can’t eat it
  • how you can or can’t eat it
  • how much you can or can’t have

Spreadsheet time!

These rules take up an awful lot of mental real estate. They also set you up for dis-inhibition… aka “the F*** It Effect”.
Here’s how the F*** It Effect works.
Let’s say your #1 food rule is Don’t Eat Carbs. No croutons on the salad; won’t touch a sandwich; no potatoes with your omelette. Thanks.
But this Friday night, you find yourself out with friends, and everyone’s having beer and pizza. You hold out for a bit. Finally, you give in and grab a slice.
That means f*** it, you’ve “blown your diet”, so you might as well keep eating. Cue the binge and uncomfortable after effects.
Of course, if you have one food rule, you probably have several.
That means there are lots of ways to “mess up” (and dis-inhibit). Maybe all night. Maybe all weekend.
Eating by the rules almost always leads to overeating crap, because once you deviate, there’s nothing left to guide you.
My solution: I ditched the rules and let hunger be my guide.
Non-dieters (or so-called “normal eaters”) eat when they’re physically hungry and stop when they’re physically full, no matter if it’s Wednesday or Saturday, morning or evening, work lunch or happy hour.
Start by paying attention to your own food rules and responses.
When, where, and how are you likely to say, “F*** it?” What might happen if you let go of that rule and really tuned in to your physical hunger and fullness cues instead?
Strategy #3: I gave up on “Cheat Days.”
Monday through Saturday is all about being faithful to your diet. But Sunday… That’s Cheat Day.
Oh, Cheat Day. The happiest day of your week.
You wake up on Cheat Day morning like a kid at Christmas. Go hog wild all day long, eating all the stuff you didn’t permit yourself during the week.
As evening nears, you start to freak out. So you eat (and maybe drink) even more. Because tomorrow, it’s back to reality. Back to fidelity and compliance.

And no fun.

Sure, some people find the idea of a weekly Cheat Day useful both mentally and physically. If this is you, and it works for you, then by all means continue.
But for most of the people I’ve coached, having one Cheat Day means the rest of the week is food purgatory.
My solution: I quit the Cheat Day routine, and gave myself permission to choose what I wanted all week long.
Like the F*** It Effect, Cheat Day depends on scarcity.
Scarcity makes us feel anxious, needy, and greedy. The counter to a scarcity mindset? Abundance.
For you and most people around you, food is abundant — not something to be hoarded or feared. (If that’s true in your life, be grateful. It’s a privilege.)
You don’t need to “cheat” because there’s nothing, and no one, to “cheat” on. Maybe you enjoy some dessert on a Tuesday night because you’re in the mood for it, or maybe you don't because you're satisfied from dinner. 

What and when you eat is up to you — and your hunger and fullness cues. No matter what day of the week it is.
Strategy #4: I owned my choices 

(Really Owned them.)
Do you ever barter with yourself? Make deals, trades or swaps related to food?
“Okay, self, I’ll turn down dessert today… but I’m gonna collect on the weekend and you better pony up the whole damn pie.”

In this mindset, one “good deed” gives you license to “sin” elsewhere. These trades rarely pay off — they usually just amount to a lot of mental gymnastics that help you avoid making tough decisions and help you justify overeating.
Look, we’re all adults here. Trading off “good” and “bad” is for little kids and convicts. There is no “good” and “bad”. There’s no prison warden holding the keys.

Mind games like this undermine your health goals — and your authority over your decisions.
My solution: I started owning my choices, and letting my adult values and deeper principles guide me when I sat down to eat.
I started making food decisions by acknowledging the outcome I would expect, based on my experience. For example:
“I’m choosing to eat this tub of ice cream on Saturday night. I’ll probably feel nauseated and anxious afterwards. In this instance, I’m fine with it.”
In the end, own your choices: Don't moralize them. You’re free to eat and drink anything you want. You choose your behavior.
Just remember that different choices produce different outcomes.

It’s your call.
Strategy #5: I stopped rationalizing.
Weekends present all sorts of comfortable justifications for eating a bunch of non-nutritious foods.

It could be anything:

  • You were busy. Or maybe you had nothing going on.
  • You were traveling. Or maybe you were at home.
  • You had to work. Or you had no work to do.
  • You had family/social meals. Or maybe you ate alone.

Any excuse will do. Powerless victim of circumstance!

But busyness, boredom, travel, work, or family dinners don’t inherently cause overeating. People eat or drink too much in lots of different situations. Their explanation simply matches whatever happens to be going on at the time.
Rationalizations are a convenient script. They help us make sense of — and perpetuate — our overeating or other unhelpful behaviors.
My solution: I stopped rationalizing and asked myself why I was really overeating.
Sometimes, you’ll want to eat crap. And too much of it. That’s normal.
But instead of falling back on the tired victim-of-circumstance narrative, take the opportunity to ask yourself what’s really going on.
Are you bored? Stressed? Sad? Happy?
Do this over and over and over, and you’ll start to see some patterns. That’s your pot of gold. That’s your opportunity to change overeating behavior — and do something else to address those emotions instead of bingeing.
What to do next:

There's no perfect time to eat better. Not tomorrow; not on Monday. 

Life is always a little nuts.
All we can do is our best with what we’ve got. Right here, right now.
Here’s where to start.
Ask yourself: How’s that weekend overeating working for you?
If you’re loving your Cheat Day, Friday junk-food bonanzas, or gut-punching Sunday brunches, and you’re happy with the results, keep doing it.
But if you’re conflicted, it could be time to investigate further. 

Ask yourself: 

  • What does weekend overeating do for you? 
  • What is it a path to? 
  • What does it enable you to get or feel? 
  • How does it solve a problem or have a purpose for you?

In my case, weekend overeating was self-medication for stress, stimulation and novelty, and a way to connect with other people.
To rearrange your mindset and break the cycle of weekend overeating, try:
  •  aiming for “good enough” instead of “perfect”
  •  letting go of your food rules
  •  giving up the Cheat Days
  •  owning your choices
  •  quitting the rationalizations
If you feel urgency or compulsion when you overeat, consider talking to your doctor or a trained professional about binge eating disorder.
Apply the “clean slate” method.
The clean slate approach means that after any and every “screw-up”, you get to start fresh.

Overate Friday night? No problem, wake up Saturday morning and start again. Don’t try to compensate. Just get on with things as normal.
You don’t “pay back” the damage in the gym, nor do you kamikaze your way through a jar of peanut butter. You just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go back to doing your best.
Put someone else in control for a while.
Yes, you are the boss of you, and you should own your choices. But changing a deep-seated habit — even one that on the surface may seem silly and harmless, like overeating on the weekend — is challenging. Really challenging.
And just like weight loss, the process of changing your habits will have ups and downs. It helps to team up with someone who will support and encourage you.
Find a friend, a partner, a trainer, or a coach, who will listen to you and keep you accountable. For many clients, relinquishing control is a choice they’re glad to own.
Eat, move, and live… better.
The health and fitness world can sometimes be a confusing place. But it doesn’t have to be.

9 Fat Loss Mistakes You Don’t Realize You’re Making

Posted on March 21, 2016 at 5:12 PM Comments comments (192)
9 Fat Loss Mistakes You Don’t Realize 
You’re Making

Rest assured, this isn’t the typical listicle article filled with overdone, regurgitated tips you see splashed on magazines. That’s why the title is appropriately 9 Fat Loss Mistakes You Don’t Realize You’re Making.    

Can you attest to this: trying to lose fat is a miserable process?

Embarking on a fat loss journey falls on a scale somewhere between this sucks and screw this my life is miserable because, let’s face it, no one claims to be having the time of their life when on a fat loss mission.

You go on a diet, avoid foods or entire food groups, end up dreaming about cheeseburgers (veggie burgers, for you vegetarians) and subsequently wake up gnawing on your pillow in the middle of the night. You focus on the things you can’t eat, and when you do give in to temptation (you know it happens!) you experience guilt and shame afterward.

This is usually followed by a commitment to “get more serious” and diet harder going forward. Heck, many times it means doing an extra or more grueling workout because you ate that gooey, chocolaty brownie or a sleeve of Girl Scout Cookies (I’ve devoured my share of Thin Mints).

And so the cycle — diet, avoid certain foods, resist temptation, give in to temptation, feel guilty, do an extra workout — continues for as long as you can manage before the entire process becomes too overwhelming, and you quit.

You revert back to easier, natural habits. Some time passes and you decide, once again, to get serious about losing weight. And you get right back on the cycle, albeit with a different diet this time (because a different diet has to be the answer, right?).

This cycle likely looks eerily familiar because most women have gone round and round more times than they can count (at one point I was a frequent passenger).

Would you like to get off that rollercoaster of misery for good, lose fat, and actually keep it off? No guilt, shame, or deprivation required and you can actually feel good about yourself in the process. (Yes, I’m aware that sounds like a cheesy infomercial, but you’ve stuck with me this far; keep reading and you’ll be a believer too.)

It is possible. You just need to avoid nine fat loss mistakes you don’t realize you’re even making.

9 Fat Loss Mistakes You Don’t Realize You’re Making

Failing to lose fat and keep it off happens because you didn’t stick to your diet or work out enough, right? Most think that’s the case, but it’s the wrong assumption. Here are the real fat loss mistakes you’ve likely made, and you’re probably unaware of them.

1) You expect perfection instead of preparing for inevitable failure.

You’ve never seen this one before, have you? Don’t let it scare you!

Sure, you can plan to go from point A (your current weight) to point B (a lower weight), but there will be “failures” along that journey. What are those failures? You’ll miss workouts, most likely. You will overindulge or eat too much, at some point (e.g., birthday, holiday, etc). Instead of moving your body you may end up binge watching TV over the weekend. Instead of eating a meal that’s comprised of real, unprocessed foods you may give in to temptation and order a greasy pizza. You may get sick and have to stay in bed for several days.

Expecting perfection — eating “perfectly” every day, never missing a single workout, getting sufficient sleep every night, turning down a delicious dessert at your favorite restaurant — isn’t likely to happen for most people over a long period of time.

So why in the world do people start a fat loss regimen with the expectation of perfection?

Proclaiming to follow your plan “perfectly” is a mistake that must be avoided.

The Solution to Mistake #1: Do not demand, or expect, perfection. This is life, and in life the unexpected happens; you must account for that reality. You may get sick, have an emergency, or have to spend a chunk of time cleaning dog vomit off the rug that you would have used for a workout. Understand it’s about doing the right things most of the time, over a long period of time, and not chastising yourself when you slip up.

And when you do slip up, get back on track immediately. Learn what you can from the experience and move forward.

2) You don’t establish new, sustainable habits.

Anyone can lose weight rapidly, but keeping it off long-term is what most people want. Sadly, they don’t accomplish that. A main culprit to failing to establish sustainable habits: you changed too much too quickly, so nothing stuck. This is a classic example, and you need only to think about the last diet you tried. How long did you stick to it before you gave up and went back to your old ways? Was it so time-consuming that you knew you couldn’t do it forever (e.g., weigh every piece of food, avoid a huge list of foods, pack meals with you everywhere you go, take expensive supplements, etc)?

Sure, doing a dramatic diet for a few weeks will result in fat loss, but at what cost? You’ll regain the weight once the diet ends (or you, understandably, quit). The goal should be sustainable fat loss; otherwise, what’s the point?

The Solution to Mistake #2: Change one thing at a time. This is especially powerful when it comes to nutrition, the area people struggle most. Making one change at a time is something everyone can do, because it’s ONE thing. Want to make it even better? Choose the simplest change first, practice it daily for at least one month. Repeat.

Want some simple examples that pay huge dividends over time? Drink water instead of calorie-laden beverages. Increase your fruit and veggie intake (e.g., take a salad to work every day). Include a good source of protein with your breakfast to stave off hunger. Identify one simple change you can make, and do it daily.

This leads into the next important fat loss mistake.

3) You dismiss the basics because you think there’s better, more advanced, “super-secret” information that will provide faster results.

Want to see this in action? When you read the examples in the previous fat loss mistake (e.g., drink water instead of calorie-heavy beverages), did you say, “Duh, Nia. I already know that. Give me something else I can use”?
Thank you for proving my point.

We’re conditioned to believe there are secrets. That, if we look hard enough, we’ll discover what “they’re not telling us.” The bland, boring basics aren’t good enough; we know we can find something more “advanced” and rewarding.

That’s a huge mistake.

You can’t become a great cook until you can master the basics of frying an egg, dicing vegetables, and seasoning properly.

You can’t be a mathematician until you can do geometry and algebra (and before that: add, subtract, divide, multiply).

You can’t compete in the Olympics until you dominate your competition at lower levels.

The Solution to Mistake #3: Fat loss is no different! You don’t need anything more “advanced” until you master the basics for months. And even then, you may not need anything more; you’ll likely need to tweak a few variables. Master the basics.
Health and fitness can seem complicated because of the surplus of websites, books, and magazines, and many proclaim to have “finally discovered the one weird trick for rapid fat loss!” or the “revolutionary way to work out that burns tons of calories!” But it needn’t be this complex. Stick to the basics because they’ve been proven to work with real world experience and legitimate research.

4) You have a negative mindset; you’re often driven by guilt and shame.

Many people vow to lose weight because they hate how they look; perhaps they’ve “let themselves go” gradually over the years. This is typically combined with a punishment-mentality with food and exercise. “Great, I ate several cookies; now I have to go burn them off,” or responding with guilt and shame when the regimen proves to be too much (“I failed again. I’ll never lose weight because I can’t avoid my favorite foods forever”).

Many mistakenly believe using guilt and shame as motivators is beneficial (“I screwed up, so I’ll work harder now”), but it’s not — it’s harmful. You can’t berate yourself in to changing your nutrition or workout habits.

The Solution to Mistake #4: Quite simply, exercise should never be a form of punishment. I know it’s contrary to common knowledge, but fat loss does not have to be a miserable process. The way you eat and move your body should make you feel great about yourself. (Read that last sentence one more time, or twice.)

Don’t work out because you hate how you look. Work out to see what your body can do, and then discover what else it is capable of. Don’t avoid foods as punishment; eat primarily real foods you enjoy that make you feel great. Don’t force yourself to do exercises you hate; be active in a fun way.

Health and fitness, even when the goal is to lose fat, should be a process you enjoy. It should build you up (physically, emotionally, mentally), and not tear you down. 

Approach it this way and fat loss becomes a wonderful side effect. 

5) You obsess over the destination and don’t make the journey enjoyable.

When you begin your fat loss journey, you envision how great you’ll look once you lose weight. As a result, your happiness hinges up reaching that goal, and you (mistakenly) believe reaching it will make you happy (“I’ll finally be happy once I lose this excess weight”). This may be strong motivation at first, but it’s not enough to keep you going.

The Solution to Mistake #5: You must find a way to enjoy the process. Those who have success (not only lose weight, but keep it off) dig deeper for their motivation. They find ways to enjoy taking action today. For example, “I’m going to eat well today because it gives me energy and makes me feel amazing,” and “I’m going to beat last week’s workout performance,” and “I’m going to talk a walk today to enjoy the fresh air and move my body in an enjoyable way.”

Find a way to enjoy the things you do today, so you’ll keep doing them tomorrow. After all, if you despise what you’re doing this week, what makes you think it will be any better next month?

6) You don’t acknowledge what you’ve already achieved.
It never fails when I work with a new client that the first thing they tell me is how far they have to go. How they need to do X better and commit to doing Y. How they still have the “last few stubborn pounds to lose.”

I make them stop and answer the question, “OK, that’s fine, but what are you already doing well?” The question is answered with silence.

“Hello? You still there?”

“Uhh, yeah . . .”

More often than not, people are already doing productive activities. They work out once, twice, or three times per week; they’ve changed a few eating habits; they go for a walk a few times per week; they read books and websites (hello, you!) and listen to podcasts that arm them with the information they need to achieve success.

And, sadly, they fail to realize this. They think only about what they haven’t yet achieved, or how far they have to go.

What about you? Can you attest to this?

The Solution to Mistake #6: Stop. Seriously, just stop and take a moment to reflect on what you’re already doing; what you’ve already achieved. Whether you started your journey yesterday, last month, or years ago; stop and reflect on what you’re doing well for yourself. Be proud. You’re already a step ahead farther than you realize. Embrace it, dammit!

7) You try to see too far into the future and don’t focus on what matters: taking action today.

It never fails; people want to know not only what to do today, but they want to know what they should do two months from now. That’s a huge mistake. “OK, Nia. I know what to do this month. What should I start doing next month and the one after?”

This desire to know what to do for steps C and D when you’re still on A is a mistake.

The Solution to Mistake #7: Forget about next month or the one after. Hyper-focus on what produces the results: that’s what you do today. This week. This month. Focus on the now, because this is what you can control. Worry about next month when it arrives. You can’t skip steps, nor can you predict the future. Play the short-term game first.

8) You’re not using low hanging fruit to your advantage.

Low hanging fruit is defined as “a thing that can be won, obtained . . . with little effort.” When it comes to your fat loss goals, there’s low hanging fruit easily within your grasp. Research has shown that there are some powerful, yet small changes you can make that have profound effect. Most people dismiss this “low hanging fruit” and declare it too simple to actually work. Huge mistake. (And I’ll remind you to recall what was discussed in number three above: don’t dismiss the basics.)

There are simple actions you can take that boost your success rate, and you’re probably neglecting them.

The Solution to Mistake #8: Embrace the power of simple things like a checklist to keep you on track. Provide yourself with cues that nudge you into taking action; put your gym bag in the car the night before, lay out everything for your breakfast smoothie so you can quickly assemble it in the morning, pack your lunch, etc. Have a written plan of action for what you’ll do when faced with an obstacle (e.g., have to miss a workout, find yourself at a fast food restaurant, etc).

9) You’re waiting for the right time.

“When the kids are back in school,” or “next month,” or “when things finally calm down at work” are common excuses for not taking action now. Waiting for that magically time to appear is a humongous mistake.

The Solution to Mistake #9: Know this: there will never be a perfect time. The stars will not align. Things will never be less chaotic. And more than likely when A is no longer an issue, then B and C will pop up. There will always be something you must deal with. (Again I encourage you to read mistake one for a refresher on perfection; it ain’t gonna happen.)

You must act right now. You don’t have to do everything from the beginning, but do something. You could walk around your block every day, change one meal per day, or begin a strength training regimen. If you’re already eating well and working out, then focus on one additional change you can make to kick things up a notch. 

Do something, and do it today.

You May Have Problems, But (Now) Fat Loss Ain’t One

You were likely unaware of those nine fat loss mistakes, but now you know how to correct them going forward.

I am hopeful that you now know losing fat doesn’t have to be a process laden with misery, deprivation, guilt, and exhaustion. Those are not necessary elements of an effective fat loss regimen. You can actually enjoy the journey, feel great about yourself in the process, and maintain the results long-term.

Ready to lose fat and keep it off? You’re aware of the overlooked fat loss mistakes, and know how to avoid them going forward. Take action, right now.

8-Muscle Building and Leaning Rules for Women

Posted on March 19, 2016 at 11:47 AM Comments comments (283)
8-Muscle Building and
Leaning Rules for Women
What’s up with “toning?”  Toning simply means using resistance exercises (routines) to increase muscle density and lean out the body enough that the underlying muscle becomes more visible; in effect, building lean muscle burns more fat.  A muscle is toned by nature, however the amount of fat on top varies, as does the amount of subcutaneous water being retained, hence the puffy and/or “bulky” look.  What we really want is visible muscle definition with little fat, resulting in smaller overall arms, legs and torso.  

Maximizing and preserving valuable muscle is key to fat loss since the amount of lean muscle a woman holds is the #1 most important predictor of the resting metabolic rate (RMR.)

Don’t be afraid of muscle!  Simply take the right steps to maximize fat loss while building muscle and bulking becomes impossible.  In order to build lean muscle while burning fat, it is important to train optimally and eat for fat loss.  The difference between bulking and leaning out is your diet.  

Weight training is not what makes women huge... 
eating cupcakes is what makes women huge!

Here are the top muscle building tips for women.  

 #1: Weight train 3x/week minimum. Consistency is the key.  Consistent effort by getting in the gym at least 3x/week to generate even a little bit of muscle stimulus will pay off over time.

#2: Train with heavy weights. Ladies, get over your “flabby arms” and “thunder thighs”– lifting enough to coax the muscles to respond and generate muscle fiber breakdown builds lean mass during recovery and leads to fat loss… 24/7.  In other words, let your muscles do the fat burning for you.

#3: Train to failure. Use a weight that you can complete between 8-12 reps in good form will stimulate hypertrophy (size.) Your muscles should burn to the extent that you can’t complete another rep. with good form. This ignites the hormonal response necessary for hypertrophy and fat-burning. 

Training to momentary muscle failure is a very intense technique that puts a high demand on your central nervous system (CNS.) Therefore, you’ll need to rotate high intensity training periods that you stop short of failure. For example: Train one week with lighter weights, stopping before failure, then go back to training to failure 4-8 more weeks.  

Each individual is different, so you may have to make adjustments according to how your body responds. Some women can train longer at high intensity and some can’t.  Just listen to your body, if your joints ache, you feel lethargic and tired, you may be overtraining and need to rest. It is also important that you refuel your body with clean protein, complex carbs, a moderate amount of starchy carbs and essential fats (see below.)

You break down your muscle fibers and deplete your energy stores during your workouts.  Your muscles grow and become stronger during recovery.

#4: Eat protein pre-workout. Here’s where the fat-burning side of the equation comes in…eating 20-30 grams of whey protein 20-30 minutes before a workout, along with ~ 5g of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) encourages the body to pull from fat stores to power the workout and preserves muscle being used for energy.  Limit the carbs pre-workout since insulin’s presence in the blood effectively shuts down lipolysis (burning stored fat).

#5: Eat protein (and a little carb) post-weight training workout.  In order to capitalize on your tough weight workout, give your body the amino acids (protein) it needs to repair muscle.  You will also need some carbs in order to release insulin (the muscle-building pathway depends on it), however, too much carb will also store fat.  Find your unique Carb Tipping Point to know how many grams you should be getting.  I recommend starting with 20-30g protein and 20-30 grams carbohydrates (depending on your size) post-weights–good choices include bananas, honey, grape juice and white potatoes.

#6: Eat protein (and a little healthy fat) post-cardio workout. After a cardio-only workout, the muscles don’t require the same insulin stimulus as after a weight workout.  In fact, post-cardio is one of the best opportunities to burn fat.  Eating a bunch of carbs after a cardio-only workout may blunt the fat-burning effect of the workout so stick with veggies (High Fiber Complex Carbs.,) lean proteins and even essential fats.  

Here’s a sample of an excellent post-cardio shake:

In a blender or Vitamix, blend:
20-30 grams egg white protein powder
8 oz unsweetened Cashew or Almond milk.
2 tbsp natural peanut butter
5 grams of L-glutamine
Liquid Stevia to desired sweetness (it comes in flavors too)
1 cup ice

#7: Eat all of your starchy carbs for the day in your post-workout meal, and the next 2 small meals. For example, if you weight-train at 6 am, you eat carbs with a post-workout meal at 7 am, 10 am and 1 pm.  If you train at 7 pm, you eat starchy carbs at 8 pm, 6 am and 9 am the next day, etc.  

Your metabolism is elevated for at least the first few hours after your workout is over (maybe longer) and so the best time to capitalize on muscle building and utilize an elevated metabolism and avoid fat storage is in the hours following your workout. Starchy carbs include foods like potatoes, white and brown rice, oatmeal, corn, squash, zucchini, pumpkin, whole grains, quinoa, etc.  Consume one cupped palm of starchy carbs. each of the meals to reload your energy stores.  At all other meals (2-3),  just eat one palm of lean protein and one fist of fibrous veggies (greens, etc).  

#8: Sleep a minimum 8 hours each night. Getting enough solid sleep is one of the hardest things for most of us to do. Unfortunately, it is a key part of the muscle-building process.  Adequate rest and sleep are imperative in the quest for results.  Sleep is one of the key times in terms of growth hormone release, and is also one of the best times for fat burning.  However, sleeping only a few hours and/or eating a very high carb meal right before bed means that most of your sleep is spent digesting food and not even getting into the fat burning process yet.  Pair adequate rest with optimal nutrition for best results!

Energy & Calorie Density

Posted on March 18, 2016 at 12:34 PM Comments comments (294)
Here's an excellent article on nutrition by the world renowned Head Professor of my Nutrition Certification Course, Precision Nutrition. Ray

Energy & Calorie Density: 
What are your 4 pounds made of?
 By John Berardi, PHD; Ryan Andrews; MS, MA, RD

People generally eat between 3 and 5 pounds of food each day. If we prioritize natural, whole foods, the 4 pounds we choose will fill us up while boosting health and lowering body fat. If we choose “junk or processed food”…
I don’t know what you had for lunch today, but I had 18 apples.
What do you think of that? You probably think I’m a glutton and have the GI tract of a gorilla.
But check this – a typical fast food value meal has the same amount of calories as 18 apples. 18! So I wanted to see what would happen if I downed the same amount of calories from apples.
Not pretty.
Yet I’ve had buddies knock back 2 value meals while watching Monday Night Football. And no, I haven’t seen any of them go through a bag of red delicious by the 4th quarter.

What does this tell me? Well, it tells me that Mother Nature has got your back.

Real food regulates appetite – so you don’t overeat Real food controls blood sugar/insulin – so you can avoid energy swings and diabetes
Real food provides the best nutrition – so you can remain healthy for life
Real food has a sane amount of energy – so that you can’t accidentally overeat
Real food has a longstanding relationship with our body – so that our bodies know what to do with it
Energy density
This leads me to the world of energy density. Are you familiar with it? It’s the amount of energy (calories) per unit of food. Let me explain.

                   This is 200 calories of melon.               
 This is a lot of melon.  

This is 200 calories of cheese.
  This isn’t very much cheese.

        This is 200 calories of celery.           
 Good luck eating this.     

  This is 200 calories of a candy bar.
      Good luck NOT eating this.

Seeing a trend? It’s hard to rack up excess energy (calories) from whole, real, calorie-dilute foods.

Food poundage
Interestingly, research shows that most humans eat around 3-5 pounds of food per day. Indeed, as we approach 4 pounds of food intake for the day, most of us are feeling pretty satisfied.
Now, this can be 4 pounds of celery. Or it can be 4 pounds of candy bars. It’s not the food or calorie content that matters. It’s the volume/poundage that counts. And obviously, there are some big nutrient differences between celery and candy bars, right?
Now, let’s take some extreme examples of this…
•         4 pounds of raw veggies will provide 400 calories
•         4 pounds of raw fruits will provide 1000 calories
•         4 pounds of cooked whole grains/legumes provides 1600 calories
•         4 pounds of nuts/seeds provides about 10,000 calories
•         4 pounds of Lucky Charms, Pop Tarts, Cheese provides about 10,000 calories
Note: I’m showing calories only as a measurement unit to help illustrate a point. Don’t get wrapped up in the numbers.
People that struggle with body fat management tend to fill up on energy dense, processed foods. This means stored energy for later.
Translation: Fatness.
If we eat 4 pounds of energy-controlled, whole, real food – we get lots of nutrition with a calorie count that our body can handle.
What’s our poundage portion?
Most people in the U.S. are consuming (on average) the following amounts of food each day:
•         2.0 pounds of meat, dairy and eggs
•         1.5 pounds fruits and veggies
•         0.5 pound grains
•         0.5 pounds added sugars, fats and oils
•         = 4.5 pounds
•         = about 3,700 calories per day
What if we switched this around?
•         2.5 pounds of fruits and veggies
•         1.0 pounds of grains and legumes
•         0.3 pounds nuts/seeds
•         0.3 pounds meat, dairy and eggs
•         0.1 pounds added sugars, fats and oils
•         = 4.2 pounds
•         = about 2,075 calories per day (this isn’t really that much, especially if you’re physically active.)
Putting it to the test 

I’m curious: what does a day of my food weigh?

How much my day of food weighs = 3.7 pounds

Foods – Clockwise, starting in upper right 
•         2 lentil burgers, steamed broccoli
•         Peaches & blueberries
•         Raw buckwheat granola with hempseeds and flax
•         Roasted garbanzos & goji berries
•         Sprouted grain bread with peanut butter
•         Lettuce & kale
•         Celery, carrots, zucchini
I was surprised it didn’t weigh more. The actual food weighs less than 3.7 pounds, as the food containers contribute to the total weight. Although I did leave out condiments like salad dressing and mustard.
Note: this was just a random day of eating, for me. Some days I eat more, some less.
Also note: I choose to follow a plant-based diet, which is why you don’t see any animal foods here. However, my meat-eating friends have tried this experiment too and pretty much come up with the same result.
What have we learned today?
If we prioritize and eat nutritious, real, controlled energy foods – there isn’t much room left for the energy dense, fake foods. You only have about 3-5 pounds to work with each day.

So… think about it…what are your 4 pounds made of?