Archive for June 5, 2012

What the heck is a snack anyways? How many calories is it outside today?.

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What the heck is a snack anyways?  How many calories is it outside today?

    I must begin by referencing a pet peeve of mine…after all, it is the reason I’m writing this article!  I highly dislike the term “snack!”… I mean really, define a snack.  I’ll define a meal in a moment…I have yet to hear a legitimate definition of a snack!  Here’s my take on what a snack is… A comfortable excuse to be lazy and/or a chance to be very liberal in deciding one’s food choices.  While I’m on this soap box of pet peeves I have with fitness terminology, here’s another term that really bothers me, “calorie!”  Here’s my problem with the word calories, it’s totally misused!… A calorie is simply a unit of measurement…heat to be specific.  So basically, lets pretend the chicken and rice you’re going to consume as your next meal renders 450 calories, that’s really saying the body will produce 450 units of heat in order to metabolize that meal of chicken and rice.  One other thing about a calorie, in the context 99.9% of us use the word…in no way shape or form is “a calorie a calorie!”   A more accurate way of thinking of it could be in terms of the bodies physiological response to a calorie from carbohydrates, a calorie from protein, from fats…it then becomes quite obvious that a calorie is certainly not a calorie (in the common context it’s use in today) by any stretch.  By true definition, yes, a calorie is a calorie, it’s a measurement for heat as I previously mentioned.  However, the age old question, or statement rather…”a calorie is a calorie”
is a mute topic in my opinion!  Let’s move on…    
    Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, allow me to define a meal; A meal is a combination of macro and micronutrients in ratios or amounts based on the individual consuming that meals goal or goals.  Yes, it’s a rather vague and general definition of the word…allow me to take it a step further and get into some specifics based on performance vs cosmetic nutrition principles, which are discussed in detail in a previous article (I encourage everyone to read it).  

Performance Based Meal: High protein (animal based is ideal); Moderate starchy carbohydrates (approx. 30g is a good reference for men, 20g is a good place to start for women); Fibrous carbohydrate- eat liberally, the American diet grossly lacks fiber, possibly a contributing factor to expanding waist lines, hmm??; Essential fats- I find for both men and women a good starting amount is 1/2 tbsp of quality oil, with most oils that renders approx. 6-7.5g of EFA’s (adjust accordingly); water should be consumed AFTER the meal, give yourself about 20 minutes before consuming any significant amount of water, you don’t want to dilute the digestive enzyme secreted within the gut during the digestive process; Multi Vitamin/Mineral (chelated) supplement is a good idea to maximize nutrient utilization, also many vitamins and minerals improve macronutrient uptake, also many are fat soluble and are best to take with fats, a meal is a great time to optimize both of those aspects.

Cosmetic Based Meal:  High protein (again, complete protein sources are ideal); Low carbohydrates or what I consider Trace carbs, the trace amounts found in other food sources (i.e. greens, nuts, nut butters, other fibrous carbs as well); Fibrous carbs- should be consumed w/ each meal, whether obtained through food sources or via supplementation…it’s critical for countless reasons, especially on a low starch carb diet (SPECIES nutrition makes a great fiber supp. called FIBERLYZE and I highly recommend it); Moderate EFA’s- similar to that of Performance nutrition…allow adjustments due to energy requirements, w/o the starch carbs the body will rely on fats more so as an energy source.  **Note: I’m a big fan of the conservative use of MCT oils, most specifically Coconut oil…without getting into an entirely new topic I would like to make clear that my personal belief is that MCT’s (in moderation, I do not advise more than 3 tbsp’s MAX per day) are a great addition to low carbohydrate diets simply due to the energy it provides the body…I like coconut oil best for it’s high concentration of lauric acid and the intestinal health and internal healing benefits it provides.  I do however believe there’s definitely a line between incorporating a reasonable amount into the diet for energy requirements and/or increasing one’s total caloric intake and going entirely overboard!!  While I myself am not up to par with other experts on this subject, I am smart enough to know who is!  Dr. Morrow Di Pasquale wrote a fantastic article on some of the enzymatic signaling and hormone secretion/signaling processes that MCT’s can impede!  I encourage people to read anything you can get your hands on by this man, he’s simply brilliant and a trend setter in the field of nutrition to which we have yet to see the totality of the legacy this man will ultimately leave!!

Post Script: Food for thought…pun intended!

    Starchy Carbohydrates are the main variable that will fluctuate for both men and women dependent upon several factors such as, body type, goals, insulin resistance, activity level, caloric expenditure, family history, etc etc.  So long as there’s consistency in the amount of carbohydrates consumed it’s really a matter of paying attention to how you feel, look, perform, and all the other aspects that come into play.  Even if you know very little about the science of this stuff, anybody can be consistent, make an adjustment…see how they respond!  Repeat process till the ideal formula is reached!  Then you’ll need to manipulate the number again…and again, and well you get the idea.  It’s an ever evolving process for every single person from soccer mom to Mr. O…if a bodybuilder trains hard all improvement season (those who are familiar know I stick by the phrase, “there is no offseason, only improvement season”) to gain 5 lbs. of lean muscle…well now doesn’t that change the amount of calories he or she burns just at rest?  It does, and it should be taken into consideration along with the aforementioned variables when making adjustments…particularly in manipulating the starchy carbs with in the nutrition program!  Note: As a rule of thumb give any adjustments you make about 10-14 day before deciding to continue on that path or that another adjustment is needed…unless something was just a complete mistake in hindsight, fix the issue immediately or consult a reputable nutritionist, someone you trust!

So you wanna transform your physique, huh!?.

So, you wanna transform your physique huh!?  Well…in order to do so effectively, one must have some direction and accountability to fully maximize results while minimizing the amount of time it takes to achieve the ultimate goal!  The following is a working outline anyone can follow, these principles carry over into all aspects of life and can be quite powerful, not only in transforming a person’s physique, but in transforming people’s lives!  I’ll admit…I’m selfish like everyone else, I have goals and I’m determined to achieve them!  The following is really just a check list I run through as a reminder to myself…sometimes it’s daily, other times once a week works well, and when I’m on a roll once a month seems to do the trick!  Everyone’s different…take from this one tip or all of them, incorporate what’s realistic and in unison with what you’re trying to accomplish!  These are techniques and principles I’m deeply passionate about, and with them I truly believe…Impossible is Nothing!

1)  Have a definite chief aim!- Define your goals…put them in writing (putting goals in writing holds people accountable)…be as clear and detailed as possible when writing out goals…have short and long term goals, and keep in mind goals are subject to change!  For the right reasons that is, not because it may seem unattainable at the time or out of shear laziness…Dream Big!  Reach for the stars!  Use any cliche saying you’d like…just DO IT!

2)  Visualization- I’m going to describe a visualization technique that I personally find extremely powerful and deeply moving.  I say this not just in reference to myself, rather having bore witness to the humanizing power (sometimes to the point of tears) contained in this exercise when others try it and a whole hearted effort is made, it’s life changing!!  Okay, so sit in a quiet, relaxing area some prefer a darker area while others prefer a lighter place…the premise is the same either way, just make sure you have no distractions as you will need to close your eyes for a chunk of time.  From this point, with eyes closed picture or visualize yourself standing in line to buy tickets to a movie…the title of the movie is The Fantastic and Amazing Life Story of______(insert your name)!!   Sit in the front row of the theater and watch the scenes of the movie in great detail…add another level of believability to your movie by describing the story out loud, better yet with another person listening!  Remember, this is a movie about you…make it as elaborate, detailed, and amazing as your mind can conceive!  Hopefully this makes the possibility of your dreams and goals more of a reality to you and gives you a clear, concise plan of attack to achieving anything you truly desire and WORK hard for!

3)  Structure and Balance- By structure I’m referring to creating good habits…creating good habits starts with bringing structure to all aspects of your day to day life!  Time management is a good synonym for structure.  However, in the context I’m using the word, I feel the term structure encapsulates all that a fitness-centric lifestyle entails!  Preparing meals, weighing and measuring food, putting it all in tupperware, packing supplements for the day, planning training sessions (intelligently), finding the time to train, for cardio, time for work, the wife/husband or boyfriend/girlfriend, kids possibly, etc etc etc. they all require structure…daily structure and time management!  “People don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan!”  Balance as well can easily be interchanged with the term, time management!  Balance is what I personally find the most challenging aspect to integrate into my daily life when in contest prep mode!  When I speak of balance, I mean it as harmony…nobody can always be “in the zone” (I’ve experimented to the ultimate extreme on several occasions), sometimes people need an outlet for their outlet, if that makes any sense!  I can’t stress enough how important it is to find harmony or balance in life if you plan on having long term success en route to accomplishing all your fitness goals.  Not only is it critical for the relationships in your life to remain healthy, whether it be friends, family, co-workers, significant other, etc. but it’s equally important to your own mental state!  “Have outlets for your outlets!”

4)  Be consistent- Rome wasn’t built in a day!….It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon…It’s the journey, not the destination…..Insert the cliche of your choice!!  Just be consistent!!

5) Eliminate Variables- This ties into #4…When you eliminate variables and remain consistent it gives you a greater ability to know what’s doing what.  This is especially important when making changes in the macronutrient amounts and supplement changes!  This leads me to my next point on the list…..

6) Keep Detailed Records- Get a notebook!..Chart your nutrition intake, log your workouts (particularly if you’re a beginner), make detailed notes as to how you feel after certain meals, energy levels, training intensity, fullness, body fat accumulation, weight fluctuations, body temperature first thing in the morning, be as detailed as possible…note changes to the body when specific variables change to either nutrition and/or supplementation!  This is a fool proof plan in reality, if you keep track of everything, I promise you ALL the answers will be at your disposal at all times!!  

7)  Just Start!!!!!!!  Period….

I’ve blended the above principles with the obstacles a fitness enthusiast may encounter!  The more I reflect on them though, I realize how applicable these are to everyone in any field on any subject!  I challenge you to put some of these tactics into play in your daily routine…just see what happens, I think you’ll impress yourself! ;))