Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween: It Begins

Dude, eat the pumpkin don't wear it, you definitely could use the calories

What begins? Today marks the beginning of crappy eating that will carry through to the holiday season. Right as you are finishing up that last piece of Halloween candy there will be plenty of leftovers from turkey day to fill your tummy. Those leftovers will carry you for a few weeks until the holidays bring cookies and treats a plenty. Overeating for 2 straight months with the only hope in sight being a new years resolution. We all know how those turn out.

Sure go ahead and have a couple pieces of candy today, eat your turkey and pie on thanksgiving and enjoy your Christmas Cookies (or whatever holiday cookies you might be celebrating with). But what if you stuck to a well regimented plan outside of those "free" days. Why wait until new years when you can start building the healthy body you want today. I'd suggest getting on a plan and sticking to it. Start Today.

Any plan will work. You should all know by now I love Precision Nutrition, but seriously any plan will work. A study showed that diet type was of very little importance. The most important thing was that adherence to the diet.

Happy Halloween! I'm starting today, are you coming along with me?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Maximum Strength: Phase 3 Reloaded

For those of you wondering why I haven't posted my wrap up on phase 3 of Eric Cressey's Maximum Strength, here is the scoop.

About 4 weeks ago I managed to injure my forearm while bowling. I had to take it easy on my arm for a few weeks, so I decided to change up my programming entirely while giving myself the time to heal. Anyway my arm is about 80% at this point and I decided to restart phase 3 early last week. Hopefully I'll be able to wrap up with some more personal bests.

I've learned a lot as a result of this small injury and I'll try and share some of that with you in the coming weeks. Just know that I did not use my arm as an excuse to just slack off for a month. I got myself to the gym and did what I could to maintain my strength. Consistency trumps everything else. Being a slacker is never an option.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

High Doses of Vitamin D

It's the time of year when the days are shorter and the sunlight becomes sparse. It's also the time of year when people become depressed and their vitamin D stores begin to deplete, coincidence?

A lack of vitamin D can be remidied by getting more sunlight, lying in a UV tanning bed or supplementing with some vitamin D. The latter of which is the easiest for some, especially if you work indoors all day.

Interestingly enough a new study has surfaced in which you can catch up on your vitamin D by taking it in one big monthly dose.

Similar results were had by those following these protocols:
1,500 International Units once daily
10,500 IU once weekly
45,000 IU every 28 days.

It doesn't matter how you get it, just make sure you get it!

So basically for those that can't remember to take pills all that often, just have a system of taking it all in on the first of the month. How convenient! If you'd like to read further about the study you can find it here.

Lacking omega-3's and vitamin d? a pure source of cod liver oil kills two birds with one stone. Just don't take that all in a single monthly dose!

The Hungry Greek Scramble (or Omelet)

A variant of the Hungry Greek - See Below

Lets face it, when you are trying to pack in the protein at breakfast there is a very short list of "traditional" breakfast foods that pack the protein punch. At the top of that list is eggs. Most people find eggs to be boring, but not this time, behold...

The Hungry Greek Scramble


5 Whole Omega-3 Eggs

3 Cups of Fresh Baby Spinach Leaves

1 Medium Tomato
1/4 Cup Sliced Black Olives
1 oz. of Crumbled Feta Cheese
Olive Oil Spray Salt & Pepper (to taste)


Lightly coat the bottom of a non-stick fry pan with the Olive Oil Spray and place over medium heat. Add the Spinach, Tomato and Olives and cook until the Spinach has shrunk. While waiting for the Spinach to shrink, beat the eggs in a bowl. When the Spinach has shrunk add the beaten eggs and stir the mixture around with a spatula, trying not to clump up the Spinach too much. Stir the mixture around every minute or so and when the eggs are close to dry add in the Feta Cheese. Move the scramble around one last time and transfer to a plate when the eggs have reached the desired firmness. Add Salt and Pepper as desired. Serves 2 (or 1
Hungry Greek).


Mixing things up from time to time keeps the taste buds guessing, and keeps boredom at bay. So feel free to mix things up a bit with the options below or get creative with some of your own options. With eggs, the possibilities are endless.

Option 1
. For those that want to up the protein and lower the fat(and calories) feel free to sub in 4 egg whites for 4 whole eggs (that leaves you with 1 whole egg and 4 whites for the mathematically challenged).

Option 2
. Coconut Oil can be substituted for olive oil for those worried about cooking olive oil at higher temperatures. It adds a refreshing flavor that some might enjoy. If you don't like coconut this option is not for you.

Option 3
. I often find that I don't have black olives all the time so I sometimes substitute them for something I do have on hand like mushrooms. I prefer the shiitake variety, but any shroom will do.

Option 4. Make it into an omelet rather than a scramble.

Option 5
. Add some diced or mashed avocado to the side. I like to use a refrigerated avocado because it shortens the wait time to eat your eggs because it cools hot eggs to a tolerable temperature. Try it, the tongue will thank you.

If you like this recipe and want more protein packed fat burning recipes, be sure to pick up a copy of gourmet nutrition, my favorite cookbook. It has meals you never thought you could eat while achieving the body you've always wanted. To get your copy click here

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Food Preparation 101: The Grocery Shopping List

The majority of people that are successful have something in common, they plan ahead. We've all heard the old adage "failure to plan is planning to fail." Making the commitment to plan your food preparation will inevitably lead to better health and a better physique. The first step in planning your food preparation is gathering the food. This quest involves making a simple list, sticking to the list and getting your butt to the store at least once per week.

According to America's Cheapest Family by Steve and Annette Economides “Shoppers making a ‘quick trip’ to the store to pick up a few specific items usually purchase 54 percent more than they planned.” So grab a piece of paper and pen and lets try and get this list right.

Who eats flowers?

Create the list. Your list should be fairly simple. It should mostly be comprised of lean proteins, vegetables/fruits, good fat sources and some nutritious carbohydrate sources. An example might look like this:

You can download the list here.

Stick to the list. Impulse buying accounts for more than 50% of grocery store purchases which will not only lighten the wallet, but fatten the belly. If you spent the time creating the list, you owe it to yourself to follow it.

Now that you have all this food what do you do with it all? Next week we'll address some food preparation strategies to help you plan your meals in advance.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Truth about Flaxseed

Flaxseed has recently gotten a lot of buzz and has made it on to a lot of power food lists. This hasn't come without controversy as recently I've found many people bad mouthing the flax. So come with me on a journey to figure out what could be wrong with this little seed.

How are these little guys causing so much controversy?

Let's look at the macro nutrient breakdown:
22% Carbs
66% Fats
12% Protein

So we have a plant based source of protein, some fats, which about half of is omega 3 fatty acids, and carbs coming almost entirely from fiber. It also packs a hefty dose of zinc and magnesium which most of the athletic population is deficient in.

To me that's pretty darn good and addresses the needs of a lot of people. Most people eat too little protein and not that flax is going to make or break you in that department, but every little bit helps. A ton of fiber which makes you feel full, is linked to weight loss, and something that the average person doesn't get enough of. A plant based source of omega-3 fatty acids, what could be better?

All this great stuff, so where is the controversy.

Well "they" have been saying that flax is useless because the body can't convert omega-3's effectively into EPA/DHA. The turnover is probably a single digit percentage. So is this cause to write off the flaxseed as useless? Heck no! Flaxseed provides a whole host of benefits and just because it's not a replacement for a fish oil (which you better be taking to get your EPA/DHA directly), doesn't mean it's not worthy of a spot in your daily feed. I'd say based on this information flax oil (the stuff Barry Bonds tried to make us believe was the source of his hugeness) shouldn't make the priority supplement list, but certainly keep the seed on the menu. The poor little guy maybe got a little too much hype but this food still packs a healthy punch.

Just make sure you grind your flaxseed as the whole seed won't really allow for good absorption of the nutrients.
Grind your flax like Kim grinds her man

After you are done grinding, sprinkle a couple tablespoons in a bowl of oatmeal, or in a protein shake because this little guy deserves to be on those power food lists and is here to stay. Make sure you refrigerate any left over ground flax or just grind what you are going to use because it goes rancid pretty fast in the open air. Follow those simple rules and you'll reap all the benefits the flaxseed has to offer.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Exercise Doesn't Work...

I thought I'd never say it, but sadly it just may be true.

A product of a good exercise plan?

Recent research has shown that exercise - alone - doesn't have much of an impact on body composition. Even if you're doing up to 5 hours a week. However, that doesn't mean all hope is lost. When you combine exercise and the right nutritional intervention, the body fat seems to fly off. To learn more, click here.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Burger King Removes Trans Fats Nationwide

Burger King announced it would remove trans fats from its cooking oil, and all baked goods for that matter. Well not really, they said they would make all their foods contain 0g of trans fat so technically they can have up to .5g of trans fat per serving and still label them as 0g of trans fat.

I honestly thought if we could get rid of trans fats the world would be a better place, but instead we are continuing to mislead people with this whole 0g of trans fat nonsense. Make a serving of fries only a handful and then suddenly an average size of fries has a couple grams of trans fat. Most would say it's no big deal, but trans fats lead to a whole host of problems. Maybe you won't have any problems this year or next year, but eventually those bits of trans fat grams will add up and catch up with you.

I hope nobody sees this 0g of trans fat message and interprets it that Burger King is now a viable health food option, because their food overall is still a poor choice. I see rationalizations like this all the time. You get told you can have a potato and suddenly you are eating french fries. Get told burger king has no trans fat and suddenly a whopper value meal is on your fitday tracker.

You can see the full BK story here.

Hey King, that better be trans fat free tanning oil!

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Truth about Supplement Advertisements

This interview goes on further to describe how before and after pictures are often taken in the same day. Photoshop goes a long way these days. In short, do your homework before you go spend your dollars on something that is potentially useless. With supplements I like to stick to the tried and true products that have some scientific studies backing them and I take them knowing they are not to provide replacements for healthy foods but to supplement my diet. It gives me that extra few percent and that is all. Your diet and exercise program far outweigh what any supplement will give you.

I strongly urge you to pick up a copy of the Bigger, Stronger, Faster DVD if you haven't already.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

When 5 Fruit and Vegetable Servings aren't Enough

For optimum health experts are saying 10-12 servings of fruits/veggies is a minimum. So is it possible to get all these fruits and vegetables every single day?

The average person doesn't even meet the 5 fruit/vegetable serving recommendation and to be honest that isn't all that difficult. It's fairly easy to have 5 servings covered before you even eat lunch with the right strategies in place. Front loading vegetables early in the day can gaurentee they'll be consumed. Think of the person that exercises first thing in the morning. Many argue this isn't the best time to exercise, but who cares. If that is a time you can dedicate day in day out, why not? This works similarly with planning your meals.

So how exactly can this principle be applied and what else can one do to sneak in all those fruits and vegetables.

  • Eat vegetables at breakfast. Start the morning off with some spinach and tomato mixed in some eggs (or other veggies of your choice). Have a piece of fibrous fruit on the side like an apple and you are well on your way to kick starting your day. If you like avocado it makes a great side for this meal. Heck this meal alone will trump the average dieters vegetable intake for the day.
Wheaties can't compare
  • Add berries to shakes. Bridge the gap between your meals with a berry smoothie protein shake. Couple that shake with some greens powder and three easy servings can be had right there.
  • Use unconventional eating methods. Call it lazy or call it efficient. Either way don't feel bound by society's constraints on the way foods SHOULD be eaten. There are plenty of vegetables that aside from a quick rinse need no food prep and you can just shove them directly into your mouth. A few quick and easy veggies are carrots, mini cucumbers, snap peas and even bell peppers. Try eating a bell pepper much like you would an apple. The tri colored ones are sure to satisfy with their subtle sweetness. You can eat a cucumber much like a banana (except it's even more convenient, no messy peel!). Eating spinach directly out of the bag is for the dangerously hardcore.
Go ahead, take a bite
  • Steam Frozen Veggies. Frozen veggies can be just as nutritious as fresh because they are typically packaged immediately and flash frozen. They can be had fairly cheaply and you can feel free to stock up when there is a sale as they keep for a long time.
  • Use Vegetable based condiments. Things like salsa and pesto pack a good punch for your meals and also pack in some veggie servings. Just be careful to check the labels for added sugars and other additives. You'll find most grocers sell fresh salsa and this not only tastes better, it typically has a better ingredient list. Feel free to make your own salsa or pesto this way you can control what goes into it. NOTE: This is not a good way to rationalize going hog wild with things like ketchup because it has a bit of tomato in it.
Using these strategies will hopefully get you thinking about how you can add vegetables and fruits to your own meals. What strategies do you use? Please feel free to post a comment and share.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Manufacturing a Healthy Workforce

A healthy workforce can have a direct impact on production, especially in a dynamic manufacturing environment. Between people calling in sick and even those coming to work when their health is questionable, can have negative impacts in the workplace.

Coming to work sick can not only affect your performance, but also can affect others around you if you are contagious. Small businesses in Michigan have realized this and have taken steps to preventing illness by offering wellness programs. To add incentive to this cause they offer lower health insurance premiums to those that partake in these programs.

The same approach taken to continuous improvement in manufacturing are being applied to health and wellness programs. The MEASURE & IMPROVE phases of the DMAIC model of Six Sigma methodology are being applied in this case.

The same tools to produce a better product are being used to produce a healthier workforce

I still think few companies realize how the health of their employees affect their success. The recent realization of this affect is a direct result of rising healthcare costs.

Again these are all steps in the right direction and I hope other businesses follow suit in this endeavor towards helping their employees live healthy lives.

The article that highlights the thoughts above can be found here. An example of 5S (everything restored to it's place) being utilized in a gym environment is below:

Someone better be using that missing lat pulldown bar as we speak

Friday, October 3, 2008

You ate what for lunch?

Warning this is yet another rant...

Yesterday at work the main dish at the grill in our cafe was the following:

Crispy Fried Chicken Breast
White Flour Tortilla
Served with a side of fries and a fountain drink. And in Utah with fries comes the inevitable fry sauce.

I honestly can't think of a more unhealthy lunch yet people ordered it again and again behind me after I ordered a couple pieces of chicken breast to go with my salad. No vegetables, not an ounce of fiber, some bad fats coupled with fries and a soft drink.

Alright maybe deep fried Oreos are worse, but that's like asking which boy band is better?

Why is it that we(adults) push organizations like the YMCA to clean up their act, force our childrens' schools to ban things like soft drinks and birthday cakes, yet we somehow rationalize that these things are okay for adults because we know moderation. The corporate office and workplace somehow gets a free pass on selling us processed crap. Our vending machines are loaded with it, refreshments at meetings are out of control and even the cafeteria itself is often a lost cause in many workplaces. Well the fact is we obviously don't understand moderation and not only is it affecting us, it's affecting the youth as well and it's shameful. We aren't setting a good example (understatement of the century).

For the first time in history some scientists are predicting our children will have a shorter life expectancy than the generation that came before it. I suggest reading that previous sentence again and letting it sink in. It's time to wake up, hopefully it's not too late.

And since it's friday I should end on a more fun note...