Nutrition 101

ICON Gym promotes and uses nutrition plans that are designed to help you gain muscle while leaning out. These plans emphasize excellent food choices which will start the recompositioning (more muscle – less fat) process and build your metabolism.

Fat Loss NUTRITION 101

To have lasting success in any endeavor you have to take a disciplined approach. There is much more to a sound diet than mere calorie counting and “carb” watching. The big mistake made repeatedly is trying to eliminate the consequences of poor eating habits (weight gain) with a quick fix solution. This approach ultimately fails and leads to an even greater weight problem that becomes more difficult to correct.

I cannot stress enough the role a sound diet based on solid nutrition will play in you reaching your fitness goals. We are constantly getting mixed messages regarding diet.  Some “experts” encourage us to follow unbalanced eating plans promising shortcuts to health and beauty. The HGB Diet (hormone supported diet plan), Body Transformation and prepackaged meal plans along with other failed and dated techniques are still making news and claiming unbelievable results. My goal is for you to make informed decisions about your diet and to see why these methods lead to ultimate failure, so let’s look at the facts.

 

The Principals of Nutrition

The ultimate longterm solution to being healthy and lean is having a healthy metabolism. When nutrient intake does not regularly meet the nutrient demands dictated by cell activities and body maintenance, stores of nutrients soon become depleted. Body stores may be sufficient to compensate for an inadequate diet for a brief period of time, in the long run serious consequences can be the result.

Once nutrient stores are depleted, a continuing nutrition debt drains body tissues. The body will try and compensate but is only able to a point. When tissue levels or resources fall far enough the body will go into conservation mode and the metabolic processes eventually slow down or even stop. Consider the effects of osteoporosis, calcium is not sufficient in the diet and the body is forced to raid its own resources of calcium to maintain normal function. The result is loss of bone mass and integrity.

Malnutrition comes in many forms and is not calorie specific, meaning that it is possible to consume plenty of calories and still have a nutritional deficit.

Our bodies are masters at adapting and dealing with stress. We have built with in us all kinds of safety mechanisms intended to protect us and keep us alive. Poor nutrition can illicit a host of protective measures that most of us would rather avoid.Think about the consequences of a suppressed metabolism or a decline in hormone production, red blood cell production and a multitude of other reactions that are a result of a lack of resources/nutrients.

Over the years I have seen many clients with a number of problems that were corrected by making changes to their diet and training. Just by giving the body what it needs it has an amazing propensity for healing and correcting it’s self. Be it remedial exercise or addressing diet problems and nutrient deficiencies, our bodies given the right resources and stimulus can heal and right much of the wrongs that are attributed to sickness and “old age.”

The Fundamentals

Food, water and oxygen are the life sustaining substances we need.  Food provides you with both the energy and materials needed to build and maintain all your body cells.  It is important to distinguish between food and nutrients.  Food is the source of nutrients, nutrients are the nourishing substance in food that are essential for growth and development and the maintenance of body function throughout life.

Classes of Nutrients:

The nutrients in food can be organized into six classes. This outline will cover the energy-yielding nutrients, which, excluding water, constitute the major portion of most foods.

Water:

Water is necessary in every metabolic process. If you are dehydrated you will not burn fat and can’t build muscle. Drink at least 64 ounces per day!

One clue that you are properly hydrated is clear urine.

Carbohydrates:

Carbohydrate selection can be a tricky topic. Various carbohydrates elicit a different metabolic process in the body. The rate at which the digestive system can process carbohydrates is known as the glycemic index.

The most beneficial carbohydrates tend to have a rate low on this scale while the “Bad Carbs” rate high. Here is a brief explanation: depending on the type and amount of carbohydrates consumed, along with other factors, insulin is released into the bloodstream. Secreted by the pancreas, insulin is a hormone that dictates energy storage. Foods that elicit a low insulin response rate low on the glycemic scale and thus have more desirable consequences. These calories tend to be stored in skeletal muscle and the liver. On the opposite side, high glycemic foods rate high on the glycemic scale and can result in energy storage as body fat. Understanding the three basic classes of carbohydrates will help identify the beneficial carbohydrates from the others.

Simple Carbohydrates/Refined Sugars (Bad Carbs):
This form of carbohydrate is basically sugar and is released into the bloodstream quickly (high glycemic index) because the digestive system doesn’t have to work very hard to break it down.  The result is a rapid insulin response which leads to “lipogeneisis,” the conversion of sugars into triglycerides to be stored as fat. Processed/white foods or basically anything man made generally falls into this group, breakfast cereals, pastas, white bread, white rice and the like. These types of foods are generally on the isles of the grocery store while the “good” varieties tend to be found on the surrounding isles. This form of carbohydrate is generally unhealthy and should be avoided.

Complex Carbohydrates/Starchy Carbohydrates:
Complex carbohydrates are dense and typically rate low on the glycemic index. Complex carbohydrates, also known as starchy carbohydrates, largely yield more calories; however, because of their structure they are digested slowly and have a low impact on insulin levels and are nutrient dense. Some good sources are sweet potatoes, brown rice and oatmeal.

Lean fibrous carbohydrates:
Because we don’t have the enzymes to break these foods down completely (fiber portion) the yield of calories is less. However, these carb sources are nutrient dense and their fiber content is essential for a healthy digestive tract.  They also rate low on the glycemic index scale because the fiber content slows the rate of release of sugar into the blood stream.  The result is a healthy digestive tract and a sustained release of sugar into the blood stream over an extended period of time.  Some good sources would be broccoli, asparagus and cauliflower.

Protein:
Proteins, which name means “to come first,”  are the building blocks of the body.  They contribute to key body functions, including blood clotting, fluid balance, production of hormones and enzymes, vision, and cell repair. Protein deficiencies can lead to major metabolic changes. One is a decrease in immune function. Poor protein intake can increase the risk of infections and disease.  Amino acids are the building block for proteins. The classification of amino acids falls into two basic groups, essential and nonessential. In effect the essentials must be included in the diet because are bodies cannot produce them. Thus there are two basic classes of protein sources complete and incomplete proteins.  Complete protein sources are derived from animal sources such as meats and dairy products while the plant variety proteins do not have all the essentials that are needed in our diet. Some examples of plant sources would be beans, legumes and nuts.

Lipids/Fats
Fats are by far the most efficient energy storage form. They have various functions in the body including providing energy for cells, controlling what goes in and out of cells, determining the integrity of nervous tissue and helping to form hormones.

There are many different types of fats and they can be conveniently divided into four main categories: saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and trans fatty acids. The term saturation simply refers to the number of hydrogens a fatty acid chain is holding. Thus, in the case of saturated fatty acids, every available carbon bond is holding onto a hydrogen. Interestingly enough, saturated fatty acids yield more energy (higher in calories) than unsaturated fatty acids.

Monounsaturated fatty acids or MUFA (for those who love acronyms). MUFA’s have one point where the hydrogens are missing and so they have one point of unsaturation. Many studies have shown that switching from a diet high in saturated fatty acids to monounsaturated fatty acids can help reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) and maintain HDL (good cholesterol). Furthermore, studies show that patients with Type II Diabetes who switch from polyunsaturated fatty acids to monounsaturated fatty acids can help reduce their insulin resistance and restore their endothelium-dependent vasodilation (which decreases their risk for atherosclerosis).

Good vegetable sources of MUFA’s include the famous olive oil.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids or PUFA. PUFA’s have two or more points of unsaturation. They include the omega-6 family (linoleic acid) and the omega-3 family (alpha-linoleic acid) of fatty acids.

The main sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fish oils, vegetable leaves, and a modest amount in soybean oil. Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to be required for the brain’s cerebral cortex development and retinal development for vision. Some of their beneficial effects include the prevention of ventricular fibrillation (heart rhythm irregularity) and a DECREASED platelet response to aggregation (so less risk for clots).

Permissible Nutritional Food List

Protein

Beef
Beef tenderloin, Filet Mignon, Sirloin Steak, Flank Steak, Round Steak, Top Round, Roast Beef, Ground Round, Ground Sirloin. Ground Beef, (90% Fat Free or leaner.)

Poultry
Chicken breast (no skin) canned Chicken Breast (Swanson’s), Turkey Breast, Turkey
Breast Cutlets. Ground Turkey Breast (95% Fat Free or Leaner), Canned Turkey Breast, Deli
Turkey Breast.

Fish
Just about all kinds except catfish and shell fish, the best are: Tuna (canned in water or fresh), Cod, Halibut, Orange Roughy, Salmon (canned in water or fresh, but limit to twice weekly), Shrimp and Whitefish.

Other Meats
Bison, Ostrich, and Deer.

Complex Starchy Carbohydrates
The very best choices are: Oatmeal, Cream of Rice, Puffed Rice, Rice Cakes, Cooked Rice (brown or white), Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Beans (white, pinto, kidney or black), Lima Beans, Corn and Peas.
(Once in awhile as a treat you may have pasta, corn tortillas or a bagel as a sub – mostly stick to the above)

Fibrous Vegetables
Asparagus, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Cucumbers, Green Beans, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Spinach, Tomato, Water Chestnuts, Zucchini.

Fruit
Any type of berries (they are fibrous), Apple, Cantaloupe, Cherries, Grapefruit, Kiwi, Nectarine, Orange, Peach.

“Healthy” Fats and Oil
Flax seed oil, safflower oil, walnut oil, olive oil, sesame oil, almonds and walnuts

Free Foods
Vinegar                                Cinnamon
Lemon juice                         Decaffeinated coffee
Lime juice                                Sparkling water
Mustard                               Water
Mushrooms                              Herbal tea
Garlic                                        Iced tea
Onions                                      Dry seasonings (Herbal, etc.)
Scallions                                   Stevia
Cucumber                                 Pepper
Lettuce                                  Sugar-free Jell-O
Citrus peels
Chili peppers

Dairy

Skim milk, low fat yogurt, fat free/ low fat cottage cheese.
Low fat or fat free cheeses such as; mozzarella, feta, parmesan ect.

Chad Marr
NSCA-CPT, Owner- ICON Gym

Dysfunctional Fitness

P-90X, Muscle confusion, CrossFit and Bootcamps are buzz words and training programs that are making a lot of waves right now. People are beginning to seek alternatives to the common health club routine largely because they have failed. Begin with the end in mind.

Stephen Covey had it right, when the author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” teaches us that we are to begin with the goal and the intent of our efforts. Training is no different. Without knowing where you are and where you want to go, it is impossible to ever arrive and be successful!

First things first, know your limitations. Before tackling countless reps of squats, lunges, push-ups and pounding out massive loads on your favorite machine you may want to know the answer. Are you trying to build fitness on top of disfunction? Our bodies are adaptive by nature and our habits weather they are good or bad will dictate what we become. Consider for example that working all day in a seated position results in short hip flexors, short pecs, and short biceps. This is due to the posture adopted while seated. Now take into consideration the affects on your glutes and your back being in a lengthened state for extensive periods of time. (This is also why Americans suffer from so much neck and back pain.)

The comprises created from a seated posture create weakness in the posterior chain which is the foundation for our bodies (the spine and the hips). Every movement we do is affected or governed by the spine and the hips. If your weak here your weak everywhere. The primary objective of your training program should be to address weakness and imbalance such as those created by hours of being in a seated position in front of a computer.

Unfortunately many training programs fail to address these issues up front and end up magnifying the problem.

Reeducate your body to move from disfunction to proper function. This is a really big deal and far too common of a mistake. I have been training well over 20 years and cant even begin to remember the number of people I have seen, athlete or not, that have violated this principal and in some cases paid the price of serious injury.

This is why my clients begin with an evaluation of several fundamental movement patterns, ranking functional limitations. Uneven strength around joints is inherent with anyone beginning a training program (and athletes too). These conditioning issues not addressed can promote long term complications such as chronic low back pain or knee and shoulder damage.

Begin with good training principals that promote joint integrity by developing core and hip strength and by learning the proper techniques for foundational exercises. You will get results more effectively and they will be long lasting.

You wouldn’t put new tires on a car without getting a proper alignment. Why would you begin working out without getting the body in alignment through proper training?

Unfortunately too many individuals have bought into the before & after photos as the standard for training. While aesthetics are important they should not be the sole measure of achievement. Don’t try to build fitness on top of disfunction. You may loose those extra inches around your waist due to the increased caloric demand and energy output of your new training routine. Will it be worth it in the long run? Training and fitness is to be a lifelong pursuit.

EPOC/ Excess Post-Oxygen Consumption

EPOC/ Excess Post-Oxygen Consumption

Ready to meet your new best friend for maximizing training and recovery? EPOC, or excess post-oxygen consumption, is not just some cryptic acronym. It’s the physiological response your body produces after a high-resistance or intense interval training session. Basically EPOC refers to any extra oxygen consumption after exercise and is a key tool to getting…

Poliquin/ Anerobic vs Aerobic Training

Lose belly fat fast and improve your health by doing strength training and high-intensity intervals. Compelling research shows that the BEST way to get rid of the belly fat is to train with hard but short bursts of exercise, a style that taps into the anaerobic energy system more than the aerobic.

There is overwhelming evidence that belly fat loss is best achieved when exercise is with a high, but varied intensity, and a relatively large volume. However, this does not mean you have to spend hours and hours a day killing yourself in the gym. Less than an hour a few days a week can produce dramatic fat loss if you do it right.

This article will tell you why you burn more fat when you favor anaerobic-style training and give you eight reasons to favor this style of training by lifting weights and doing sprints rather than spending hours on aerobic exercise.

#1: Burn More Belly Fat with Sprint Intervals
A large number of convincing studies show that high-intensity interval training is the best conditioning strategy for losing belly fat. In contrast, one research group that has conducted a number of experiments comparing aerobic and anaerobic training for belly fat loss write, “Disappointingly, aerobic exercise protocols have led to negligible fat loss.”

The reason anaerobic interval training works so much better is that it requires the body to adapt metabolically—your body is forced to burn fat to sustain the level of intensity being asked of it. It also elevates energy use for more than 24 hours post-workout, which has a dramatic effect on belly fat loss.

For example, a 2008 showed that a 6-week program increased the amount of fat burned during exercise by 12 percent and decreased the oxidation of carbohydrates—obviously, a favorable result for losing fat.  More impressive, a 2007 study showed that in as little as 2 weeks, active women who performed interval training experienced a 36 percent increase in the use of fat for fuel during exercise.

Interval training is so effective for fat loss because it taps into different energy pathways than aerobic exercise. Simply, aerobic exercise tends to burn carbohydrates firstand activate pathways that are degrading to muscle, whereas high-intensity exercise such as weight lifting and sprinting will burn a greater percentage of fat, enhance the body’s production of enzymes involved in fat breakdown, and activate pathways that lead to muscle development.

The other reason anaerobic intervals are superior for belly fat loss is that they increase excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) a huge amount. A 2006 review showed that protocols that are more anaerobic in nature produce higher EPOC values than steady-state aerobic training because the trained muscle cells must rest restore physiological factors in the cells, which translates to a lot of energy expenditure.

#2: Lose Belly Fat With Sprint Intervals: The Proof
The following are examples of the superiority of anaerobic interval training for belly fat loss from the research:
•    A 12-week high-intensity interval training program produced a 17 percent decrease in belly fat in overweight young men. Subjects lost 1.5 kg of belly fat and 2 kg of total fat, while building 1 kg of muscle. Fat burning was increased by 13 percent due to the 3-day a week program of 20-minutes of cycling in which the subjects sprinted for 8 seconds and then did 12 seconds of recovery, repeating these intervals for a total of 60 sprints.
•    The same 20-minute cycling interval program produced 2.5 kg of fat loss in young women in 15 weeks, and the majority of the fat loss come from the legs and abdominal area. The sprint intervals were compared to a steady-state aerobic program that produced no fat loss.
•    A 16-week study had trained athletes perform either a sprint interval protocol or steady-state running four days a week. The sprint interval protocol varied each day, but an example of one of the workouts used was 10 intervals of 30-sec sprints with 90 seconds rest. The sprint interval group lost 16 percent or 1 kg of visceral fat as well as 2 kg of total fat, compared to the endurance group that lost no belly fat, but did lose 1.4 kg of lean mass. The belly fat loss appears to be small, but be aware that subjects were lean, trained athletes to begin with and had less belly fat to lose than overweight subjects.
•    An 8-week interval program using both high- and moderate-intensity intervals decreased belly fat by 44 percent in middle-aged men with type 2 diabetes. Subjects increased quad muscle size by 24 percent and improved insulin sensitivity by 58 percent—a dramatic improvement that highlights the other mechanisms involved in belly fat loss (muscle building, insulin health & blood sugar management).

#3: Sprints Take Less Time than Aerobic Exercise
Not only do sprints help you lose MORE belly fat, they help you lose it FASTER and with LESS training time. Repeatedly, studies show that more fat loss is achieved in high-intensity programs that use 20 to 25 minutes of training time than those that use 45 or 50 minutes of aerobic training time.

Scientists write that anaerobic intervals are overwhelmingly preferable to aerobics for producing belly fat loss, and that the estimated optimal dose of aerobic exercise necessary to lose belly fat appears to be 3,780 calories expended per week. This is an enormous volume of exercise that would require 1 hour of moderate intensity aerobic cycling 7 days a week to burn 550 calories a day so that you could lose even a pound a week!

In less than half the time you can get better results with anaerobic training. A 1994 study is indicative of this: Participants did either 20 weeks of aerobic training or 15 weeks of intervals (15 sprints for 30 seconds each) and lost nine times more body fat and 12 percent more visceral belly fat than the aerobic group.

What is so interesting about this study is that the energy cost of the aerobic program over the whole study period was 28,661 calories, whereas for intervals it was less than half, at 13,614 calories. In less time, the interval group lost much more weight—nine times more weight. How do researchers explain it?

Aside from greater fat oxidation and higher EPOC, hormone response plays a major role…

#4: Sprints Improve Hormone Response for More Belly Fat Loss
Sprint intervals and anaerobic exercise in general improve your entire endocrine system. Both training modes enhance the cells’ sensitivity to insulin, making anaerobic training a successful treatment for diabetes.

Perhaps most important, anaerobic exercise also elevates growth hormone (GH) —a powerful fat burning hormone that helps restore tissue and build muscle—much more than aerobic training. GH is released by the body in greater quantities in response to physical stress above the lactate threshold, which is the reason heavy, sprints are so effective.

Another hormone called adiponectin that is released from fat tissue during exercise also helps burn fat. Emerging scientific evidence shows that any time you perform forceful muscle contractions, adiponectin is released, and then your body produces a substance called PGC1 that is like a “master switch” that enhances muscle and metabolic functions, thereby burning belly fat. Naturally, anaerobic training is most effective for increasing adiponectin and PGC1 to burn fat since sprints and especially weight lifting require extremely forceful muscle contractions.

#5: Strength Train to Lose Belly Fat
To get a lean, trim your midsection and lose belly fat, you need to strength train with a high volume, using large muscle groups, and short rest periods. This metabolically intense type of training is fantastic for increasing GH and aiding belly fat loss. This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours and hours a day killing yourself in the gym!

You will get results from a resistance training program that includes the following components:
•    Multi-joint lifts such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, split squats, step-ups, chin-ups, and chest presses in every training session. Add isolation exercises only if you have extra time.
•    Train with a higher volume—work up to more than 4 sets per exercise. Shoot for 24 to 32 total sets per training session.
•    Train with a higher intensity—include some training in the 70 to 85 percent of the 1RM range.
•    Include short rest periods (30 to 60 seconds) and always train a “finisher” that requires near maximal effort for more GH response (25 reps of squats or 2 minutes of leg presses, for example).
•    Count tempo for every lift so that you apply a specific amount of tension to the muscles. In general, opt for longer (4 second) eccentric tempos and short or explosive concentric tempos.
•    Shoot for 3 to 4 hours of total training time per week, which includes resistance training and a few short sprint sessions.

#6: Anaerobic Training Produces Less Cortisol For More Belly Fat Loss
Cortisol is the stress hormone that is elevated when you are under both physical and psychological stress. Research shows cortisol is chronically higher in endurance athletes—one study found that aerobic athletes had significantly higher evidence of cumulative cortisol secretion in their hair than controls.

In addition, cortisol is generally elevated more following aerobic training than anaerobic training. Part of this has to do with the fact that strength training and intervals do elevate cortisol, but they also elevate anabolic hormones such as GH and testosterone that counter the negative effects of cortisol.

If GH and testosterone are not elevated, cortisol overwhelms tissue, having a catabolic effect that leads to gradual muscle loss and fat gain. By doing aerobic training without strength training, you will lose muscle, lower your metabolic, rate, and gain fat.  Worst of all, high cortisol causeschronic inflammation, which lead to belly fat gain over time—all-around bad news!

#7: Anaerobic Training Is More Fun & Less Boring than Aerobic Exercise
Intervals and strength training take less time and provide much more variety than aerobic training. Not only are you doing many different exercises in a strength training session, but you are pushing yourself to reach new personal bests. When you see how it can transform a fat belly into a lean, cut midsection, you will be that much more motivated to continue!

In addition, although sprint interval training can be mentally challenging, it only requires a short workout and many trainees find intervals less boring than endurance exercise. Plus, most people enjoy feeling powerful and fast from going all out. Get a training partner to help push you through the hard parts and know that by working hard but smart, you will reach your fat loss goal.

#8: Mix It Up with Modified Strongman, Varied Strength Protocols & Sprints
A few more anaerobic training suggestions include the following:
•    Try modified strongman training: Do sled training, tire flips, and a heavy farmer’s walk to lose belly fat fast.
•    Mix up strength training protocols with circuit training and supersets that use very short rest periods. For example, do supersets with 10 seconds rest when switching from the agonist to the antagonist exercise and 60 seconds between sets. Or, do a “death circuit” of heavy, high volume deadlifts followed by split squats followed by lighter high volume squats with 10 seconds rest between exercises.
•    Try a sprint training workout in which you do 20 second all-out sprints with 10 seconds rest in 4 sets of 4 intervals. Rest 3 to 4 minutes between sets.
•    Try hill or stair running in which you sprint up as fast as possible and jog down—repeat immediately. Do 8 to 16 reps.
•    Try a sprint-endurance workout with six to eight 200-meter sprints (about 30 seconds each) with a 3 to 4 minute recovery.