Food Under 400: Lunch Edition

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Food Under 400 is a compilation of super simple recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all under 400 calories. The best part? Soups, salads, or green juices are nowhere to be found on this list! So if you’ diet is starting to get bland and boring, throw one of these recipes together.

Cheesy Eggs & Rice

 

Ok maybe eggs are for breakfast, but I like to eat them at any time of day soo I included them for lunch. I love this recipe because it only has 3 ingredients, 4 if you include Mrs. Dash to season the eggs!


Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup… classic and simple. Not much more to say!

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Protein Nachos… you don’t have to give up your favorite foods, just clean em up a bit! This version is packed with protein!

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Chicken Quesadilla… another one of my tex-mex favorites. Xtreme tortillas are a game changer in the calorie department!

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Chicken Ranch Wrap… I didn’t mention it in the recipe since it’s zero calories, but add buffalo sauce or hot sauce, you won’t regret it!

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Charcuterie (Cheese) Plate… I love making this when I just want to “snack” on lunch instead of eat a bigger meal. You can mix it up with any flavor of laughing cow and stay under your calories.

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Whether you serve these recipes on their own, no matter if you make this in advance for meal prep or eat them freshly cooked, I’m sure they’ll make an awesome addition to your healthy diet. Snap a picture and share it with me by tagging @littlewarriorfitness or using #littlewarriorfitness I’d love to see your creations!

Food Under 400: Breakfast Edition

round white ceramic bowl
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Food Under 400 is a compilation of super simple recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all under 400 calories. I inserted photos of the exact ingredients, calories, and macronutrient breakdown so you can see all the details. The best part? Soups, salads, or green juices are nowhere to be found on this list! So if you’re diet is starting to get bland and boring, throw one of these recipes together.

Banana Pancakes… I like to top mine with sliced bananas instead of adding them to the batter. You can even use the same ingredients and turn them into waffles!

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Yogurt Berry Parfait… I eat this almost every single day of the week. Topping your fruit and yogurt with cereal instead of granola is a HUGE calorie saver on this one.

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PB Breakfast Sammies… simple swaps keep this recipe low in calories. Nature’s Own Bread and PB2 are to thank! I like to fry all THREE sandwiches up in a pan so they are nice and warm.

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Cinnamon Crunch Cereal… this one is as plain and simple as they come. Blend your protein shake and pour over cereal!

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Eggs, Turkey Bacon, and Buttery Toast… a real traditional breakfast that saves room for butter AND fits in your diet! For the egg whites 15 tbsp. = 1 cup.

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Bagel & Bacon… love this one because it’s simple to make when you’re on the go!

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Hearty Oatmeal… this recipe always reminds me of cozy winter time. Try microwaving your apple slices with cinnamon before tossing them into your oatmeal!

*My Fitness Pal calculates and recalculates serving sizes on some items and not others. 1/2 cup oats should actually be 1 full cup uncooked.

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Whether you serve these recipes on their own, no matter if you make this in advance for meal prep or eat them freshly cooked, I’m sure they’ll make an awesome addition to your healthy diet. Snap a picture and share it with me by tagging @littlewarriorfitness or using #littlewarriorfitness I’d love to see your creations!

The No-Nonsense Guide to Pregnancy Nutrition

If I were only passionate about fitness because of the way it made my body look, then I’d have to seriously reevaluate my motives. For me, getting pregnant and watching my body change has been a humbling and exciting (yes, exciting) experience. Right now I’m not worried about losing all my progress, gaining weight, or being imperfect. I’m worried about creating a healthy happy little human and if you’re pregnant, you should be too! One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is through your nutrition so let’s get started!

What is Reverse Dieting?
If you haven’t heard of reverse dieting, it’s pretty much the best thing ever… at least for nutrition nerds like me. Reverse Dieting is a period of time after a low calorie diet where you slowly work to increase your calories back to a maintenance level (or above). It helps you to recover your metabolisms and increase calorie intake with little body fat gain. However, you don’t HAVE to be pregnant or on a low calorie diet to begin a reverse diet. The slow and steady increase in calories will set up your metabolism for long term success. In the fitness community we often see women who restrict calories or eat clean, only to find themselves binging on junk food. When your body has been in “starvation mode” for so long, it is going to want to hold on to all of the calories it consumes during that junk food binge. That leads to fat gain. So instead, reverse dieting allows a slow steady increase and gives your metabolism enough time to adapt to the changes without gaining too much body fat. It will also decrease the urge to binge on junk food because you are supplying your body with the calories and nutrients it needs to thrive.

What Do You Need?
Calories
I like to start with calories. Caloric needs are going to be different for every person which is why cookie cutter diets don’t work! You can use this calculator to find what your daily calorie intake should be. Remember that calculators are just estimates and that this number should be a baseline or a starting point, not something written in stone.

Macronutrients
Once a daily calorie intake has been established, I like to move on to macronutrients. Macronutrients are the the main nutrients you receive from the food you eat. They are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. You’ll keep protein constant, around 1.0 g/lb of body weight. Keep fat around 0.4 g /lb of body weight. You will then fill the rest of your calories up with carbs. Throughout your Reverse Diet, you will manipulate (increase) the amount of carbs and fats you consume on a daily basis.

Vitamins and Minerals
Moving down the nutrition pyramid, you’ll need additional vitamins during your pregnancy. First and foremost a prenatal vitamin. This will ensure you get enough folic acid, iron, and calcium. Most likely we don’t receive enough from our food alone. Taking a prenatal vitamin will help prevent any deficiencies in you and any birth defects in your baby. Remember, supplements do not replace a nutritious diet, they only fill in the gaps and prevent deficiencies.

Water
Lots and lots of water! This will help your body absorb and transport those essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to the blood cells that we talked about earlier. Not to mention it will help prevent UTIs and constipation! You should aim to drink about 96 ounces (about ¾ a gallon) of water everyday during your pregnancy.

Weight Gain Expectations
Let me start by saying every pregnancy is different! Some women will need to gain more weight, some women may need to gain less weight. These are simply guidelines for what you can expect during each trimester.

First Trimester
Expect to gain about 3 to 5 pounds. If you gain nothing, that’s ok too!
Second Trimester
Expect to gain 12 to 18 pounds, about 1 pound per week.
Third Trimester
Expect to gain another 12 to 18 pounds, again about 1 pound per week.

Sample Pregnancy Nutrition Plan
First Trimester
No changes in calories
Second Trimester
Slowly add in 300 calories
Keep protein intake the same. This will increase naturally as your calories and weight increase.
Increase carbs/fats by 0.2-0.5%
Third Trimester
Gradually add in another 200 calories
Keep protein intake the same
Continue to increase carbs/fats by 0.2-0.5%

Food to Avoid
Raw meat, deli meat, fish high in mercury, raw shellfish, raw eggs, soft cheese, unpasteurized milk, unwashed vegetables, caffeine, and alcohol.

Getting pregnant doesn’t mark the end of your fitness journey. It marks the start of a new journey! If you would like help creating a personalized reverse diet, send me an email and we can get you started on the right path!

*Every pregnancy is unique and different. I just want yours to be a healthy and happy one! I am not a doctor and you should always consult your physician before participating in any kind of physical activity or nutrition program.

A Fit Girl’s Review of Top Protein Brands

img_5646There are so many brands of protein on the market these days. How do you know which ones are high quality? How do you know which ones taste good? How do you know if they are worth the money? Well I’ve tried a lot of different brands so allow me to save you the time and money with my personal review of my top three favorite protein powders. I’ve reviewed the Vanilla flavors of each brand for comparison sake, there are many many more options out there. Keep in mind, most of this information is factual, but some of it is my own opinion… And you know what they say about opinions. Let’s go!

First up we have Dymatize Iso-100 Vanilla which is a whey protein. Although it is whey, it is lactose free, gluten free, and an isolated source of protein. This makes it very easy to digest. An isolated protein is also good to use immediately after a workout, whereas a protein blend like Quest (see below) is better to use throughout the day. Dymatize Iso-100 has the best nutrition profiles of the three. For only 110 calories you’ll get zero fats or sugars, one gram of carbs, and 25 grams of protein. Fats in your diet are not bad, but they do slow the absorption of protein so you definitely want to keep them low in your shake if you’re using it for recovery. Dymatize has a great branch chain amino acid (BCAA) profile with 5.5 grams per serving. You’ll also find 2.7 grams of Leucine per serving. Leucine is a (BCAA) and is the primary driver of muscle growth. This protein is creamy, smooth, and tastes great! They have a few other flavor options such as Birthday Cake, Fudge Brownie, and Cinnamon Roll. $49.99 might seem expensive at first but each tub contains 48 servings, costing you only $1.04 per serving!

Next we have Quest Nutrition Protein Powder. This is actually a blend of Whey & Casein Protein. Making convenient to use for breakfast, or snacks during the day. Whey digests quickly whereas Casein does not. If you have a sensitive stomach then this might be a good option for you since the blend allows it to digest at a moderate pace. Again, the nutritional profile of Quest protein is pretty great. For only 100 calories you’ll get zero fats or sugars (like Dymatize), three carbs, and 22 grams of protein. Not a huge amount, but enough to support muscle recovery and protein needs. Unfortunately, I could not find any information on the Leucine content of this protein which leads me to believe it’s low! However, Quest has some of the best tasting protein I have ever tried with absolutely no odd aftertaste. They have a lot of really delicious flavors such as Peanut Butter, Salted Caramel, and Chocolate Milkshake. It costs slightly more per serving than Dymatize at $37.49 per tub which yields 32 servings, coming in right at $1.17 per serving.

Finally we have Vega Sport Protein, not to be confused with the original Vega Protein. This is a plant based vegan protein powder. And I have to say I was skeptical at first, but was pleasantly surprised! The nutrition profile has more calories than what most women are looking for but provide big benefits. For 150 calories you’ll get 30 grams of protein, 4 carbs, 3 fats, and only 1 sugar. Vega Sport contains 6 grams of BCAAS and 2.9 grams of Leucine to support that muscle growth and recovery. Vega is also unique in that it contains probiotics, so again, if you have digestive issues this might be a good protein source to consider. The flavor and texture is definitely different than whey, but it’s thick and creamy! There are only two flavors that I know of which are Vanilla and Chocolate. The cost is pretty high too at $49.99 per tub with 20 servings, makes it $2.49 per serving! It’s still less than buying a smoothie, but it’s definitely not the cheapest!
Protein powder is not essential to a healthy diet, weight loss, or muscle growth, but it is a rather tasty, and convenient way to ensure you meet your protein requirements. I’ve included a table below to help you see the difference between each brand discussed in the article. Consider your goals, taste preference, and budget when choosing the right one for you. If you have any brands that you swear by, I would love to hear about them! And as always if you would like any personal nutritional guidance you know where to reach me!

A Beginners Guide To Supplements

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SupplementsIf it works, it’s banned. If it’s not banned, it probably doesn’t work. The main reason to take a dietary supplement is to fill a nutritional gap that you’re not meeting in your regular diet. Be careful though, because almost anything that is not classified as a drug can be stuffed into a capsule, pill, or powder and sold as a dietary supplement. People can take dietary supplements to prevent or treat specific health problems, enhance physical/mental performance, alter body composition, increase metabolism, or control appetite. Your diet may be lacking in nutrition if you: eat a lot of junk food, avoid macro groups (ie. “I’m not going to eat carbs/fat”), eating too much or too little of one macro group, if you eat only one large meal a day, and even if you’re a picky eater. In this case you would want to look at finding a well balanced approach, figure out what you’re lacking, and consider supplementing it into your diet. For now, we will focus on how supplements can help enhance your performance in the gym.
Ergogenic Aids are used to enhance your energy use, production, and recovery. Some work and are effective. Some are bogus and hyped up by marketing. Unfortunately, it takes some trial and error to discover what will work best for you. Below are general guidelines for three common performance supplements that have been proven successful.
Creatine

Creatine helps build muscle, increase strength, and it’s legal… Yay! It is synthesized in the body through amino acids methionine, glycine, and arginine. It’s also found in foods such as red meat. Typically you will load creatine for about a week and then follow that with a daily maintenance. You may notice weight gain at first because creatine draws water into the muscles and increases muscle protein synthesis. Creatine can be safely taken for up to 5 years. Remember that it is a supplement to your diet, so if you’re looking to gain muscle then you should also be eating enough carbs to enhance the muscle uptake of creatine. Creatine is a great supplement to consider if you want to increase your endurance, strength, and power.
Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant that mainly affects the central nervous system, heart, and muscles. For most, the best time to take any stimulant is 30 minutes to an hour before exercise. A cup of coffee contains about 200-350 mg of caffeine. Be cautious of over consumption of caffeine. Ingesting too much of it may have negative side effects such as: insomnia, anxiety, nausea, rapid heart and breathing rates, headaches, and even chest pain.
Pre-workout

If you’re in need of an extra boost of energy then you might want to consider using a pre-workout that combines both of those supplements. You’ll find creatine and caffeine in most brands of pre-workout. Most pre-workouts will also contain creatine-nitrate to enhance your strength/pump and beta-alanine to enhance your muscular endurance.
I always offer supplement recommendations to my clients based on their goals. There are so many supplements out there (CLA, BCAAs, L-Carnitine, HMB, Glutamine, etc.) that you can easily get confused if you take matters into your own hands. But, if you’re considering stacking your own supplements, ask yourself: Does it work? Is it safe? And is it legal/ethical? And remember there is no magic pill. Nothing will substitute hard work, intense training, and the right mindset. Before supplementing make sure your diet is on point, you are motivated, and your training is consistent. Once you decide to use supplements in your program, take the correct dose, the correct form, and follow the supplement guidelines to maximize the full potential, and enhance results safely.

For any supplementation questions or concerns, feel free to send me an e-mail at littlewarriorfitness@gmail.com. I’d be happy to help you get on the right path!

My Biggest Mistake With Hydration

clear disposable bottle on black surface
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We are made up of about 60% water, so the next time you gain a few pounds just go ahead and call it water weight. Totally kidding. We can go for weeks and months without certain macronutrients, vitamins, or minerals before we develop a deficiency. But we can only go a few days without water before we become dehydrated. Here’s why you need water, how it can benefit you, and some recommendations for how much you should consume.

First, let’s clear up that joke about water weight. When you gain water weight, the fastest way to alleviate it, is to actually drink more water. I know it seems counterproductive, but just trust me on this one. You might feel full or bloated, but drinking more water will actually help regulate your fluid retention. You’ll also find that your natural thirst will come back.

The more protein you eat, the more water you need to drink. “Protein requires seven times the water for metabolism than carbohydrates or fats,” according to Saunders College Publishing. Today’s dieters tend to follow the low carb, high protein route, which can be beneficial for weight loss. However, this can lead to decreased glycogen and hydration. If you’re running low on glycogen and water, your performance in the gym is going to suffer.

When your body is properly hydrated, your liver function improves, which increases the use of fat for energy. As humans, we will have a never ending supply of fat on our bodies, even if we are lean. However, we will not have an endless supply of carbs to use as energy. When you eat carbs your body turns them into glycogen. Your glycogen stores can run out, but your fat stores will always be available. Therefore, if your liver is functioning properly, you’ll be able to use fat optimally.

When your body is properly hydrated, your metabolic function improves. This is because nutrients are distributed throughout the body, which allows them to be absorbed and used for energy properly. Your endocrine gland function improves which allows for better regulation of your hormones, therefore better controlling your metabolism. When you’re properly hydrated, you’ll also notice that your body temperature regulation improves. This means less hot flashes, night sweats, and bouts of freezing chills.

When all of these things (metabolism, organ function, homeostasis, etc.) are functioning well, then you will perform well. If you have a fluid loss of even 2%, it could lead to decreased performance. That holds true if you are exercising in a gym, playing a recreational sport, or even working in the heat.

There are many different recommendations on how much water you should drink per day. Some trainers and athletes believe 1 gallon a day is the ticket. Some believe that you should drink 8, 8 ounce glasses. Some follow a mathematical equation to figure out their water intake. According to the Exercise and Institute of Medicine Recommendations for nutrition, men should consume 3L (13 cups) and women should consume 2.2L (9 cups) of water each day. If you exercise, then you should also be consuming additional water on top of that. I am definitely guilty of NOT drinking enough water. I know that I’m polluting the environment by buying cases of water bottles, but it’s the only thing that actually keeps me drinking the amount of water that I should be. At the end of the day, I always believe the best recommendation is the one that you will stick to. That could mean you’re carrying around a gallon jug, filling up a water bottle, buying cases of water, or just being mindful of drinking lots of water. Find what works best for you and stick to it!

How The “Experts” Are Ripping You Off

Let me preface by saying that this article should be read with a sharp mixture of sarcasm and seriousness.

Ok, so not EVERYTHING sucks… just anything that isn’t organic, cage free, vegan, gluten free, or grass fed. Right? Wrong. If you’re reading this and expecting to learn about how to become the epitome of health, then I suggest you click the red x in the corner of your screen right now. Because if we listened to every piece of advice given to us by the “experts” then we’d quickly convince ourselves that even water is bad for us. Give me five minutes and let me show you that you’re not going to die from eating that nitrate enriched deli sandwich made with white bread.

We tend to believe two things about food. 1. It’s keeping us alive (obviously) and 2. That it’s killing us. The whole idea is almost like backstabbing, you know? The one thing that gives us sustenance is the one thing that’s killing us. That doesn’t seem logical. It’s time to stop making a criminal out of the food that is actually keeping us alive. It’s time to stop fearing the expert studies and what “they” say. Who are THEY anyways? Nevertheless, here’s a quick list of all the items that THEY have convinced us are unacceptable for consumption…

A while back, peopled believed that fat was the culprit. So food manufacturers began to create and market everything as “fat free” like that’s what was going to magically keep us healthy! They introduced fat free milk, fat free salad dressings, fat free snacks. But guess what? That fat has to be replaced with something else, usually by carbs, sodium, or sugar. All of which we’ve decided are going to kill us as well. Eat a healthy proportion of fats like avocado, olive oil, or nuts.

Once the fat free fad fizzled out, people began thinking that carbs are the absolute worst. So the experts created the most unattainable diets to follow. We entered the era of the “Low Carb Diet”. Slim Fast, Atkins, and South Beach, were all the craze. Women were taking the buns off their hamburgers left and right, convincing themselves that the carbs in bread were leading to their weight gain. Did they see results? Yes, but here’s why… When women dropped their carb intake, they automatically dropped their calorie intake creating a deficit and they were also diminishing their glycogen stores. Decreasing glycogen does not decrease fat mass, it decreases water weight; which lead many women to think that a low carb diet was optimal for fat loss. In reality, the initial weight loss was water. Eat a healthy harmony of carbs such as potatoes, grains, and fruits.

On to the next sinner, sodium. People have tried desperately to eliminate sodium by following a low sodium diet. Let’s face it, sodium is in almost everything. As with anything, TOO much sodium can be detrimental because it can cause high blood pressure. However, we do need sodium in our diet for a few reasons. Sodium helps your muscles contract, it sends nerve impulses throughout your body, and regulates fluid balance. Including sodium in your diet promotes homeostasis within your body. It’s definitely not the worst thing you can ingest.

Meat, yet another food felon. Vegans unite!
Hey, I can actually poke fun at this one… Quick story, I went Vegan for a little over a month after stumbling upon information about the meat industry. However, I wasn’t forgoing meat to better my health, I went Vegan because I felt bad for the animals. Clearly, we all know meat will give us all heart disease, strokes, and cancer!
Studies have shown that eating meat makes it more difficult to maintain a healthy body weight. Studies have also shown that eating meat makes it easier to maintain a healthy body weight. So just eat fish right? No way, you can’t eat that! It contains too much mercury! So how in the world are people supposed to know which advice to follow? As previously stated, there is such thing as TOO much of a good thing. Are you seeing a trend yet? Just find a healthy balance.

Last but not least, vegetables. Those must be safe right? Yes, but only IF they are pesticide free and Non-GMO. We wouldn’t want to catch a case of Attention Deficit Disorder from eating too many vegetables (This has cynicism written all over it, if you didn’t catch that). I’ve actually heard someone say “I’m going to stop eating carrots because I heard they have sugar in them”. Think about what your grandparents would say if you told them vegetables were bad for you. Use your common sense, and eat your vegetables!

As stated in the introduction, that leaves us with water. But if you Google “Can too much water kill you?” you’re guaranteed to find a host of articles about this seemingly innocent assassin. Realistically, water will improve your endocrine gland function, liver function, metabolic function, help absorb more nutrients, and regulate body temperature.

My argument is that we all start eating logically and intuitively. Don’t let yourself get wrapped up in the latest Dr. Oz cover story. Don’t try to conform to the trendiest dietary cult. Don’t try to eliminate entire macronutrient groups. Try to find a healthy balance within the foods you eat. Because according to New York Times writer Jim Windolf, “We’re all going to die. And we all eat food. Therefore, food must be the culprit.”

If all of this isn’t insane enough for you, check out this article in Scientific America, advocating that we all start eating dirt. Yes, actual dirt.

Weight Loss: Simple or Complicated?

Weight loss is quite simple when you look at it on paper. Eat fewer calories than are burned and you’ll lose weight, eat more calories than are burned and you will gain weight. Calories in vs. calories out, end of story right? Mmmm… not quite. It’s important not to over simplify or over complicate nutrition.
Let’s begin with daily energy needs. Your total daily energy expenditure is known as your TDEE and is the amount of calories burned in a typical day. It is the sum of your resting metabolic rate (RMR), the thermic effect of food (TEF), and energy used during physical activity. Your RMR refers to the amount of energy expended while you’re at rest. The TEF is the amount of energy expended as a result of digesting food. Physical activity is pretty self explanatory. All of these factors contribute to how many calories you burn in a given day.

*If you’re REALLY interested in reading more about this, then leave a comment below. For time sake, let’s dive into macros a bit more.

Let’s start with protein, the king of the macros, hailed by all bodybuilders, the key to unlocking all the gainzzz! OK really though… The primary function of protein is to build and repair body tissues and structures. It’s not the most optimal energy source, but it can be used if calories are too low in your diet. Proteins are made of amino acids linked together by peptide bonds. Proteins are broken down into amino acids before the body can use them to build or repair tissues, which is why many bodybuilders are fans of drinking their aminos. Once the aminos enter the bloodstream they can be used for protein synthesis, immediate energy, or potential energy (stored as fat). Essential amino acids cannot be made by the body, therefore you have to eat them! If a food has all of the essential amino acids in the correct ratios it’s called a complete protein, if the food doesn’t have all of the essential amino acids then it is known as an incomplete protein. The main sources of complete protein are animal sources which are meat and dairy. Fear not vegan friends, your sources of incomplete protein are grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and soy. These can be combined to make essential amino acids and form a complete protein… yay for vegan gains! Protein requirements will be different for each person. During a negative energy balance (cutting phase) to reduce muscle loss you’ll want to increase your protein intake because you are most likely decreasing calories and increasing exercise. Even when dieting, the goal should be to satisfy your energy needs with carbs and fats and save protein for tissue repair and growth. This is why you might hear carbs referred to as “protein sparing”. Dieting can be difficult, but protein helps in satiety (feeling full) which will help you stay on track with your nutrition goals and ignore that bag of chips. Be careful though, if you are eating large amounts of protein then you will also need to stay hydrated by drinking more water since a high protein diet can dehydrate the body. Also, be cautious of higher intake of saturated fat, lower intake of fiber, and lower glycogen stores. A typical range of protein intake would be 10-35% of calories, although many people tend to go much higher, myself included.

On to carbohydrates the evil arch enemy… or so we thought. Carbs are generally classified as sugars, starches, and fiber. They are the main source of energy for the body, they help regulate digestion, and the use of protein and fat. Sugars can be found in foods such as honey or fruit and can be digested easily, whereas starches may take longer to digest because of enzyme break down. Carbs fall into a category called the glycemic index; the rate that carbs raise blood sugar and the effects that has on insulin release. Foods that are lower on the glycemic index are a good source of complex carbs, higher in fiber, and have a higher overall nutrition value. Some examples of low GI carbs would be yogurt, peanuts, or peas. Some examples of carbs with a high GI value would be rice, whites potatoes, breads, and cereals. After you ingest carbs, glucose is converted to glycogen and stored inside the liver and muscles. Complex carbs such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, should be the bulk of your carb intake because they are high in B vitamins, iron, and fiber. I won’t ever believe that “a carb is a carb” until someone shows me the research that says Oreos and Pop Tarts provide as much nutrition as fruits and vegetables.

There is a lot of hype and marketing currently involving fiber intake, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Fiber is an indigestible carb and there are two types; soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is dissolved by water and forms a gel like substance in the digestive tract, some examples include oats, legumes, oranges, apples, and carrots. Insoluble fiber does not get dissolved by water. It passes through the digestive system close to its original form. Fiber intake should be anywhere between 25-38 grams. If you’re planning on exercising for more than an hour then it is a good idea to include carbs in your meal 2-4 hours before your workout. Whether you are attempting fat loss or muscle gain, carbs should make up the highest percent of your calories. If you begin to drop your carb intake, then you will automatically drop your calorie intake. When you do this you’re creating a deficit, but you’re also diminishing glycogen, which decreases water weight; leading many people to think a low carb diet is optimal for fat loss. If you’re looking for a long term lifestyle change then your nutrition needs to be realistic and include all macronutrients. Carb intake should be anywhere between 40-65% of your calories, depending on your goals.

Finally, fats (lipids) the partner in crime to the evil carb right? Wrong. In reality lipids are just a group that includes fats, oils, phospholipids, and sterols that are carriers for fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K. They can be classified as saturated or unsaturated, monosaturated, and polysaturated… hello complicated. Saturated fats are no good because they raise bad cholesterol (LDL), where are unsaturated fats raise good cholesterol (HDL) and actually decrease risk of heart disease. One of the most common fatty acids we see today is known as trans-fatty acid. These have the same effect on the body as saturated fats. Fat helps aid in satiety, like protein. It helps slow the digestion of food and stabilizes blood sugar. Fat intake can be anywhere from 20-25% of the total calories consumed because it is more calorie dense than proteins and carbs.

Water… this is definitely my biggest nutritional downfall. Why is it easy to drink down 8 glasses of alcohol, but so dang hard to swallow 8 glasses of water? Drinking enough water will improve your endocrine gland function, liver function, metabolic function, help absorb more nutrients, and regulate body temperature. The average adult should be drinking between 2-3 liters of water daily… time to bust out the obnoxious gallon water jug!

Summer is here, maybe you reached your goals and feel yourself starting to slide back, maybe you have started toward your goal but aren’t quite there yet, maybe you haven’t even attempted your goal. Don’t wait until next week, next month, or next year, do something for yourself. Whether you take the information from this article and apply it or you contact me to help you, I want to see you happy and healthy and taking care of your body! Either way, the best time to start is now!

WTF is a Macro? Bioenergetics & Metabolism

First, lets review some key words so all of this science makes sense. Bioenergetics is the study of energy in the human body. Since we need energy to sustain life, exercise, and recover from it, this is kind of important! Metabolism refers to all of the chemical reactions that occur in the body to maintain itself. It is the process in which nutrients are acquired, transported, used, and disposed of by the body. Exercise metabolism is the relation of bioenergetics to the physiologic changes and demands placed on the body during exercise. Energy. The main energy sources are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins (AKA Macros). Phew, onto the Macros…

Fuel for Energy Metabolism

When we eat food, it has to be further broken down into substrates before it can be used for energy. Carbs, fats, and proteins are the main substrates used to transfer energy to the cells.

Macronutrient #1 Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are not just bread, bagels, or pasta. Carbohydrates are not the devil either. Carbohydrates are organic compounds of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, which include starches, cellulose, and sugars. Carbohydrates are a good source of fuel for the body during daily activities and exercising. Lack of carbs in the diet can cause fatigue, poor mental function, lack of endurance, and lack of stamina. Hang out with someone on a low carb diet and tell me how friendly they are after the third day. Once carbs are digested they produce glucose (a simple sugar). Glucose is then absorbed and transported in the blood where it circulates until it enters the cell, from there it is either used or stored as energy. Once it is stored it is known as glycogen. Glycogen is a string of glucose molecules that can be broken down and used for energy, especially during long intense exercises. Glycogen is stored in the liver and in the muscles.

Macronutrient #2 Fats. Eating fat will not make you fat… promise. Fat helps the body use vitamins and keeps skin healthy. They are also a great energy source. Triglycerides are the chemical or substrate form in which most fat exists in food as well as in the body. When excess calories are consumed they are converted in the body as triglycerides and transported to fat cells. Most people have a decent supply of fat, which can be broken down into triglycerides and used for energy (enter the Keto Diet hype).

Macronutrient #3 Protein. The beloved protein. Brotein. The bodybuilders BFF. Protein doesn’t actually supply much energy during exercise and isn’t a significant fuel for energy metabolism. Protein only becomes a significant source of fuel when the body is in starvation. If calories are restricted too much amino acids are used to form glucose, this is known as gluconeogenesis.

Energy During Exercise

Intensity and duration of exercise are inversely related. Immediate energy systems are for a very short-duration exercise, here,  the main fuel source is stored ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and phosphocreatine. When the duration increases (longer than 2 minutes) the main fuel source becomes glucose. When the duration increases even longer, the main fuel source becomes glucose AND fat. After 90 minutes of exercise glycogen stores are basically depleted. When glycogen is used up, the fuel source switches over to fat. Long story short, energy from ATP is limited, energy from carbs (glycogen) is limited, but energy from fat is almost unlimited. Your body needs energy for exercise. Your body needs the correct ratio of carbs, fats, and proteins to function optimally. If you’re overwhelmed by all this crazy science, you’re not alone. There are many personal trainers and dietitians that are able to provide you the correct Macro Ratios to match your goals.